AAA Michigan strongly opposes legislation voted out of the Senate Transportation Committee today which -if approved – would repeal Michigan’s nearly four-decade old mandatory motorcycle helmet law.
Senate Bill 291 – which was approved by a vote of five to one – would allow individuals 21 years of age or older to ride without a helmet if they have had their motorcycle endorsement for two or more years, or passed a motorcycle safety course.
A similar bill under consideration, House Bill 4008, would allow individuals who are 21 years of age or older to ride without a helmet if they have a $20,000 medical policy in place.
AAA Michigan opposes both bills, noting that $20,000 in medical coverage would barely touch the amount of medical costs resulting from these types of motorcycle accidents. Both proposals will result in more motorcycle fatalities and injuries and higher costs for all motorists.
A spring poll of some 600 likely Michigan voters statewide by Marketing Research Group (MRG), Inc. of Lansing shows that 81 percent of the state’s residents believe the current mandatory helmet law should be maintained. Only sixteen percent said Michigan motorcycle riders should not be required to wear a helmet.
Surveys of AAA Michigan members over many years also confirm ongoing, overwhelming support for the law. In this year’s member survey, 90 percent favored keeping the helmet law.
However, challengers of the state’s mandatory helmet law annually try to get it repealed without regard for the common good or the will of the public. An Office of Highway Safety Planning analysis found that a repeal of the law would result in at least 30 additional motorcycle fatalities each year, along with 127 more incapacitating injuries and $129 million in additional economic costs to citizens.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in the three years after Florida’s repeal of its mandatory helmet law there was an 81 percent increase in fatalities. Another study found that fatalities grew by more than 50 percent in Kentucky and 100 percent in Louisiana after those states struck down mandatory helmet laws.
Motorcycle crashes account for a disproportionate share of money paid out of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA), a fund supported by a surcharge on every auto insurance policy in the state. While motorcyclists represent two percent of the assessment paid into the MCCA, they account for five percent of money paid. They represent 7.3 percent of all claims reported to the MCCA.
AAA Michigan urges legislators to keep Michigan’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law, and encourages residents to contact their local legislators on this very important issue. To contact your local legislator, go to: legislature.mi.gov.