After accident, student fights for new helmet law

Hope for a HelmetImagine this. You’re driving down a street at night on a moped. You strike a curb and lose control. Trying to keep the moped in control you swerve into the median where you crash the moped into a tree, which sends you flying, and then darkness.

If this sounds familiar to some, then you may have heard the story of 17-year-old Caroline Found who was driving her moped on the night of Aug. 11, 2011 in Iowa City. Found may have been able to save her life if she had one safety device, a helmet. Now, one St. Ambrose student is fighting for her lost friend and to keep the youth safe while operating a moped.

Olivia Lofgren, an exercise science major from Iowa City, was high school friends with Found.

“To funnel my (our) emotions me, Leah Murray and Caroline Van Voorhis (all from my high school) teamed up with Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa and attorney, Joe Moreland, [to form] our campaign, Hope for a Helmet,” Lofgren described.
Lofgren, Murray and Van Voorhis traveled to the Iowa State Capitol on Feb. 7 to meet with the Transportation Sub Committee to try and get bill S.F. 37 passed through the state legislature. The bill would require anyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while operating a motorized bike vehicle. An infraction of this law would result in a $100 fine.

Opponents of the bill believe that this would just be a stepping stone to requiring all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, a move that they are criticizing as overstepping the fine line between what the government can and cannot tell you what to do. It was one of the concerns that prevented Lofgren from getting her bill passed last year.

“Those concerns still remain,” Lofgren continued, “but this law would only require youth under age 18 to wear a helmet. We are not telling adults what to do, we are simply trying to save the youth of Iowa.”

On the other side of the isle, they believe that education is what prevents crashes, not helmets.

“Helmets do not stop crashes,” Mark Maxwell said. He is a lobbyist for the motorcycle group A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education. “Training and education is what stops crashes.”
On Thursday, Lofgren and six others presented a petition which included close to 1,700 signatures including those from EMT’s and members of the Brain Injury Association of Iowa to the Subcommittee.

The Subcommittee decided to pass it along to the Senate Transportation Committee. Lofgren knows that this will be a long process, but cites another famous law in how long that took to pass through the Iowa legislature.
“Yesterday’s meeting was a great success,” an excited Lofgren said. “It took the seat belt law seven to nine years to pass, so we will continue to fight this battle.”
For now, Lofgren will continue to fight for her fallen friend in hopes that they can prevent the kind of tragedy that happened on that late night in August in Iowa City.
“The support across the state is huge,” Lofgren said. “If we can save one person’s life, we’ve done our part.”

The group will wait to get a call from the Iowa State Capitol to speak with the Transportation Committee. Until then, Lofgren hopes others who believe in the cause will join the fight by signing the petition on the Hope for a Helmet Facebook page.


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