Easter Bunny Pulled Over for Defying Calif. Helmet Laws

California Highway Patrolman delivering a safety lecture to the Easter Bunny

Photo: California Highway Patrol

Egg hunts were delayed yesterday in Southern California when the Easter Bunny was pulled over for riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet.

The giant rabbit was driving his bike, complete with sidecar, near San Diego when highway patrol officer Adam Griffiths pulled him over and delivered a lecture.

“Griffiths told him it was a serious situation and that it wasn’t a joke,” a police spokesperson told a local news source. “He explained to him the safety ramifications of not having a helmet,” and that “his outfit was a visual impairment, he was not able to be aware of his surroundings, and therefore he threatened his own safety, and that of others.”

According to California law, “A driver and any passenger shall wear a safety helmet . . . when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.” Fines for failure to comply can run between $10 and $250.


Public Concern

Nineteen other states plus Washington, D.C., also require all motorists to wear a helmet. An additional 28 states have laws that mandate helmets for riders or drivers under a certain age, while Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire have no helmet laws, according to the National Institute for Highway Safety.

Attorney Jim Larsen headshot

Jim Larsen

“Proponents of motorcycle helmet laws generally point to the fact that they have been proven to save lives and reduce the extent of head injuries,” writes Jim Larsen, an accident attorney in northern California with the GJEL firm. Helmets save an estimated 1,800 lives per year and could save an additional 800 if all riders wore them, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

However, not everyone is on board. “Opponents of motorcycle helmet laws say the NHTSA information is suspect, due to the fact that the agency supports a nationwide helmet law,” Larsen notes. Anti-helmeters also invoke personal freedom arguments about their right to not protect their heads.

However, a federal court in Massachusetts upheld the state’s helmet law in 1972, stating, “The public has an interest in minimizing the resources directly involved. From the moment of injury, society picks the person up off the highway; delivers him to a municipal hospital and municipal doctors; provides him with unemployment compensation if, after recovery, he cannot replace his lost job; and, if the injury causes permanent disability, may assume responsibility for his and his family’s subsistence. We do not understand a state of mind that permits plaintiff to think that only he himself is concerned.” The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the ruling.

For his part, the Easter Bunny may have had trouble finding a helmet that would accommodate his oversized ears. The officer issued a warning and let him go on his way without a citation, provided that he take off the vision-restricting rabbit head for the duration of the ride.

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