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All for choice on helmets, but...

When it comes to helmets and seat belts, I'm on the side of choice and freedom.

If you want to ride your bike and let the breeze blow through your hair, you should have that right.

A few years ago, though, I read a column on helmets. The author proposed requiring special insurance for the helmetless. I would extend that to seat belts as well.

Under such a proposal, the state would issue different licenses for those who wear helmets and who don't. The cost of insurance for the helmetless would be higher, probably much so.

That's because study after study shows that going without a helmet is a much riskier choice.

Under this system, helmet wearers would benefit. They wouldn't have to suffer the costs of those who choose otherwise.

The same goes for seat belts. 

The injuries for those who survive accidents while not wearing seat belts and helmets are great, as are the costs for society, especially when victims go on Medicaid. So it's fair for those who make the riskier choices to pay more into the insurance pool. 

Our recent story on helmets drew a lot of comments on our website and on Facebook.

John Scott posted a comment on our website: "I think as [an] adult, you are able to decide your own safety needs. If you prefer to take risks, then I guess that's your choice."

His choice: Wearing a helmet.

He also expressed a concern of many motorcycle riders – that drivers don't pay attention to them. That's why you see "Start Seeing Motorcycles" signs. Sure, some drivers are careless and inattentive. And they don't notice motorcycles. 

But let's be fair: We've all seen bikers weave in and out of traffic dangerously, going at much higher speeds than everyone else. Yes, they're a small minority, but we cannot ignore that recklessness.

In northern Illinois, motorcycles are usually a lifestyle choice, not an economic necessity (although the gas mileage is great). They're risky, which is part of their appeal.

But those who make safer choices shouldn't have to pay for those who go the dangerous route.

David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at dgiuliani@saukvalley or 800-798-4085, ext. 525.

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