This is a controversial subject, and motorcycle riders and citizens of Montana may have strong feelings about mandatory helmet laws. We'd love to hear your take. Drop a comment on social media or reach out on our App Chat. 

I have ridden motorcycles since I was a kid (from dirt bikes to street bikes and large V-twins), and I too have mixed feelings about helmet laws. My parents made us wear helmets when we were kids, ripping around the train track ditches outside of Belgrade.

As a late-teen with a fast Kawasaki 750, I rarely wore a helmet. Young, dumb, and full of testosterone and devil-may-care. Now, as a middle-aged dad, I usually wear a helmet when I ride. But not always. Part of me can relate with those who espouse the government controlling every aspect of our lives. 

Read More: Bike Night 2024 Is Roaring Into Town!

Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash
Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash

The other part of me has felt the pain of losing dear friends on motorcycles.

As bikers, we all take a risk while riding. Everyone who rides knows the inherent danger associated with two wheels.  It's a likely part of what makes riding a motorcycle so enjoyable for many riders. Speed, power, and the rip or rumble of a powerful motor is a thrill, plain and simple.

Motorcycle fatalities happen far too often in Montana.

We're early into the riding season in Big Sky Country, and we're already trending slightly ahead of last year for fatal motorcycle accidents. According to the Montana Highway Patrol, there have been five deadly motorcycle accidents so far this year; there were two in 2022 as of mid-June and four in 2023 for the same period.

Riders enjoying a cruise through Red Lodge recently. Credit Michael Foth, TSM
Riders enjoying a cruise through Red Lodge recently. Credit Michael Foth, TSM

Iowa has the most no-helmet fatalities. Montana ranks 13th.

According to data compiled by personal injury law firm  Anidjar & Levine, Iowa has the highest no-helmet motorcycle accident fatalities at 72.4%. I was relieved to see Montana wasn't near the top of the rankings, but the numbers indicate far too many of us have lost loved ones from motorcycle accidents in Montana.

65% of the motorcycle fatality accidents in Montana had riders not wearing helmets, according to National Highway Traffic Administration data between 2018 and 2022.

Photo by Justin Clark on Unsplash
Photo by Justin Clark on Unsplash

Are you a gambler?

Experienced riders know that it's not "if" but "when" you'll eventually lay your bike down. Could be a deer darting onto the highway or maybe it's a car that pulls in front of you. You might blow out a tire or enter a curve too aggressively.

Broken bones can heal, but it's tough to put a brain back together.

Like it or not, helmets make sense. I doubt Montana will ever pass a mandatory helmet law, but choosing to not wear one greatly increases your odds of dying in a crash. Here's to a safe riding season and remember... Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly.

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