- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It comes as a surprise that our proactive city leaders have not contemplated the need to enact an all-inclusive helmet law in response to the fallout associated with the motorcycle crackup of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Our city leaders rarely miss an opportunity to embrace behavior-changing legislation that leads to ever more fines, especially legislation that is touted to save lives. And the wearing of helmets saves lives.

You know this to be so by the parents of the helmet-wearing tykes in the neighborhood. These helmet-wearing tykes motor up and down the alley on their tricycles, no doubt traveling at the high speed of 1 mph. The damage would be unthinkable if they ever had a spill and were not wearing a helmet provided to them by their diligent parents.

The helmet legislation certainly would be beneficial to the ever-oblivious IPod joggers in our midst. Their growing presence is at odds with their sense of isolation and vulnerability. You wonder how they do not end up as roadkill. You could mug an IPod jogger or slam a vehicle into one and the person would be unaware of it. At least a helmet would provide the person with a small measure of defense against the environment.

The IPod jogger is as worrisome as the obsessive cell-phone user having an animated discussion while crossing a busy intersection. The cell-phone person also could benefit from a law that requires the wearing of a helmet.

You know a cell-phone person has descended into a special kind of madness when his or her interaction skills no longer include the breathing souls in his or her vicinity. The Cell Phone Woman, as she has been dubbed in our stretch of the city, uses the neighborhood watering hole as a telephone booth.

Her peculiar behavior pattern has prompted employees to put a clock to her cell-phone activities. Employees figure she spends about three-fourths of her time in the establishment on the cell phone, regardless of the victims who elected to go to the place with her. Her cell phone is an accessory, not unlike an earring. It also is her date, her companion and her significant other, and she seems utterly lost, fidgety even, the few minutes she does not have it stuck to her ear.

It seems there are four kinds of people in our city: the IPod joggers, the obsessive-compulsive cell-phone users, those committed to the BlackBerry and women who navigate their vehicles while applying makeup.

Of the latter, should there not be a hands-free makeup law? Or at least a law that requires those applying makeup to wear a helmet in the event of an accident caused by their inattention? Adrian Fenty and Linda Cropp, we await your stand on this vital public issue.

The BlackBerry user is often a man and often is consumed with the e-mail bombardment, regardless of his surroundings. This, too, is dangerous, and the person would be served better if his usage required the wearing of a helmet, even in his home, because serious accidents happen there, as well.

Of course, the city would have a difficult time enforcing the helmet law on a person’s private premises unless our leaders elected to install cameras in the homes of all BlackBerry users. That would not necessarily be an intrusive measure because cameras save lives, as we all know.

If you really consider it, no one should leave home without a helmet. Just think of the jaywalking pedestrians whose lives might have been spared in the past year if they had been wearing helmets.

The wearing of a helmet even could become fashionable, not unlike in the manner of baggy jeans. It was not too many years ago that the only people who wore jeans with the crotches at the knees were plumbers. Little did anyone realize at the time that these seemingly rumpled souls were trendsetters.

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