Helmet Protester Dies in Motorcycle Accident

In an ironic twist, a man protesting New York State’s mandatory helmet law on Sunday, July 3, 2011 died when he fell from his motorcycle.

Philip A. Contos, 55, was participating in the ride with 550 other riders when he hit his brakes and his motorcycle fishtailed. Contos went over the handlebars of his 1983 Harley Davidson and hit his head on the pavement.

Contos was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries. He was not wearing a helmet.

The ride was organized by American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, ABATE, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who lobby for motorcycle awareness. The Onondaga chapter of ABATE sponsors the helmet protest ride every July 4 weekend. This year was the 11th annual ride.

New York is one of 20 states that have mandatory helmet laws. Although wearing a helmet reduces the chance of fatality by 40 percent, ABATE believes each motorcyclist should have a choice regarding helmet use.

According to the ABATE of New York website, “Mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent accidents.” ABATE believes that the decision on when to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle should remain with each responsible adult rider.

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