Summary: AFF Plan requires mandatory motorcycle helmet laws at the state level, most likely by having the federal government withhold state highway funds for states not in compliance. This brief counters that.
Released: Filed Under: Stoa Policy
About "Motorcycle Helmets"
AFF Plan requires mandatory motorcycle helmet laws at the state level, most likely by having the federal government withhold state highway funds for states not in compliance. There are two main arguments usually given for the plan: 1) saves lives; 2) reduces social costs.
For #1, it’s hard to argue that helmets don’t save lives, and there probably aren’t any reliable studies that say they don’t. However, there is evidence that the savings are exaggerated and the benefits are insignificant. And the Neg will argue that the personal freedom to assume the risk for oneself outweighs the loss of life, since the one wearing or not-wearing the helmet is the only one affected by the decision. If “saving lives” were a sufficient justification for public policy, then the correct public policy would be to ban motorcycles (and cars too, for that matter). If the Affirmative will not advocate that, then they must admit that the benefits of freedom to ride or drive outweigh the risk of lives lost in both activities and that “saving lives” is not an absolute justification for public policy.
For #2, there are several responses. “Social costs” are expenses that are shifted to society whenever a rider has an accident and his medical costs are paid by someone else. This problem, though not significant, would easily be solved with a minor repair: Require all riders to carry adequate insurance. Many states already do, and the remaining states could minor repair their insurance laws to fix it. When that happens, each rider is completely paying the cost of his own decisions and there’s no impact to society.
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