Motorcycle Awareness Month is upon us and I’d like to put some focus on helmets.

Motorcycle Helmets, the Science, the Myths and Equality:
Let’s face it, helmets have been a contentious issue for years now and they inspire many viewpoints and opinions.

These days, here in Canada, the issue has become even more contentious to the point of civil liberty/disobedience rallies, supreme court challenges and the like.

Here is the link to the Civil Disobedience Rally:

And the Equal Rights Association:

We have a religious group of people who want to have the privilege of riding a motorcycle without the burden of protecting the public purse, the way the rest of us do.

These riders are using their religion to avoid wearing a helmet and we have governments allowing these exemptions to take place.

In BC, they lost their right to wear a beanie for all other riders in 2012.
Sikhs in that province won the right to ride with only a Turban on in 2009.

In spite of all of the science and stats that was used by the government in BC to remove freedoms from non Sikhs when the decision to withdraw the beanie allowance was made, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario all allow this helmet exemption.

When you think of the shipping docks and the insurance regulations surrounding helmets in the workplace, no one there, no matter their faith is allowed to work without a helmet. The companies refuse to pay the premiums and costs for head injuries to those not wearing certified protective gear.

If public purse and public safety are being cited as the reasons that the beanie is no longer acceptable safety gear by the now defunct Synaptic Analysis Consulting Group that called themselves experts in injury and bio-mechanics, then WHY would government allow this exemption to take place for Sikhs?

If you believe the science and reasoning they used in 2012 when the right to ride wearing a beanie was revoked: “In a 2009 study, Mr. Richards conducted crash tests comparing "very severe collisions" with different helmets, and found the risk of a severe brain injury – one with a high probability of death – with a beanie helmet was more than 90 per cent. With a certified, full face-shield helmet, that probability dropped to less than 5 per cent.”
Yet no one has tested the turban and its efficiency.

I suspect it is because it’s a religious garment.

I wanted to learn about the Turban and its significance so I went to the World Sikh dot Org site (

“There are various styles and sizes of turban. Younger children often wear a patka which is a square piece of cloth tied on the head. At home or for sleep, a smaller turban or keski is worn in place of the larger turban.  Depending on personal preference, wearers choose different colours or fabrics for the turban. “

Now, if riding a motorcycle or driving a car is considered a privilege and not a right, then why are religious rights being flexed here at all?

I simply do not understand that, especially when they have the option to wear a smaller turban so that they may wear a helmet.

It’s an inequality that has no place in Canadian society and yet, here we are.
But the politics surrounding helmets don’t end with the whole “Let those who ride decide” debate or the whole equality debate around a privilege...
No, many question whether or not helmets save lives, reduce trauma etc. or might actually cause more injury in some cases.

When you go to the CDC website in the US, their stats are pretty convincing that :

  • Helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives in 2016.1
  • If all motorcyclists would have worn helmets in 2016, 802 more could have been saved. 1
  • Each year, the United States could save more than $ 1 billion in economic costs if all motorcyclists wore helmets.2
  • Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37%.2
  • Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69%.3,4

If you use the links in the references you will be taken to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

You’ll note that as with all stats, they only tell a narrow sliver of what actually happened.
But they point to head trauma being present in those who are fatally injured.
That is one stat that no one can really dispute.

Here is the statement that I like - “Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.”

So the answer is do they work?
Well yes, for certain kinds of crashes they do. Do they work all the time?
No. There is no perfect device for protecting one's noggin.

For more information on helmets and the health care cost reductions and the lives saved,

As far as helmets increasing the chance of neck injury, the science seems to disprove that theory, however, there also doesn’t appear to be a variety of researchers working on the topic either. (

My biggest question out of the whole helmet debate is this:

With all of this supposed science at their fingertips, the governments in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have chosen to ignore the public purse, the public healthcare system and a whole lot more in the name of vote pandering.

Yes I said it. I am calling them out for what I believe it to be.
You can not apply a religious right to something that is a privilege and not a right.
It is a privilege to ride a motorcycle - NOT A RIGHT.

There is no where in Canada where it is your inherent right to ride one.
If you choose to ride a motorcycle and you are Sikh, you have the option of wearing a smaller Turban to accommodate a helmet, according to what I have learned about your faith and the Turban.

Therefore, your argument is null and void and you should be wearing a helmet like the rest of us. The science says wearing helmets improve your chances of survival in the event of a crash, the law say riding is a privilege and we here in Canada we are a semi socialist country in that we have universal healthcare and your actions and choices affect the resources available to others.

SO...either repeal the exemptions and allow Sikhs to ride using their smaller Turban under their helmet OR allow choice for all.

Either ALL Lives Matter or NO Lives matter.

I feel that either the government is going to nanny us all the same way, or they can allow us to be adults and choose our level of risk.

In the meantime, I’ll wear my helmet, it protects me from the elements and road debris, those are good enough reasons for me.

Seriously, the helmet debate is the great debate, and it’s as old as the question “what came first the chicken or the egg?”….and I don’t see it being won any time soon and therefore I am hoping to be able to be on my bike next week and bringing you the first look review of my new Voss 580 Conquest Modular Helmet. (  If it isn't next week because of the crappy weather here, then it will be the first chance I get to ride with it again.


After that review, I am sure that I’ll have a few more articles on this helmet I am sure!
One or two rides does not a real to life kind of test ride make! (Wink Wink)

I’ll be looking at other helmets this season too,  in the lifelong quest to find a helmet that I can feel comfortable in, so, if you’d like a helmet reviewed, let me know!

Until then, if you are lucky enough to be riding today, please remember to ride like everyone around you is blind and can not see you.

Belt Drive Betty,
Editor & Rider

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