The Instigator
MWonderWolf
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
mnstr
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Should helmets be mandatory?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/12/2016 Category: Health
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 568 times Debate No: 91139
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (0)

 

MWonderWolf

Con

The government wants wearing helmets to be a law. Although it's crazy, it has already been instituted in counties in 22 states! The idea of making this lunacy a law originated when two tween girls suggested it to their city. People should not be forced to wear a helmet, and it should only be advised. This includes the facts that we have the right of choice, helmets can exist as a hazard, and people get out less often when they are forced to wear a helmet that they might not even have.
mnstr

Pro

Bicycling, skateboarding, motorcycling, and other activities to which helmet laws could apply, are commonplace in our society. These pursuits fill multiple roles from entertainment to commuting. However, as the very question as to whether or not helmet"s should be made legally mandatory shows, these endeavors are not without risks. Hundreds of deaths arise in the U.S from bicycle accidents alone each year as well as tens of thousands more emergency room visits. Not all, of course, from injuries of the sort that helmets could provide aid for (and no doubt many of those hundreds were wearing helmets). Undoubtedly, though, many traumatic and fatal injuries across bicycling, motorcycling, and other such pursuits, were preventable through the use of helmets. It can be shown that the consequences of these injuries, and deaths, extend beyond the victims themselves to burden society in a variety of ways, and that the supposed negative effects of mandatory helmet laws become inconsequential in face of the benefits these laws provide for society.
I am currently pressed for time, so I apologize that I am not currently able to expand on the claims I have made to prove their intellectual rigor, however I will expand on them fully for the second round, as well as respond to any comments my opponent has made about these. I think this is also appropriate given my opponent's brevity, and leave this argument open to be addressed by them.
Debate Round No. 1
MWonderWolf

Con

Helmets give a false sense of security. Cyclists think that they are safe, which makes them take more risks, and can lead them to their death. Although some would argue that helmets do protect, in the long run they only really help with small things. So wearing helmets can actually be a hazard! So risky teens should be taught that just because there's a helmet on their head, it doesn't mean that they can take lots of risks.
mnstr

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for helping to nuance my argument. Indeed, they acknowledged that "risky teens should be taught that just because there's a helmet on their head, it doesn't mean that they can take lots of risks." I fully agree with this statement, and was confused how this, or anything else my opponent had written, contradicted my point of view.

The view that helmets cause bicyclists to take more risks than they otherwise wouldn"t is rather facile. Even if it is true, and more importantly- even if it is true to such an extreme that this increase in risky maneuvers outsets the thousands of traumatic injuries that we know to be preventable through the wearing of a helmet, this is something that should be educated out of people. I fail to see, and my opponent failed to point out, how this could not become information that is saturated throughout the bicycling, skateboarding, and motorcycling community through education and regulation, in a similar fashion to basic driving laws.

I was also incredibly disappointed by my opponent"s characterization of the benefits of helmets as something that " only really help[s] with small things". Helmets, of course, are not a miracle protection that can stave off any injury to cyclists. As aforementioned in this debate, cyclists who wear helmets do die. This does not mean, however, that helmets only help with the small things. It is a universally accepted fact that helmets do wonders to protect people from traumatic brain injuries, the type of which can often be fatal. The Center for Disease Control estimates that the wearing of bicycle helmets can reduce head injury by a stunning 80%. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the more conservative figure of around 50%. Even still, given the nature of head injuries, I would have no problem defending mandatory helmet laws if they reduced head injury by 10%, let alone 50% to 80%.

I think that most people can appreciate that the offsetting of these head injuries and deaths, including in our children, do make helmet laws justifiable. However, in my opponent"s original statement they did point to the argument of freedom of choice, the belief that we own our bodies and should get to do what we please with them. My opponent did not expand on this in their second argument, so I am hesitant to devote too much time to it, considering this can easily turn from a helmet debate to one on the role of government and social contract. However, I do think it is an argument deserving of some attention, so I will briefly attempt to address it here, and I do hope we will not get bogged down in the rhetoric of personal freedoms at large.

Due to the way contemporary society works, an individuals burdens are often shouldered by society at large. One of the ways this most commonly happens, and the way that is most pertinent to our discussion, is the sharing of medical costs. Obviously in some western countries, the U.S being the prime example, much of the burden of medical costs is put on the person who has incurred them. However, these costs are often offset by public medical services. Often times when one suffers a brain injury their medical bills, often upwards of the tens of thousands, are passed onto tax payers.

Now, of course this by itself isn"t a complete counter-argument to the personal freedom"s question. These costs, for example, could be hugely reduced if we were to simply ban bicycling, skateboarding, motorcycling, and the like. However, the distinction of helmet laws is that it does not truly reduce the personal freedoms of the rider in a way that unfairly reduces their happiness or opportunities in life. Banning bicycling would prevent people from having a way to commute or participate in recreational activities for little reason. However, a simple regulation on this activity, the mandatory wearing of helmets for example, does not prevent this. It does not reduce their ability to bicycle, and the concerns about less participation in these activities because of helmet regulation should be addressed through the normalization of helmet wearing. The alternative is removing these laws which do not violate personal freedoms and do prevent hundreds of deaths and traumatic injuries.

I feel the above argument should be enough for my opponent to acknowledge that mandating helmet laws does not violate personal freedom of choice, but regulates it in a way that does not unfairly burden the rest of society with the fiscal responsibility for those who do not wish to wear helmets. The line of thought that says the wearing of helmets will cause people to act more recklessly falls apart when one considers a) this can be reduced through regulation and education and b) the alternative are thousands of traumatic injuries that will happen even to those who do act safely while riding bicycles. I believe my statements here have been fleshed out enough to properly address my opponent"s points from round one, and round two. I hope the arguments I have presented here, and in round one, will help sway my opponent to the side of the debate that seeks to reduce society"s fiscal burden, and prevent thousands of tragic deaths and injuries every year.

Included are the sources for the 50% and 80% figures I cited. I encourage my opponent to look over these pages.
http://www.cdc.gov...
http://www.iihs.org...
Debate Round No. 2
MWonderWolf

Con

Hey, I just noticed that I never explicitly said that I meant only bike helmets. I do not agree with you, except that teens should be warned. It contradicts your point of veiw. Read the second sentence's last words. Also, I would like to add that you probably should not write such long arguments. It was so long and looked so boring I didn't take the time to read it all.

If the reality that helmets can be a hazard isn't enough, commissioning the law of helmets has led to less cyclists out and getting exercise. Although some would say that it doesn't matter, it really does! Cycling, people exercise, which helps them lose weight. It is also VERY enjoyable to bike around town. If the above isn't enough on this topic, what if people don't even own a helmet to follow the law? Although people would say that they can go buy one, what if they don't have the money? So why doesn't the government repeal the law and let people get out there and have the amusement that they want?
mnstr

Pro

First, I am glad we have narrowed it down to mandatory bicycle helmets, as the subject does get murkier with the introduction of motorcycles into the mix.

Next, I was not saying, of course, that your last statement was an explicit agreement with my point of view. However, I maintain that your statement; "So risky teens should be taught that just because there's a helmet on their head, it doesn't mean that they can take lots of risks," acknowledges the possibility of teaching teens to act safely while on bicycles. Your acknowledgement of the possibility of educating people to act more safely on bicycle, as well as my previously stated point of actively enforcing safe bicycle riding, is admission that the barrier of recklessness is one that is easily overcome.

It is this concession that the teaching safe riding of bicycles is possible which makes your statement "If the reality that helmets can be a hazard isn't enough"" especially confusing to me. The concerns about hazardous riding have already been addressed thoroughly in my last statement, though I guess you may not have read it. If you actually are positing that helmets create additional hazards, hazards so extreme that they cancel out the enormous safety benefits, I would like to see you expand on this. It can hardly be leaned on for "being enough" when currently it seems to me that is completely undefended, unless I am perhaps missing something you have pointed out- if so please forgive me for having you rehash it.

I also feel as if a lot of what you have mentioned with concerns about people's access to recreation and transportation was addressed in the meat of my last statement, which I am somewhat disappointed you didn't read through (it being only around 1000 words). I will restate my argument here, and for your sake try to keep it brief: These concerns in no way makeup for the fact that without helmets we would be seeing hundreds more fatalities, and thousands more injuries. These can plainly be seen in injury prevention statistics. This is not saying that we simply give up on having a high amount of bicycling, but rather we work to achieve a normalization of helmets which mitigates the reduction in bicycle participation. This pursuit is obviously far better than having an increase in deaths and injuries to make some people feel less awkward.

I will now address the only new point you have brought up in this round: the cost of helmets. This is honestly an incredibly minor concern. Given the entry cost to bicycling anyways (the cost of bikes) helmets would be a small percentage of the price, and would have to be factored in by people looking to bicycle. It is unfortunate that this cost, however small it may be, might turn some people away from bicycling. And if it were revealed to be a prohibiting factor, at that point seeking ways to assist in these costs would be an appropriate action. It should also be taken into account that the cost of a helmet is incredibly minor compared to the cost of a head injury, and obviously incomparable to the cost of an easily preventable fatality. Both on society, and the individual, the helmet is a small upfront cost to prevent life ruining costs later down the line.

As I have spent much of the last rounds addressing your criticisms, including some that you have posed repeatedly rather than reading my whole explanation, I'm going to pose some direct questions to you.

-You have concerns about people cycling less because of being forced to wear a helmet. Do you think it is worth it to accept hundreds more deaths rather than trying to have helmet laws and increase cycling participation with helmets?

-You pointed out in the last round that cyclists may act in ways that are more hazardous if they wear helmets. However, if they don't wear helmets, then whether they act hazardously or not, their chances of death and injury are larger. In the fact of this, do you not think that educating cyclists on safety, and enforcing cyclist safety through citation and other action, is the better route? This solution seems to prevent the most deaths.

- And, as mentioned earlier, I would appreciate a expansion on your statement that helmets are hazardous.

I look look forward to reading your other concerns, and hearing how you can justify these preventable deaths by making points which have other viable solutions.
Debate Round No. 3
MWonderWolf

Con

You know, we sort of strayed from the topic. We both agree that people should wear helmets, but the debate is 'should there be a law on it'. The reason it is important for people to get out there and cycle is that the USA has an increasing rate of obesity, especially in kids. It has been proved that cycling helps people lose weight. For a week, my family and I took a trip to Seabrook. It is a cycling town, and the rental house came with bikes. It did not, unfortunately, come with helmets. Which I guess I'm fine with. I feel trapped in a helmet. Anyways, my brother (sketchb) and I cycled around most of the day, every day. I had never felt that much freedom. Also, I lost a couple pounds. Imagine if people cycled around like that for a year. The obesity rate would go down by quite a bit.

If the reality that helmets can be a hazard isn't enough, commissioning the law of helmets has led to less cyclists out and getting exercise. Although some would say that it doesn't matter, it really does! Cycling, people exercise, which helps them lose weight. It is also VERY enjoyable to bike around town. If the above isn't enough on this topic, what if people don't even own a helmet to follow the law? Although people would say that they can go buy one, what if they don't have the money, or there is no bike town around? So why doesn't the government repeal the law and let people get out there and have the amusement that they want?

(It helps that I did a paper on this, and it's still my own words! No copy-paste.)
mnstr

Pro

We really have not strayed from the topic, as the basis of my argument is that the safety that helmets provide is so overwhelming that it provides full justification for helmets being legally mandated. This view has been expressed many times through my statements (which you obviously are no longer reading) and in the questions I posed to you at the end of the last round- which do you did not bother to answer.

All of your repeated points about cycling being good for recreation were previously addressed by me in a way that I think was very thorough and compelling. However, seeing as you are not even criticizing my responses, but simply not addressing them, I"m assuming you couldn"t be bothered to read them. So once more: The reduction in cycling caused by helmets can be reverted through campaigns to normalize helmet wearing. The benefit of this route is vastly superior as it prevents thousands of deaths every year.

If you find that argument a bit brief, you can look at my last two rounds where I fleshed that out in detail.

Your next paragraph was literally copy and pasted from the last round, despite me answering your points and interrogating them. I answered your question about helmet cost to competition in the last round, and if you are genuinely curious about this I encourage you to read it. I also questioned you about your statement that helmets could be a hazard, as you provide nothing to support this.

I hesitate to post this round with so little to add, however, seeing as you have clearly not bothered to read what I have carefully laid out in the last two rounds, I am not sure what I can add. I will once more post my questions, the ones you ignored, from the last round, and hope you answer them.

If you find that these questions are lacking context, everything I have written in the last two (now three) rounds provides full context for me placing them upon you.

-You have concerns about people cycling less because of being forced to wear a helmet. Do you think it is worth it to accept hundreds more deaths rather than trying to have helmet laws and increase cycling participation with helmets?

-You pointed out in the last round that cyclists may act in ways that are more hazardous if they wear helmets. However, if they don't wear helmets, then whether they act hazardously or not, their chances of death and injury are larger. In the fact of this, do you not think that educating cyclists on safety, and enforcing cyclist safety through citation and other action, is the better route? This solution seems to prevent the most deaths.

- And, as mentioned earlier, I would appreciate a expansion on your statement that helmets are hazardous.
Debate Round No. 4
MWonderWolf

Con

Yes, the second paragraph in the last round WAS copied and pasted, from a school paper that I did a while ago. Parts of the other rounds were too. I DID tweak them a little to accommodate what you wrote. For the price of helmets, what if they didn't get the helmet with the bike? And what if they go bankrupt after? In response to the round three questions: There are hundreds of deaths from obesity, by the way, and it's not exactly attractive to have people staring at you because you're fat. Also, the expansion. I have little for it. For instance, say a biker is riding down a street with a helmet on. He's thinking, 'I have a helmet on. I'm completely safe.' But that's not true. He rides over a crosswalk, and a car comes. He was not looking because he thought he was safe. That car slams into him. He dies from massive head injuries that the helmet couldn't protect. Anyways, it's just a piece of hard foam, which is just another firm thing to collide your head with. You know, I've never fallen off a bike since I was little and still learning to ride. Parents should know if the kids have the caution and don't fall off bikes or do stupid stunt tricks. If they do the crazy things, their parents should get them a helmet. If they are cautious and safe, however, they should not be FORCED to wear a helmet, but they can if they want.
With all that being said, including the facts that people get out less often, helmets can be a hazard, and we have the right of choice, helmets should not be made a dictation. So wearing helmets should not be made a law, but only advised. Simply advised. You could get a telling of from a police, but just a simple reprimand. There should be no fines. I believe that we should wear helmets, but it should not be a law at all.
mnstr

Pro

Excuse me for being unclear, I was not accusing you in a derogatory way of copying from a school paper. I was accusing you, in a derogatory way, of pasting the exact same statement that you had in the round before. This was especially frustrating because I had spent most of the previous round answering the specific points in that paragraph, and your response was to paste it again unchanged. It left me with the impression that you were no longer taking the debate seriously, or bothering to read my replies which I have been putting genuine effort into. But now that I have cleared that up; on to the last round.

I"m just going to go ahead and do a point-by-point response from your statement, before I add my concluding statements:

I am trying to remain respectful but, frankly, your obesity point is a bit ridiculous. As I have already mentioned, under mandatory helmet laws we should be seeking to normalize helmet wearing to avoid a reduction in cycling participation. In the meanwhile, there are many other avenues for fighting obesity, and if it is a major concern of the obese person in question, perhaps they should feel extra motivation to overcome self consciousness about helmets.

Your statement on a bicyclist thinking that they are safe because they are wearing a helmet was already addressed extensively by me in the last few rounds, over and over again. Once more, this can be reduced through education and policing, and the benefits that helmets provide far outweigh the concern of a few cyclists who think they"re invincible because of helmets. It is also hard to believe someone so stupid would act any safer without a helmet.

The quote "Anyways, it's just a piece of hard foam, which is just another firm thing to collide your head with," was incredibly surprising to me. It seems weird that in the last round of this debate you would suddenly stake the claim that bike helmets are ineffective and unsafe. While I have previously referred, extensively, to the fact that helmets cannot prevent all injuries, there is no denying that the modern bicycle helmet does prevent head injuries, the type of which can often be fatal. You"ve provided no supporting evidence to the fact that helmets are ineffective and unsafe, whereas in a previous round I have mentioned helmet safety statistics. I am not sure what has led you, apparently out of nowhere, to this rather nonsensical belief.

Your point about people acting safely on bicycles also does not account for bicyclists who act perfectly safely, but are injured from other occupants of the road.

The police "telling people off" for not wearing a helmet while it not being illegal is incredibly odd. I"m not sure why you want to live in a world where helmets shouldn"t be mandatory because people have "freedom of choice" (I"m not addressing that here, as I devoted almost all of round two to arguing against that claim) but police are stopping and berating people for not wearing them.

To conclude: Helmets save lives, and prevent injuries. The rate at which they do so amounts to thousands of preventable ruined lives. When these lives are taken, not only does it harm the person themselves, but society at large. Because of the toll this takes on society, and the fact that helmets do not impede on people"s personal freedoms, but rather act as a qualifying regulation (see round 2), it does not violate people"s personal freedom"s to mandate the wearing of helmets.

People often have concerns about the effect that mandatory helmets will have on participation in cycling as a whole. However, considering that the question here is preventing deaths and fatalities, we should seek to reduce this effect while having mandatory helmet laws. Having a disproportionate amount of increased deaths instead of simply trying to start a campaign to address this issue is a ridiculous solution. In a similar tone, concerns about the additional barrier cost that helmets provide can be addressed through an additional public campaign, and adding it on as a rather small percentage of the entry costs into cycling.

Perhaps there are some reasons why helmet"s should not be mandatory, but if there are they were not listed by the opposition in this debate. Instead the oppositions primary arguments (freedom of choice, cost, reduction in participation) were addressed extensively, only to be brought up again with no adjustments made to account for the counter-arguments. This probably has to do with the "con" side openly admitting that they had stopped reading my, admittedly rather verbose, arguments. Considering the facts that I have presented, I ask that people vote for the "pro" side of the debate, which, in this debate, proved the value mandatory helmet laws have.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by MWonderWolf 8 months ago
MWonderWolf
I'm actually choking with laughter right now cuz my 4/5-crazed bro and I are going to pieces over funny things originating from this debate.
:-) :-)
:-) :-)
Posted by MWonderWolf 8 months ago
MWonderWolf
Ok, another thing: for obesity, what if they are so fat that the helmet can't fit on their head!? Vicious cycle, people!
Contributions from my 4/5-crazed brother.
Posted by MWonderWolf 9 months ago
MWonderWolf
Come on, people. How would you like to live in a world where, if you didn't wear a helmet for something as simple as biking, you would get a fine or jail time? SERIOUSLY! You should wear a helmet if you have one though...
Posted by MWonderWolf 9 months ago
MWonderWolf
Oh, BTW, with the whole police thing, I meant police should remind people not wearing helmets that it is safer to wear one if they have one. People should wear helmets. But they should not be forced to.
Posted by MWonderWolf 9 months ago
MWonderWolf
I agree with a law for motorcyclists to wear helmets, BTW.
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