8 Ball In The Wind

Friday, December 2, 2016


Article 1, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution states; “All political power is inherent in the people, and government derives their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.”

Article 1, Section 2 of the Washington State Constitution states; “The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.”

Article 1, Section 12 of the Washington State Constitution states; “No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.”

These are good words, and should have a powerful effect on keeping our society free.  Yet, in some cases they seem to be; if not ignored, then only given lip service to.  A case in point is the Universal Helmet Law.  It would seem that there are those in the Washington State Legislature seem to feel that how the issue physically may affect motorcyclists is less important than the way some in the medical field are emotionally affected by it.  Or that the Washington State Patrol, and the Washington Department of Transportation have a more important opinion of the effectiveness of the issue than those directly affected, Washington State’s motorcycling community.  It would appear that those individuals in the legislature are in violation of at least these three sections of the state constitution.

There are those in the legislature with a connection to the medical field.  Who feel that the trauma for those working in the field and trauma departments dealing with serious injuries outweigh the rights of motorcyclists to be able to choose when and where is the best choice to wear a helmet.  Does that even make sense?  That those who have made the choice to work in the field of medicine; especially in the emergency and trauma departments, should be so disturbed by what they see that they feel the need to limit the safety choices of others?  Yet I have been told by several legislators that one of their prime concerns in this issue is how it disturbs those in the emergency room treating the injured motorcyclist.  The mentality behind this way of thinking is beyond my understanding.  Because some members of one class of citizens experience emotional trauma while exercising their chosen profession, that somehow gives them the right to restrict the ability of another class of citizens to exercise their rights to make their own choices.  Yet it never seems to be expressed that the by far greater number of crash related trauma victims are due to automobile accidents.  It is only the injuries motorcyclists receive that seems to be so traumatic to the emergency medical staff.  As the late President Harry Truman used to say; “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

The fact that many in the medical field who so strongly support the mandatory use of motorcycle helmets balk at the thought of similar mandates for occupants of automobiles speaks volumes.  According to the Centers for Disease Control; 47.7% of emergency department visits due to automobile crashes are head injury related, as are 66.9% of hospitalizations due to automobile crash related head injuries.  Compared to only 4.5% of emergency department visits and 11.2% of hospitalizations due to motorcycle crash related head injuries.  Is it due to a perception among some voices in the medical field that motorcyclists are somehow more vulnerable, and therefore much more likely perceptually to be requiring emergency medical treatment?  This seems to form a condescending attitude that seemingly isolates motorcyclists as the greatest source of traumatic injuries in their minds and opinions.  They then voice that opinion to legislators in an attempt to prevent them from repealing, or even amending the universal helmet law.  An example of that mindset is best given by the Senate Transportation Committee hearing on SB5198, to amend the law.  When Senator Benton asked the Doctor from Harborview who was testifying against the bill if in her opinion, mandating the use of helmets by automobile occupants would reduce the amount of serious head injuries seen in Harborview’s trauma center, she was taken aback by the question.  As if the idea had never even occurred to her.  Then she simply stated, in a rather condescending manner, that there were no studies to show that "...except maybe for race car drivers".  Obviously she only looked for motorcycle head injury studies, or she would have easily found the CDC’s 2010 report "Traumatic Brain Injuries in the United States".  The very thought of mandating automobile occupants to wear a helmet is to them laughable.  They have no issue with legislating requirements for a minority class of citizens, while refusing to even consider the same requirement for all citizens.  This would seem to be a violation of Article 1, Section 12 of the Washington State Constitution.

Others in the legislature feel that the Washington State Patrol is the most important party to listen to on this issue.  Even though the WSP has a history of bias against motorcyclists, and even was found in 2009, to have been violating a court order to not use Basic Biker 101 as a training guide for 7 years!  Many of those officers trained and indoctrinated during those many years are still on duty, and still carry the mindset instilled by that training.  On the issue of mandatory helmet use itself; when presented with facts, including the WSP’s own information during a legislative hearing, the individual testifying for the WSP could only testify that helmets “protected motorcyclists from flying debris, like lug nuts.”  The fact that some legislators place more weight and value to the opinion of the Departments of; Licensing and of Transportation, and the WSP than its own citizens directly involved would seem to be a violation of Article 1, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution.

Article 1, Section 2 of the Washington State Constitution states; “The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.”  Yet Washington State’s universal helmet law would seem to violate the US Constitutions Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection” clause.  By mandating one class of citizens to relinquish its right to self-determine the proper level of self-protection, while not requiring the majority of the citizens to relinquish that same right would seem to violate the concept of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.  Especially when looking at, and comparing the head injury rates between the two groups.  Either both groups should have their rights restricted, or both should be allowed to choose whether to wear a helmet, or not.  But one minority should not be forced to, while the majority isn’t.

As I was reminded earlier today, Article 1, Section 29 of the Washington State Constitution states; "The provisions of this Constitution are mandatory, unless by express words they are declared to be otherwise."  The Washington State and US Constitutions are not suggestions to be followed when it is most convenient, but directives to be obeyed by all, regardless of any convenience or expediency.

Catch you on the road sometime…

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