Florida Lawyer Who Advocated Helmet Laws Died In Fatal Cycling Accident Without Headgear » WhatsNew2Day


A Florida attorney credited with overturning state laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets died along with his girlfriend after their motorcycle crashed — while neither of them wore helmets.

Ron Smith, 66, was on his way to a memorial service for another motorcyclist in August when his bicycle crashed into a trailer on a truck while trying to slow down for traffic ahead.

His 62-year-old girlfriend, Brenda Jeanan Volpe, who was a passenger on the bicycle, was also killed.

It’s unclear if wearing helmets could have saved the couple, but the Tampa Bay Times reported that an autopsy report confirmed that both died of blunt head trauma.

“It’s entirely possible they would have survived if they had worn a helmet, but again, we can’t say for sure,” said Eric Teoh, who has researched motorcycle safety at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. , at the local point of sale.

“It would certainly have increased their chances.” Smith was a veteran attorney whose cases against Florida’s motorcycle helmet law were credited with helping to overturn that statute in 2000.

He believed the rule was “totalitarian” and successfully opposed it by emphasizing that there was no mention of it in the state’s Department of Transportation’s safety guidelines.

Smith’s friends said he wanted people to have a chance to decide for themselves whether to wear helmets, though the reason for his personal hostility towards them is unknown.

Florida attorney Ron Smith (pictured), 66, who advocated laws requiring motorcyclists to wear headgear to ride, died in fatal helmetless bicycle accident

Florida attorney Ron Smith (pictured), 66, who advocated laws requiring motorcyclists to wear headgear to ride, died in fatal helmetless bicycle accident

Smith (left) was on his way to a memorial service for another motorcyclist in August with his 62-year-old girlfriend, Brenda Jeanan Volpe (right), who was a passenger on the bike when he crashed

Smith (left) was on his way to a memorial service for another motorcyclist in August with his 62-year-old girlfriend, Brenda Jeanan Volpe (right), who was a passenger on the bike when he crashed

Smith (left) was on his way to a memorial service for another motorcyclist in August with his 62-year-old girlfriend, Brenda Jeanan Volpe (right), who was a passenger on the bike when he crashed

Florida highway patrol spokesman Steve Gaskins told the Times that no one was charged in the accident.

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Administration helmets reduce the risk of death for motorcyclists by 37 percent, while helmets are 41 percent effective for motorcycle passengers.

In states without helmet laws, 57 percent of motorcyclists who died in 2020 were not wearing helmets, compared with 11 percent of motorcyclists in states with helmet laws.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring helmets for all riders on all motor vehicles.

According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Road Safety The death rate in Florida rose to 25 percent after the helmet law was repealed, while the number of motorcyclists hospitalized with head injuries rose to 82 percent 30 months after the law was changed.

“Motorcyclists are at greater risk on the road than occupants of closed vehicles,” Teoh said.

1666821354 962 Florida lawyer who advocated helmet laws died in fatal cycling

1666821354 962 Florida lawyer who advocated helmet laws died in fatal cycling

Smith was remembered by friends as someone who believed in people’s independence and was characterized as a “sharp lawyer who liked to argue”

Volpe (pictured) was remembered on an online tribute page as a 'truly beautiful person' who will be missed

Volpe (pictured) was remembered on an online tribute page as a 'truly beautiful person' who will be missed

Volpe (pictured) was remembered on an online tribute page as a ‘truly beautiful person’ who will be missed

“So it’s just really, really important to protect oneself.”

Smith was a member of American Bikers Aided Toward Education (ABATE), an advocacy group that lobbied against helmet laws.

The 66-year-old attorney often represented clients caught violating motorcycle safety laws in cases experts say may have helped overturn the state’s mandatory helmet law.

Smith spent over a decade fighting helmet laws,

And one case he represented went to the 2nd district court.

The case showed Florida’s helmet law was constitutional, but the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles failed to properly publish a list of protective gear as required by the law.

That case is credited with helping to overturn the law.

In 2000, Florida changed its laws to state that anyone over the age of 21 was no longer required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle, if they had more than $10,000 in insurance to cover accidents.

Smith was remembered by friends as a person who believed in people’s independence and was characterized as a “sharp lawyer who liked to argue, but also had a dry sense of humor and a generous spirit.”

While Volpe was remembered on a online tribute page as a ‘truly beautiful person’ who will be missed.

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