Bareheaded Motorcycle Driver Dies in Helmet Protest Ride


In one of the more ironic motorcycle accident deaths in recent memory, an upstate New York man’s life was ended prematurely due to his misguided principles. Philip Contos from Parish, New York died over the weekend while participating in a bike ride protesting New York’s mandatory helmet laws.

During the ride, Contos began fishtailing after hitting the brakes on his 1983 Harley Davidson. This caused him to lose control of the motorcycle, and he was thrown over the handlebars before hitting his head on the pavement. He was transported to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, but he died before reaching the hospital.

The protest ride was organized by the Onondaga, New York chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE). Despite the tragic events occurring during the protest ride, ABATE still stands by their opposition to mandatory helmet laws. Thomas Alton, the New York State president of ABATE, said, “We are riding at an increased risk and accept that….This individual was a seasoned rider, not a newbie. He made an adult decision. A full decision to ride in the manner he rode in.”

Interestingly, state police and medical professionals at the scene believe that Contos would have survived the motorcycle accident had he been wearing the helmet mandated by state law.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, motorcycle helmet use decreased from 67% in 2009 to 54% in 2010. Due to the lack of protection afforded by motorcycles, helmets become an important piece of safety equipment which can greatly increase your chances of survival in a serious motorcycle accident.