trailgumby wrote:The question is not whether helmets reduce injury rates or not - it is clear that they do.
The issue is whether the societal costs of legal compulsion - reduced participation and exercise rates, poorer health due to inactivity, increased pollution due to greater congestion from increased motor vehicle use in our cities, consequent impact on health care costs and loss of quality of life - are greater. I believe they are.
Sorry to be jumping in at this late stage but there is another aspect to this argument which I think weakens the libertarian view that it should be a matter of free choice etc - this is, if we accept that helmets reduce risk of injury, then society inevitably bears some of the costs of non-helmet use e.g costs of health care, rehabilitation, disability payments. The issue seems analogous to that of a candidate for a liver transplant being given the choice to abuse alcohol. In both cases individuals are potentially exercising a free choice that ultimately has implications for society's scarce health resources (and thus denying others of these resources). Perhaps therefore an argument for making them compulsory is not specifically to protect people from themselves but simply because the rest of us don't want to pay for people's bad decisions.