The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has sent out a press release about the DOE’s (Department of the Environment – Northern Ireland) recent consultation which proposes the mandatory wearing of helmets by trike riders and their passengers on public roads.
MAG’s opposition to this proposal reflects the groups continued opposition of the enforcement of compulsory helmet wearing in principle by motorcycle riders.
The group formed in 1973 reiterated its, “long-standing position on the issue as it relates to all vehicle users is an unacceptable infringement of civil liberty that is not supported by an adequate body of evidence to justify it.”
The press release continues that, “Furthermore the infringement of the civil rights of bikers is a grossly disproportionate application of law. It is hypocritical to place unwarranted demands on a minority on a false premise while neglecting to address real issues.
The premise is that un-helmeted bikers represented a significant public burden in terms of health care
costs which could be minimised by enforcing helmet wearing. There is no evidence to support this assumption whereas the evidence linking other lifestyle choices to serious and fatal disorders on an incomparable scale is irrefutable.”
MAG President Ian Mutch commented: “Statistically the move seems to be trying to address a problem that does not exist. In the six years between 2008 and 2014 there have been only two fatalities and three serious injuries sustained by trike riders in Northern Ireland. No evidence exists to suggest that a helmet law might have affected this tiny number of cases.
The move to enforce helmet wearing for trike riders in common with the wider helmet law for all bikers would seem to be motivated more by an unhealthy appetite for conformity than any objective assessment.”
In an earlier article on this consultation (2nd July), Right To Ride’s Elaine Hardy stated that “there is another perspective which is that because trikes are far more stable – they have three wheels – in a certain respect, there is far less possibility of suffering injuries or fatalities by riding a trike – statistically they don’t even appear as an issue – 2 fatalities between 2008 and 2014 (6 years) in Northern Ireland – 3 seriously injured – during the same period. These figures do not reflect the fact that these riders would have died or been seriously injured anyway – in other words, head protection or lack of, wasn’t the cause of their death.”
Legislation Should Come Through The Democratic Process
We at Right To Ride are in principle, in agreement with what MAG has set out in the press release dated 22nd July.
However, in our view this perspective has limitations.
By looking closer at the underlying issues which are pertinent to Northern Ireland, specifically the manner in which the consultation was proposed and who proposed the way in which the consultation was formed, we raised a far more important problem, which is “What we do not seem to have is any commitment other than from Civil Servants, who should not, in our opinion, be a “driving” force to introduce primary legislation into a bill at this late stage in the bill’s development. This is a matter for elected representatives and a step too far for unelected officials to be considering.
Legislation should come through the democratic process – the citizen first and then our elected representatives – not driven by these civil servants and any personal road safety thoughts or good ideas that they may have.
The notion that a government department, in this instance, the DOE, its minister and officials knows better, is of concern in this last bastion of road user freedom.”
Original Source – MAG Press Release – (Motorcycle Action Group)
Northern Ireland – Right To Ride on the proposals in the consultation – Click Here
Electronic copies of the consultation papers are available on the DOE’s website in the Road Users – Road Safety and Vehicle Regulation – Consultations & Publications – Consultations section.
The direct link to the papers can be found by – Clicking Here
Or direct from here on Right To Ride:
Responses should be received no later than Wednesday, 19 August 2015.