My wife and I just finished a mini vacation in New Hampshire. We have friends there and like to visit the state with the motto “Live free or die” displayed on each motor vehicle licence plate. Yes we did a little cross-border shopping and remain pleasantly impressed the price on the tag is the price we pay at the cash register. New Hampshire, as you may be aware, has no retail sales tax. I managed to pick up a pair of $175.00 leather loafers for $35.00. The shoes were on a rack marked ’80% off’.
As a multiple decades motorcycle rider the fact it appears 99% of New Hampshire bikers don’t wear helmets makes me appreciate the state government continues to leave it to adults to make decisions affecting their lives. Enter the Granite State by road and you’re greeted by an official highway sign which reminds that those under 18 must wear seat belts, while those 18 and over are expected to use common sense.
Ah…common sense! Different things to different people. To me wearing a lid while riding a 1500cc cruiser is absolutely common sense. That and full leathers. However, if going bare scalp is your preference and you’re willing flirt with the inherent risks associated with exposing your cranium to a potential high speed impact with asphalt, so be it. Neither I as your fellow rider, nor government should be making and taking such (required helmet wearing) decisions for you. And please don’t raise the spectre of cost to the taxpayer if someone suffers major injury from not properly protecting his or her noggin while chugging along public thoroughfares. That is a false and hollow fall-back position, something I will follow up on on this weekend’s shows.
Some years ago I noted no one riding a motorcycle in New Hampshire was returning my wave. A state trooper I asked about this pointed at my helmet and asked “do you wear that while riding”? “Yes.” “That’s why” he explained. “They think you’re selling out.” So I rode for two hours wearing just a baseball cap before, yep, common sense kicked in, the helmet went back on and I sold out, I guess.
Similarly seat belts. I drove with the seat belt undone in New Hampshire and Massachusetts (N.H. is not the only state refusing to mandate seat belt use), but only for a short period of time. Common sense won out.
Nevertheless, the absence of mandatory wearing of motorcycle helmets and seat belts for multiple axled vehicles in the Granite State reminds me government generally has become intolerably intrusive and people almost inexplicably compliant.