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HB 4823 May Increase Motorcycle Deaths by as Much as 31 Percent

    DEARBORN, Mich., June 6 A proposed bill in Lansing could
increase motorcycle fatalities in Michigan by at least 21 percent and as much
as 31 percent based on data collected from states that have repealed mandatory
helmet laws, according to AAA Michigan.

    House Bill 4823, sponsored by Rep. Gene DeRossett (R-Manchester), would
remove the mandatory helmet requirement for all riders and passengers 21 years
of age or older.

    "This bill just doesn't make sense," said Richard J. Miller, manager of
Community Safety Services for AAA Michigan.  "The evidence in support of
helmet use is overwhelming.  Head injury is the leading cause of death in
motorcycle crashes.  Riders who don't wear helmets and who experience a crash
are 40 percent more likely to sustain a fatal head injury."

    Miller added that motorcycle helmets decrease the severity of injury, the
likelihood of death and the overall cost of medical care.  According to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), following the repeal
of helmet use laws in Arkansas and Texas in 1997, helmet use decreased
substantially, while fatalities rose -- 21 percent in Arkansas and 31 percent
in Texas (during the first full year following repeal).

    "Motorcycle riders are much more at risk than persons driving or riding in
a passenger vehicle," said Miller.  "In fact, more than 80 percent of all
motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist."


    *  In 1999, there were 2,820 motorcycle-involved crashes in which 77
people were killed and 2,383 injured.
    *  The 1999 death rate for motorcyclists was 16.0 per 100 million vehicle
miles traveled (VMT), compared to the overall mileage death rate of 1.5 per
100 VMT.