Helmet Laws and Organ Donations
Tyler Cowen passes along a paper [PDF] which finds that “every death of a helmetless motorcyclist prevents or delays as many as 0.33 deaths among individuals on organ transplant waiting lists.” The study is titled “Donorcycles: Do Motorcycle Helmet Laws Reduce Organ Donations?”
On balance, I oppose helmet and seatbelt laws on the grounds that the negative externalities imposed by the reckless behavior in question doesn’t outweigh the loss of individual liberty, given how rare serious crashes are. The organ donation issue obviously moves the needle further in that direction. For those unconcerned about liberty, of course, saving 0.33 lives at the cost of 1.00 lives is a bad tradeoff.
Regardless, however, the “Donorcycles” concept would be a good one for one of those PSAs that networks are required to air in exchange for use of the public airwaves. A satirical ad wherein those who chose to ride without a helmet are thanked for their generosity in helping meet the demands for organs might well be an effective tool for persuading people to change their behavior.