The first line of attack is
newspapers and word-of-mouth in order to increase awareness.
The Delaware News Journal is
most widely distributed. To send a letter to the editor, compose your
thoughts (less than 100 words) and send to:
Be sure to include your full
name, address, and telephone number. The News Journal will either call you to
verify or send you a return e-mail instructing you to contact them. They do
this just to make sure you are a real person and not a spammer.
Be respectful and succinct.
Do not bloviate or use inflammatory language… you will not be published. To
most bikers, this issue is a matter of personal freedom. You may have another
slant. Use your own words, and speak from your heart. The simpler the better;
complexity adds confusion. If published, expect your letter to be edited for
punctuation and grammar.
The more people that write a
Letter to the Editor, the better. Don’t let your feelings get hurt if they
don’t publish your letter .. they pick and choose.
If you are out riding and
encounter another rider and start talking as we always do, be sure to let them
know about this pending legislation. You never know when someone may know
someone, who knows someone else, etc. Word of mouth can be a powerful force.
Not everyone has internet access; if you have friends that aren’t online, give
them a call.
To the members of the Senate Public Safety Committee:
Please consider the following in consideration of Senate Bill 46, "An Act to
Amend Title 21 of the Delaware Code Relating to Motorcycle Safety Helmets".
Our position is as follows:
S.B. 46 is vague
Senate Bill 46 states that the helmet will be "approved by the Secretary of
Safety and Homeland Security through the Office of Highway Safety."
Since the definition of an approved helmet in the state of Delaware does not
exist, one could reasonably assume that OHS would define an "approved helmet"
as one which meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) known as
FMVSS 218 ( 49CFR571.218) which is used in most states, including California.
On August 16, 2006, in People of the State of California v. Richard J.
Quigley, the Superior Court of California ruled that the California law as
applied was unconstitutional. An excerpt from the ruling states:
"Moreover, once it was established to the
satisfaction of this court that no list of compliant helmets, or any other
objective criteria exists that would give a person of ordinary intelligence a
reasonable opportunity to know what is required or prohibited by the helmet
law statutes, this court had no choice but to otherwise dismiss all
the…citations (including the citation for wearing no headgear at all) on the
grounds that the enforcement policies and procedures…have rendered the
mandatory helmet law use statutes void for vagueness, and otherwise
The State of Nevada, Office of Attorney General, in a ruling issued November
5, 2002 states the following:
"To determine with certainty whether a helmet
complies with federal and state safety standards, one must contact the
manufacturer of the helmet listed on the sticker inside the helmet and the
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ."
The government cannot make an objective standard for helmets without taking on
liability. Since the government cannot take on any liability, they can never
make an objective standard for helmets.
Without an objective standard it all becomes ad hoc and arbitrary. Ad hoc and
arbitrary is the foundation of vague law.
Vague law is unconstitutional.
S.B. 46 Violates
14th Amendment Rights
The fourteenth (14th) amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that "no state
shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the
The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) reports that instances of
transportation-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) fall into the following
Occupants of enclosed motor vehicles - 62%
Pedestrian - 13%
Other - 12%
Bicycle - 7%
Motorcycle - 6%
If one considers the number of people who suffer TBI as a result of operating
a motor vehicle or as a pedestrian, it is obvious that by not requiring them
to wear a helmet, their right to equal protection under the law is being
Helmets for all, or helmets for none. Anything else is unconstitutional
We all know the nature of statistics, and how they can be used to inflame the
We do not know what studies you are reviewing in consideration of S.B. 46, but
let us offer the following excerpts from the Insurance Institute of Highway
Safety in their response to Docket No. FHWA-05-22706. The date of response is
"we believe the current and historical license registration data are not
reliable measures of driver and vehicle exposure. The use of these data may
lead to erroneous conclusions about the success or failure of highway safety
"Until recently, we used FHWA data on motorcycle registrations as a measure of
exposure for tracking changes in motorcycle crashes. We were made aware of
large discrepancies .. Therefore, we have suspended use of these data until we
can be assured of their accuracy ."
Who better than the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety to tell us that
figures don't lie, but liars figure.
Any study is suspect. Read and understand them, or do not let S.B. 46 proceed.
Then again, statistics and studies can be used to the advantage of anyone in
favor or opposed to Senate Bill 46. The Department of Transportation issued
"Traffic Safety Facts 2005". It concluded that "more than 94 percent of the
11.1 million vehicles involved in motor vehicle crashes in 2005 were passenger
cars or light trucks."
The involvement of motorcycles was 1 percent.
Band-Aid to a
The immediate response of a government is to apply a band-aid to a broken leg.
Much has been made of the incidents off right-of-way violations, aggressive
driving, and reckless driving in the state of Delaware. To date, we have
applied mere band-aids to the crisis.
We recently had a very good friend injured in a motorcycle accident. He was in
the hospital for over a month. The offending vehicle, which pulled out in
front of him, was cited for "Right of Way Violation", "failure to yield". This
violation is defined in Title 21, Chapter 41, Subchapter IV.
There are no penalties for this violation in the Delaware State Code.
Fortunately, our friend has sufficient insurance to maintain himself and his
family during his recovery.
We would submit that the greater task of the General Assembly is not to
infringe upon a lifestyle, but rather to more vehemently to penalize those who
jeopardize it. The careless, negligent, and aggressive drivers of Delaware
must know that their behavior is not acceptable.
Instead of applying a band-aid to the issue in the form of a mandatory helmet
law, it would distinguish the General Assembly to address the root cause of
motor vehicle accidents by applying more stringent and enforceable penalties
under the existing code.
We need the current Code to be fortified and enforced.
In the name freedom, and in the name of personal responsibility, we ask that
the members of the Public Safety Committee apply due diligence to the
The preamble to the Delaware State Constitution says,
"Through Divine goodness, all people have by nature the rights of worshiping
and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences, of
enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring and protecting
reputation and property, and in general of
obtaining objects suitable to their condition,
without injury by one to
another; and as these rights are essential to their welfare, for due exercise
thereof, power is inherent in them; and therefore established
with their consent
, to advance all
just authority in the institutions of political society is derived from the
people, and their happiness; and they may for this end, as circumstances
require, from time to time, alter their Constitution of government.
Shirley Vandever and Jimmy Epps
16-B Rector Court
Wilmington, DE 19810
Co-Founders, Delaware Freedom Riders
Members, ABATE of Delaware,