Mandatory Helmet Law

Michigan's mandatory helmet law is modified

On Wednesday May 29th, by a vote of 58 yeas and 46 nays, the Michigan House of Representatives passed HB4823 to modify Michigan's mandatory helmet law. This bill will allow adult motorcyclists, 21 years or older and having at least two years of a motorcycle endorsement OR having taken a certified motorcycle safety course, the option of wearing a motorcycle helmet.

Over 500 motorcyclists participated in a rally sponsored by ABATE of Michigan earlier in the day on the capitol steps. Speakers included representatives from ABATE and the motorcycling community along with several State Representatives including Representative Gene DeRossett, Manchester, the sponsor of the bill. After the vote, DeRossett commented that "This is a clear victory for individual responsibility. This issue is about safety and education and the helmet LAW does nothing to make a safer rider. Riders education, licensing and awareness programs make a safer rider, not a piece of equipment with questionable benefits."

There has been an ongoing barrage of misinformation and a misrepresentation of the facts on this issue. Comments implying that States repealing helmet laws have "as much as 40% increase in fatalities" are simply not true. The facts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that motorcycle fatalities are down over 50% since 1985 and that is with 30 states allowing adult choice on the motorcycle helmet issue.

The pro helmet law crowd implies that if Michigan repeals the helmet law insurance rates will skyrocket. This also is simply not true. There has been no state that increased insurance rates with the modification of their helmet law and, more significantly, there have been no DECREASES in insurance rates with the implementation of a helmet law. Simply saying something is true doesn't make it so.

The Governor of Wisconsin ordered the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation to do an in depth study on fatal motorcycle accidents. They found that while 29.4% of the fatal motorcycle accident victims who died from head injuries were wearing a helmet, only 28.9% were not wearing a helmet. The comparison of percentages, while favoring individual choice, is insignificant since there appears to be little difference in fatalities between those wearing a helmet and those not wearing a helmet.

Lastly is the fact that motorcycle helmets are tested for speeds of no more than 14 m.p.h. and with that over 70% of the helmets tested failed the testing process.

ABATE of Michigan and the vast majority of its supporters believe that riders education and awareness programs are the answer to reducing motorcycle fatalities. Motorcycle safety and education programs are presently paid for entirely by motorcyclists out of motorcycle registration and licensing fees. We believe it is not the piece of equipment worn on a riders head that will save a life but rather the knowledge that's in a rider's head and using that knowledge that makes for a safer rider.

Author Notes:

Dustin Armstrong contributes and publishes news editorial to  A buyers guide to all types of motorcycle helmets plus shields, googles, custom and wired radio helmets.

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