AAA Michigan Disappointed in Helmet Law Repeal, Signed by Governor, Taking Effect Today

Apr 13, 2012, 12:04 ET from AAA Michigan

DEARBORN, Mich., April 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- AAA Michigan is extremely disappointed that legislation which allows some motorcyclists to ride without a helmet on the state's roadways has been signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder.  Public Act 98, which takes effect today, is poor public policy and will increase motorcycle fatalities and injuries, AAA Michigan reports. 

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The repeal erases more than three decades of Michigan's mandatory helmet law.  The new law allows motorcyclists to ride without a helmet if they have a $20,000 medical policy, have had the cycle endorsement for at least two years, or completed a motorcycle safety course.

The governor had earlier indicated he would not be supportive of the helmet law unless it was tied to some form of no-fault auto insurance reform.   Because the repeal will result in additional injuries -- which will ultimately be paid for by all Michigan motorists -- the need is even more critical for changes in the state's current no-fault system.

The repeal of the motorcycle helmet law will result in at least 30 additional motorcycle fatalities each year, along with 127 more incapacitating injuries and $129 million in added economic costs to Michigan residents.  This analysis by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning is based on the experience of other states where similar measures have been enacted.  As evidenced by increased medical costs passed on to taxpayers, motorcycle deaths and long-term catastrophic injuries are on the rise.

Motorcycle crashes account for a disproportionate share of money paid out of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA), a fund which is supported by a surcharge on every auto insurance policy in Michigan.  Although motorcyclists represent 1.9 percent of the assessments paid into the MCCA, they account for 5 percent of all money paid out and 7 percent of all claims reported.  Since its inception in 1978, MCCA has reimbursed member insurers more than $321 million for 712 motorcycle injury claims exceeding the threshold.

Challengers of Michigan's mandatory motorcycle helmet law had tried for years to get the law repealed without regard for the common good.  Surveys of AAA Michigan members over many years showed overwhelming support for keeping the mandatory helmet law.

AAA Michigan encourages all motorcyclists to always wear their helmets while riding as a safety precaution.