Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws Scholarship

In 1966, the United States federal government offered highway construction funds to states that passed universal motorcycle helmet laws. Forty-seven states and Washington D.C. complied but when penalties were lifted in the mid-seventies, nearly half of the states repealed or modified their laws. Today several states, Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire have no laws governing the use of helmets; 28 states have helmet laws with age and/or health insurance contingencies; 19 states and Washington D.C. require helmets be worn by all operators and riders. See current helmet laws listed by state.

American culture often rejects governmental paternalistic values [(def.) government interference that overrides the liberties of individuals for their own good], claiming their natural rights and freedoms in favor of libertarian principles [(def.) less government involvement and more personal choice].

Read this article from the American Journal of Public Health 2007 February; 97(2): 208–217, for a history of universal helmet laws.

In 750+ words, use statistical data and persuasion to make the paternalistic argument in favor of the enactment of universal helmet laws―or citing the constitution and using the art of persuasion, make the libertarian argument against universally mandated helmet legislation. Essays will be judged―not on your stance―but upon the use of a factual and persuasive argument to defend your position.