My proposal for all of you that feel that wearing a motorcycle helmet or seat belt is too restricting for your life

This whole situation with Ben Roethlisberger has brought to light some issues with society that I think need to be addressed.

We throw a lot of terms around pretty freely concerning freedom that we don't totally understand. Freedom of speech, freedom of choice, freedom to steal elections, etc. And with Big Ben's motorcycle accident the whole groundswell of "it's my choice whether I want to wear a helmet when I ride or not" has started up yet again.

I think people confuse the idea of freedom of choice with freedom from consequences of those choices.

As reported in the Enquirer today, cyclists that get in an accident are more than four times as likely to suffer head injuries if they are not wearing a helmet. Similarly, statistics have shown that car passengers are less likely to be injured or killed if they are wearing a seatbelt.

Now, these people that choose not to wear helmets or buckle up will give you the same old tired excuses: it's too restraining, I'll do what I want, the government isn't going to tell me what to do...and on and on. But as clearly shown above, not doing those increases the likelihood of you being injured more severely, which obviously runs up greater medical expenses, which the insurance companies (or in some cases the government) has to cough up the money for.

See, these people want to engage in riskier behavior, but I'm sure that if they do get into an accident they want the same level of healthcare as those who decide to buckle up or strap on a helmet (as well they should, we are a compassionate society after all).

In my perfect world, behaviors like this would be baked into the person's health insurance premiums, so they would pay more into the system in the first place (and it's my belief that all risky behaviors and health habits ought to be factored in to your health insurance rates, but that's a completely different post). But that's not going to happen.

So here's my solution that I've had in my brain for a good 10 minutes. If you want to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, or drive without wearing your seat belt, when you renew your license plates every year you need to purchase an additional license. The BMV would then give you a red sticker or something to put on your license plate. The cost of this would differ between helmetless riders and no seat-belters.

Basically the additional license fee would act as a high-risk insurance pool. The fees would be based on some sort of hospital cost data that calculated the increased costs associated with not wearing a helmet or seat belt, how many people would likely purchase this insurance, and many other factors (my guess is that the fee would be prohibitively high). But this way you would be able to make your statement that you don't want to wear a helmet or seat belt, and you're willing to take the financial risk to enjoy that. If you do get into an accident, then your medical expenses are covered by the funds in the pool. And if you don't wear a helmet and you don't have the red sticker, you get a ticket.

This way everyone gets covered. The people that want to ride without helmets or seat belts can, and the rest of us that practice safe driving and riding don't end up footing the bill for their stupidity.

And that, my friends, is how freedom of choice works.

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