The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

AAA Michigan Says Repeal of Motorcycle Helmet Law Would Increase Deaths and Injuries

DEARBORN, Mich., May 30 -- Legislation just passed by the state House and sent to the Senate for approval would increase the number of motorcycle deaths and injuries in Michigan, said 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, but does not require motorcycle riders to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage.

"It is well known that motorcycle helmets decrease the severity of injury, the likelihood of death and the overall cost of medical care," said Richard J. Miller, manager of Community Safety Services for AAA Michigan. "Motorcycle riders are much more at risk than persons driving or riding in a passenger vehicle. In fact, more than 80 percent of all motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist."

The high rate of catastrophic injury is reflected in data from the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA). According to the MCCA, although fewer than 2 percent of all registered motor vehicles in Michigan are motorcycles, 6.2 percent of all reported claims are from motorcyclists.

Since motorcyclists are exempt from Personal Injury Protection coverage and often ride uninsured, said Miller, all Michigan drivers pay higher MCCA assessments and higher insurance premiums to cover these losses.

Miller also cited Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data, which shows that younger riders (25-34 years old) incur both the greatest number of motorcycle fatalities in Michigan and the highest level of non-compliance with the state's mandatory helmet law. In 2000, said Miller, 29 young riders were killed in Michigan -- more than any other age group -- and at least one- quarter of those killed were not wearing helmets.

This is despite the fact that Michigan's mandatory helmet law is long established and strictly enforced.

Nationwide, motorcycle fatality rates have been rising. The total number of fatalities is up 44 percent between 1997 (2,116 deaths) and 2001 (3,067 deaths). In addition, the fatality rate per 100,000 registered motorcycles is up -- from 55.3 in 1997 to 65.9 in 2000.


In 2000, there were 3,180 motorcycle-involved crashes (compared with 2,820 in 1999) in which 78 riders were killed and 2,541 injured. Average paid motorcycle claim is $377,830, up from $345,602 in 1997. In Michigan, the helmet law has saved an estimated 800 lives over the past 13 years. Sources: Michigan State Police Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA)