Its a tragic fact that often a tragedy is necessary to focus public officials attention on the need to protect people from themselves.
Last weekend, Kentucky lived up to its horrible distinction of leading the nation in the number of deaths involving all-terrain vehicles.
Casey Ryan Wilson, 14, of Elkton, was killed when the ATV he was riding struck another ATV in the rear Sunday. Both drivers and two passengers were thrown from the vehicles. Twelve-year-old Dylan Wilson is in critical condition. Two others were treated and released from hospitals. Casey died at the scene.
None was wearing a helmet.
On Saturday, 21-year-old John Snyder, a soldier at Fort Campbell, suffered fatal head injuries when the ATV he had bought only hours before crashed into a tree. A helmet was found in the cab of a pickup used to transport the ATV.
A House-passed bill pending in the Senate would not have saved Snyder, but it just might have saved Casey Wilsons life and his companions from injury. House Bill 334 requires that young people under age 16 must wear helmets while riding an ATV.
Monday, Senate President David Williams announced, Im for the ATV bill, that has been hanging in the Senate for weeks. Williams endorsement and last weekends deaths ought to be enough to move HB-334 onto the statute books.
A proposed amendment to exclude youngsters riding ATVs as part of work on a farm is ridiculous. A child can die of head injuries herding cattle as quickly as a child can die having fun on an ATV.
But if the amendment is necessary to get a helmet law on the books, so be it.
A mere law, of course, wont send every youth in the state out to buy a helmet, but perhaps it will convince enough young people and their parents that living beyond 16 is worth strapping one on.
And perhaps the attention given the helmet law and the tragic fate of a young soldier will convince enough adults to put on a helmet and not leave it in the truck so that next year Kentucky wont lead the nation in ATV slaughter.