Originally posted by Buck Lovell on Wednesday, 02 November 2011 in Buck Lovell's - American Biker Blog
Nevada's helmet law was originally enacted in 1972 and all efforts until now to repeal it have failed. But this situation could change if a lawsuit filed by a dozen local bikers is successful.
In a suit filed last week in U.S. District Court against the Clark County, Nevada and five cities within this County (Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Mesquite and Boulder City), the plaintiffs say helmet law enforcement efforts violate their Fourth Amendment protections from illegal search and seizure. In it, bikers claim an ongoing pattern and practice of issuing helmet law citations that are not supported by constitutionally sufficient probable cause, thereby violating their civil rights. Law enforcement has used the helmet law as a tool to stop bikers by claiming their helmets don't "appear" to be legal when in fact a visual examination cannot determine the helmets legal status.
DOT or NHTSA does not "approve" motorcycle helmets, thus, there is no list of "approved" helmets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the statutory authority to issue Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) applicable to motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment, including motorcycle helmets. The law establishes a self-certification process in which the motorcycle helmet manufacturers certify that their products are in compliance with FMVSS No. 218, which establishes minimum performance requirements that the products must meet. NHTSA enforces the standard by randomly selecting and purchasing motorcycle helmets from the marketplace and testing to the requirements of the standard at independent test labs.
Most recent studies show that states with no helmet laws actually have a fatality rate lower than that of states with mandatory helmet laws. Several reasons are given for this. Firstly, states with voluntary helmet laws as a whole have better rider education programs and better-prepared riders. This education leads to better decisions made by the riders that in turn, reduce accidents and fatalities. The second reason for this fact is the increased number of registrations translated to more bikes on the road. There are in fact more fatalities as a whole, but when compared to the number of registrations, the fatalities per rider are actually less.