Thursday, July 17, 2008

Libertarian NC State Senate candidate Jan MacKay challenges poorly written helmet laws, ah, ... head-on!?

Here's one Libertarian candidate that Shirley's Delaware Curmudgeon covers better than I can: Jan MacKay, running for NC State Senate in District 15. (But Shirley has the advantage of being a friend and fellow-biker.)

Still, if you take the time to visit the piece and read MacKay's brief about (specifically) poorly worded motorcycle helmet laws and (in more general terms) about vaguely worded legislation, you'll realize that this is a serious, thoughtful candidate for the NC State Senate.

Here's an excerpt:

How can motorcyclists ensure, with absolute certainty, that their helmet is compliant with federal motor vehicle safety standard "FMVSS 218?"

The federal government does not maintain a list of approved helmets, and by its' own admission, does not approve helmets. They do not test helmets prior to allowing them onto store shelves.

The standard calls for manufacturers to "self-certify" that each and every helmet they sell complies with the long list of requirements and specifications in FMVSS 218.

"If law enforcement suspects a helmet does not comply with the standard, rather than go after the manufacturer, they go after the consumer! This establishes a dangerous precedent, and should be of concern to every motorist and consumer. Imagine if they went after consumers to comply with all the hundreds of motor vehicle equipment items controlled by FMVSS.

Then, imagine if the FDA did this! It would take responsibility from the drug manufacturers, putting a burden of compliance on anyone who legally uses prescription drugs."

"Since the Governors office and the state legislators have no idea of how to answer that basic question of how to comply, for those lawful citizens who wish to abide by the statute, it is not right for them to leave this up to the citizens, and then ticket them for not complying.

The NC helmet statute is vague, because it points to a standard which is not meant to be adhered to by consumers. At present, it is arbitrarily enforced using ad hoc determination by law enforcement who cannot test a helmet for compliance or non-compliance during a roadside stop.

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