The helmet is for us a social conquest and an indispensable lifesaver. Few know that the obligation was adopted on the impetus of the “Maurizio Costanzo Show” in the mid-eighties. Public opinion was involved in the drama of a Genoese father who had lost his daughter
February 28, 2023
Hi everyone! Did you know that the law on mandatory helmet for the bike, here in Italy, he arrived on the impetus of Maurice Costanzo? It is a detail that comes to my mind these days, when it became known that the famous Roman journalist passed away at the age of 84 last February 24th.
I never knew or met Costanzo, but I followed his talk show. The Maurizio Costanzo Show appeared in 1982 on Rete 4 and after a few years it became a daily and evening “living room” on Canale 5. It was an innovative formula that changed television: the conductor skilfully animated the speeches, his guests were well-known faces entertainment, politics, or strangers who had something to tell. With a great success, almost 4,500 episodes, 40 years of history, the discovery of many characters…
But I come to the helmet. Up until the mid-1980s – older people like me remember it well – there was still no obligation. Latest in Europe, we would only get there in 86: when minors had to wear it forcibly due to the new law (of 11 January), while adults were free not to use it only and exclusively when driving mopeds. Many years later, from 30 March 2000, the obligation for everyone would have taken effect.
And it was Costanzo himself who stirred the waters: he hosted a Genoese professional on his show, I think he was a doctor, who had recently dramatically lost his fifteen-year-old daughter in a car accident. The girl was without a helmet driving a fifty, was hit by a car. That guest was seen more than once and his suffering struck him: he asked that the younger ones be thought of, that the helmet become an obligation at least for them.
It was the spectators and then public opinion that pushed politics towards the obligation to wear helmets. We arrived last in Europe due to the resistance of the manufacturers, of course, who feared a drop in sales if the obligation were passed. A guilty short-sightedness, but those were the times: instead of sending a message about the beauty of the helmet, instead of giving a very colorful one to those who bought the Vespa 50, Piaggio had commissioned a study on the dangers of helmets from I don’t know which Polytechnic anymore: reduces side visibility and removes sound from the ears. Many of us even then expressed some perplexity.
Of course I don’t know if Maurizio Costanzo wanted to do public service, or if he was only pursuing visibility, or power, or perhaps all three together. But I can easily imagine that, at the time, there was some pressure for him to stop. Is strong. I’ve never met Costanzo, but I’ve always been grateful to him for this battle of his.
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