Last year we pointed to a study that showed that motorcycle-related fatalities went up dramatically in Pennsylvania after the state repealed its helmet law.
At the time I thought that was a bad thing. Now I realize how wrong I was.
According to Freakonomics, repealing helmet laws is a good way to increase the availability of much-needed organs. Helmet law proponents argue that the costs of caring for helmetless morons are justification enough, but a paper by some Michigan State economists says nuh-uh:
This paper finds evidence that helmet laws also decrease the social benefits of helmetless riding by reducing the number of organ donors. Our central estimates show that organ donations due to motor vehicle accidents increase by 10 percent when states repeal helmet laws. Nearly all of this effect is concentrated among men, who account for over 90 percent of motorcyclist fatalities. Helmet law repeals are unrelated to changes in the number of organ donors due to reasons other than motor vehicle accidents, suggesting that the association between the laws and organ donations does not merely reflect differences in underlying trends between states with and without universal laws.
Fortunately for everyone, I have a solution. I think helmet laws should be mandatory but motorcyclists should be allowed to paint them to look like giant fruits. That way you would always know which motorcycle gang was coming down the street. “Oh look, there go the nectarines,” you’d say. “I saw a bunch of papayas a few miles back. Maybe they’re going to rumble.” Only instead of rumbles they’d be called smoothies. Also you should have to donate a kidney when you buy a motorcycle.
No Helmets for More Organs [Freakonomics]