Attorney Who Defended the Right to Ride a Motorcycle Without a Helmet Dies Because He Wasn’t Wearing One

Ron Smith, an attorney, fiercely pushed to have Florida’s motorcycle helmet restrictions repealed in the late 1990s. He and his companion perished on August 20, 2022, while operating a motorcycle without a helmet.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Smith was a part of the ABATE organization, which stands for A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments and American Bikers Aimed Toward Education. The organization battled for many years to overturn a Florida rule mandating bikers to wear helmets.

Smith defended many clients who disregarded the helmet regulation, and many claim that these court battles ultimately assisted in the state’s helmet law being overturned. In 2000, the state changed the rule, allowing motorcycle riders over 21 to do without a helmet as long as they had $10,000 in available insurance coverage for injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents.

A year later, an investigation reported in the American Journal of Public Health revealed a 48.6% rise in the number of fatalities involving motorbike occupants.

According to Dave Newman, a friend of Smith’s whom he met through an Old Town American Legion post, Smith was a staunch supporter of independence and disliked being told what to do. He believed that each individual should have their own choice. Read more