The "squeaky wheel" effect:
And, ABATE's done a good job of making lawmakers listen. Fort Wayne state representative Win Moses says, "If you sponsor a bill in the legislature advocating a helmet law, you may have one thousand Harley Davidson riders on your front lawn for a long time. That's how strongly they feel about it." I asked Moses if there's been an outcry from the insurance industry or a citizens group. He responded, "There's hasn't been an outcry that equals the ABATE program." And, until that changes, Moses says, expect to continue seeing motorcyclists riding without helmets on Indiana roads.
That's a pretty honest political answer to explain Indiana's indefensible legislative contradiction of mandating seat belts but not motorcycle helments (the arguments for and against are exactly the same; require both or neither). Car drivers are not an interest group. Motorcycle riders are.
Getting all riled up and making legislatures pay attention is tricky business. Homeowners outraged at soaring property taxes got the hang of it this year. They might get a special session of the General Assembly, and they surely will get some relief. Fort Wayne bar owners upset at the loss of revenue from the smoking ban are having a rougher go. They're trying to get smokers to react as one, but they're not having much luck so far. In fact, they might even be increasing the pressure on the county to make its ban tougher. A bad habit is not something a lot of people want to rally around.