TAOS CALLS FOR HELMET LAW
A Taos, New Mexico newspaper is calling for that city to implement a mandatory helmet law within town limits.
The Taos News, a small weekly newspaper in the Northern New Mexico town just south of Red River, published a July 19, 2007, editorial titled, Use your head: Enact motorcycle helmet law for all, that flat-out demanded riders be required to wear helmets within town limits, in spite of the fact that New Mexico law requires helmets only for riders and passengers under 18 years of age.
“…it’s time for local officials to use their heads and enact strict motorcycle helmet laws — for riders of all ages,” the editorial states.
The newspaper cited a July 15 accident involving two motorcycles in Taos that killed 36-year-old Tammie Vigil-Salazar and injured Pamela Fresquez, Paul Salazar, and Alfred Fresquez. The foursome was apparently visiting Taos from Alamosa, Colorado. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
The fact that the investigation is ongoing didn’t slow down the Taos News, though.
“Municipalities must abide by state law but do have the option to enact laws with more teeth than those set forth by our lawmakers in Santa Fé. This week’s tragic event spotlights the need for Taos officials to do just that,” the paper wrote. “Countless arguments will be leveled that requiring motorcyclists to wear protective helmets infringes on civil liberties. But with seat belt laws and hands-free cell phone ordinances for motor vehicle operators and public smoking bans for travelers on two feet already in place, those arguments hold little weight. The right to brain damage, contrary to popular opinion among motorcyclists, is not a constitutionally protected right.
The editorial admits helmets are an unsure bet at best, but qualifies the statement: “It’s true that helmet use cannot prevent injury and death in all cases, but if it saves just one life, isn’t it worth it?”
The piece then goes on to claim that the poor condition of New Mexico roads demand such measures be taken.
“The Land of Enchantment — Northern New Mexico specifically — is notorious for the state of disrepair of its roadways. Potholes, sholderless (sic) roads and road debris are among the obstacles that threaten to topple a motorcycle at every turn.”
The piece does not mention repairing and maintaining the roads, or how helmet use in the town of Taos would help riders on New Mexico’s notoriously disrepaired roads elsewhere. The paper ends it’s call for a lid law with a shot at biker intelligence, and an assertion of superiority for it’s position.
“True, New Mexico is one of the last strongholds for the Wild West mentality. True, the spirit of lawlessness courses through the veins of many of our residents — and these are the folks who, even if a helmet law is enacted, will balk. That is a personal choice that these individuals will have to live — or die — with.
Let’s use our heads and start taking the steps necessary to put the skids on preventable deaths and the heartaches that rumble for years after the fact. The town of Taos should pass a helmet ordinance."