Dumb protester of the week

July 3, 2011

A motorcyclist participating in a protest ride against helmet laws died Saturday after he flipped over the bike’s handlebars and hit his head on the pavement. [AP]

The accident happened Saturday afternoon in upstate New York near Syracuse.

Phillip A. Contos, 55, of Parish, N.Y. was riding a 1983 Harley Davidson with a group of bikers who were protesting helmet laws by not wearing helmets.

Troopers say Contos hit his brakes and the motorcycle fishtailed. The bike spun out of control, and Contos sailed over the handlebars. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Authorities say that Contos would have likely survived if he had been wearing a helmet.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The key to riding a motorcycle has nothing to do with protective gear… it has everything to do with keeping a cautionary eye on everyone else.

Statistics show that most motorcycle accidents happen within the first 6 months or 500 miles of owning a bike…. and usually in an intersection where the other guy doesn’t see you.

If truth be known, probably best to wear a helmet at all times, never leave your home and hire a food taster… but that isn’t living.

Well I am going to have to chime in here, especially where I’m reading that many MC drivers failed to brake prior to an accident, which some folks seem to think is an indication that someone cut in front of them. I have had one accident in my life and it was with a motorcycle.

I was stopped in a right turn lane and began to complete my turn when out of nowhere, this motorcycle hit me in the drivers side of my door. I had a little fiat back then and had the top down. The damn motorcycle almost climbed right into my front seat! That’s right, he was attempting to pass me on the right! Talk about total SHOCK!! To make matters worse, the next thing I knew, there was this guy with a uniform on flying down the road in front of me and I thought he was dead for sure. If that wasn’t enough, suddenly there were these bright red signs that said “FUNERAL” all over in my car!

He was a funeral cop but there was no funeral. When I got out of my car and got to him, he had managed to roll himself under a parked semi truck. He was OK. The first thing he said is he asked me if I saw how well he had managed to “put his bike down” and get himself out of the road! Then he asked me if I had seen his flashing light! Then he said he had sped up to pass me before I turned and knew at the last second that he wasn’t going to make it. It took me over 30 minutes to stop shaking that day. I just wanted to kill that guy.

SO, No he didn’t have time to brake.

Opps, Sorry folks, I was making a left hand turn and he passed me on the left. I was born left handed but was taught (forced in school) to write with my right. I have never had an easy time figuring out my right from left because I do many things with my left that others do with their right hand.

You were just born English and have a hard time accepting proper driving techniques! But seriously, this just illuminates why police statistics on MC safety can’t be included, they are quite often are required to ride in situations that a skilled MC rider would not engage in. Namely close in riding with other vehicles in an urban setting. Very unwise.

Say what you want about the intelligence of wearing all the safety gear, (I know I do ) but the simple fact remains that if this person had any skill at riding a motorcycle wearing a helmet would have been a moot point. He slammed on his breaks to a point of loosing traction and control, that is a severely amateurish move.

I know I’ve talked to lots of high mileage motorcyclist over the years and almost everyone agrees that nearly every accident on a bike is the biker’s fault. We already KNOW that car drivers don’t see us, riding as if they do is a mistake. We already KNOW that we need room to maneuver and that the only advantages we have is our superior braking, maneuverability and acceleration so riding too close together or too close to other vehicles is a mistake.

Yet we glibly allow anyone with almost no experience to buy a 800 pound motorcycle and go for it (well not in Oregon, there you at least have to attend some training)

Wow, what a statement. “nearly every accident on a bike is the bikers fault” After about 35 years of

riding. I would say your wrong. Many friends and I have been hit or pulled out in front of or u-turned.

Not to mention the rolling stops out into our way. Turn left into a driveway and kill someone coming

the other way. Maybe avoiding the idiot in the car is not an option! Maybe your riding down the road

and you see a car coming the other way. They don’t signal and turn right in front of you into there

driveway. Yes you hit them and die. No time! Your riding down the road and a car decides to pull

a -turn right when you get within 20 feet. They didn’t see you and you hit them and die. No time

to avoid. Your riding down the freeway in the slow lane. Three lanes. The car in the fast lane wants

to do a last minute exit. They didn’t see you and take you out. Never new what hit you. Two way stop

and your going down the non-stop road. The car looks right at you and pulls out right when your 15

feet away. They never say you. No time! Person texting. Your right next to them, not the blind spot. They change lanes right into you and you crash. Red light runner. Your enter in a green and the idiot

runs the red. No time. Killed. The above list is a sample of people I’ve known who were killed or

hurt. I’ve seen enough idiot drivers to know that many bikers have been killed by

just plane stupid unsafe distracted drivers.

Oh the irony!

Even as a rider, I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. RIP rider. :- (

Protest all you want but ATGATT wins, hands down. All The Gear, All The Time and I’m not talking about those stupid little bowls the Harley Riders pass off as helmets while sporting a black t-shirt and leather vest. Full face, DOT/SNELL certified helmets, Armored Jackets/Pants, and quality boots & gloves.

We as motorcyclists already have to contend with the stupid-ass soccer moms blabbing and texting as they point their SUV’s through traffic. Why leave yourself at a such an incredible disadvantage by not wearing the proper gear?

As a mother of two active kids (neither soccer though) I take offense to the comment that we are to blame for your accidents. I have NEVER texted while driving, and have never been in the car with another “soccer-mom” and witnessed them texting and driving.

I agree with your above comment about motorcycle safety, though the message was lost upon your obvious distain for active mothers.

You’re certainly welcome to disagree with my comment as much as you like. Get on a motorcycle and you’ll quickly see the incredibly obvious common denominator involved in close calls.

Good Riders tend to notice these things when people try to kill them on a fairly regular basis.

Oh, btw…it’s not just texting. It using the cell phone PERIOD!

Oh please. For my business I drive over 500 miles a week around our county. I have plenty of time to see other drivers. The majority of drivers I see on the phone (not hands free) have been young (early twenties) or men in construction/service trucks. I also see quite a number of semi truck drivers, though those are becoming less common. We have become a society of over cautious parents, and I see the reflection of that on the roadways.

Are you continuing to imply that the majority of accidents are because of soccer-moms? Do you have proof to back up this claim?



Page 9 of the NHTSA’s report on motorcycle safety shows that only 13% of motorcycle-passenger vehicle accidents involve SUV’s. The highest majority remains passenger cars and pickups.

There are many more links I can forward you if needed.

It’s quite apparent to me and probably any other riders that are viewing this, that you have no clue what you’re talking about as it relates to the operation of a motorcycle. Go back and s l o w l y read my previous response to you and it might help you get a grasp…..it might.

For you to say that you have all kinds of time to see what other drivers are doing WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING, you’re fooling yourself. You and most other drivers don’t notice 25% of what we motorcyclists do going on around us at all times. Until you put yourself in command of a motorcycle and log some miles, you will NEVER know.

You want to know what the biggest excuse is that comes from drivers of cars that have just mowed down or turned left in front of a motorcyclist?

“I didn’t see him!”

As a rider, I make eye contact with or study the actions and reactions of virtually EVERY motorist that is anywhere near me on surface streets as well as the freeway. It’s what a good rider does to stay alive. There’s absolutely no way you’re doing anything close to that while you cruise along in your cage with your Starbucks Latte in one hand and hopefully the other on the wheel, deep in thought about that next appointment your running to catch.

Sorry, I don’t buy it because I live it everyday on the highways and byways. Your 500 miles a week really aren’t much. I have you beat and do it on 2 wheels.

If you have an issue with Soccer Moms then don’t wear that hat, It makes no difference to me. I’ll close with a caution to Watch Out For Motorcycles!

Yes, while I am driving I am also watching what the drivers around me are doing. That way I am aware of the man eating his lunch to my left, or the woman blabbing on her cell phone on my right. JUST AS ANY GOOD DRIVER SHOULD DO.

My parents both ride, my brothers ride, along with many of my friends. No accident that they have personal knowlege of come from this group that you blame.

In your desire to argue that “soccer-moms’ are to blame, you miss the point that I AGREED WITH YOU! Motorcycle saftey is extremely important. When an elderly man didn’t see my friends on their motorcycle they were lucky enough to only lose a year out of their lives to physical therapy and not life itself.

What do you have against soccer-moms? Distracted driving affects EVERYONE. Honestly I will admit I was much worse of a driver in my youth, when I was distracted by everything and anything. As you age priorities change, and my focus is now on my children, and their safety and wellbeing. Ask my 9 year who still has to sit in a booster.

I don’t want to agree with you. So if you want to continue to blame “soccer-moms’ for motorcycle accidents, that’s you’re right, and we’ll have to agree to disagree. The one thing we can atleast agree on and leave this with is distracted drivers cause accidents, and everyone should be more careful while driving.

Ha ha it should have said I don’t want to AGRUE with you, not AGREE. Sorry.

Since you like statistics, I’m wondering what kind of roads you’re driving? As this NHTSA documents points-out, 90% of all Average Joe (AJ) MC accidents happen on urban and rural roads – it also says 37% of the time, AJ MC rider made no attempt to avoid the accident (an indication someone got in front of them so quickly, they didn’t have time):


Now, before you start screaming “we need mandatory training fro AJ,” you need to compare those statistics to that of highly trained Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s) who ride MC’s for a living and get tons of experience. Your LEO has almost *exactly* the same stats, according to the NHTSA:


Now, here’s a test for you while you’re driving: as you are passing (or being passed) by another vehicle, watch their (get this term right) SIDE VIEW MIRROR(s). I count the number of vehicles with their SIDE VIEW MIRROR actually pointed to the side, every year. I count *maybe* three a year (not counting trucks). Most people have those SIDE VIEW MIRRORS pointed directly behind them to the same spot they have their REAR VIEW MIRROR pointed. Hence, they have something we bikers like to call a “HUGH FREAKIN’ BLIND SPOT!!!’

By the way, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a rule proposal to make it against federal law to use a hand-held mobile telephone, including hand-held cell phones, for *any* reason, while driving a commercial vehicle:


Thank you for the links, I think a reading of the first one concerning an analysis of MC fatalities pretty much verifies my point that nearly all MC fatalities are the fault of the biker. Almost half are single vehicle crashes (mostly driver error) somewhat more than half are with passenger cars, the telling statistic where crash avoidance is particularly interesting because braking was the most common crash avoidance maneuver But even both of theses were utilized in a fraction of the cases. In a majority of crashes with passenger cars the bike was the striking vehicle and there was no attempt at avoidance.

If you ever get the chance to attend a motorcycle training class situational awareness is the first lessons and crash avoidance through maneuvering is the second

Vagabond: Never, ever, anywhere have I said “DON’T take training, it isn’t worth it!” Nor did I, or would I, suggest not wearing a helmet is a grand idea. I support both positions.

But it depends on what year, and who’s reporting, as to how many are single-vehicle (SV). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says in 2009 it was 45% SV / 55% multi-vehicle (MV). I keep seeing things in newspapers quoting the NHTSA that *reverses* those stats, but can’t find a link on the NHTSA site that quotes them for 2009. Here’s the IIHS:


Another stat I’ve seen recently (for the 4th of July scare tactics and “Let’s make MC riders look bad”) is the NHTSA saying, and I quote, “42% percent of motorcycle riders who were killed in SV crashes nationwide in 2009 had BAC levels of .08 or higher.” People remember that “42%” and “DUI” and ignore the rest.

They usually publish that MC stat alongside “national statistics indicate 32 percent of drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.”

When people read that, they think we MC riders are a bunch of drunken bums! People don’t know, and therefore they don’t do the math… since the IIHS and NHTS can’t agree, let’s use your stat: it’s 50/50 SV/MV.

So 50% times 42% equals the real statistic “21% of all MC accidents are SV accidents where the MC rider was DUI.”

But using that number doesn’t fit the NHTSA/IIHS agenda.

Trying to do the MV stats for DUI is impossible without access to a lot of other numbers. Like, who was at fault, etc. And they *never* give us a stat for MV accidents in which the MC rider was DUI, so I suspect it too, doesn’t fit the NHTSA agenda – but that’ my personal assumption..

It does surprise me that it’s nearly impossible to find a story in almost any newspaper touting the use of Headlight Modulators by so-called “experts” – the one device legal in all 50 states by federal law. They have been shown to raise conspicuity in exactly the place MC’s need it: low-light conditions (e.g. bad weather) and traffic congestion:


=== Links / Modulator Legality ===

Legal In All 50 States:


States, Cities and political subdivisions can’t preempt:


The laws of the United States are supreme (US. Constitution):


And for everyone’s sake – ***DO NOT** mention “Vehicle Miles Traveled” or you’re in for another really long post proving VMT’s for MC’s are as real as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Government Agencies being here to help!

Hope you had a safe weekend!

This morning I did as you sugested and glanced at side mirrors as I drove by. Many, just like you predicted were not faced out enough. Strange, you’d think people would would realize that they could see better if they moved their mirrors. But as my husband says- I give people too much credit.

I toatlly agree, it should be against the law for commercial vehicles to use cell phones while driving. Twice I have seen semis swerve (sp?) lanes while the driver talked on a handheld phone.

back when handsfree systems first came out, my Dad who owned a produce company had hands free systems installed in all fleet vehicles. The company imediately saw a 20% decrease in accidents. And that was before texting. Could you imagine if all commerical vehicles had these installed?

So, why are you so affended by the ‘soccer mom’ comment if your not a soccer mom. Or are you and dont want to admit it? Because even though I dont ride a motorcycle, those ‘soccer moms’ are driving giant SUV’s and are very dangerous!!

I become offended by the term because it is used to represent a group of parents who whether it be soccer, football, cheer, basebal and so on shuttle their children around town. This is a group I do indead fall into.

I drive a giant SUV, and have never been in an accident in my life. I have never even recieved a ticket for speeding. My SUV is much larger than a motorcycle, I’ll give you that.

So yes, I am totally offended by the comment that I am (as a member of this grouping) at fault for motorcycle accidents.

Yeah, helmets and gear are an inconvenience, until you need them.

My closest call was from a taxi driver not paying attention.