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Michigan Lawmakers Repeal Motorcycle Helmet Law; AAA Michigan Says Only a Veto Will Stop More Deaths

DEARBORN, Mich., June 7 -- State lawmakers today (June 7) repealed Michigan's 37-year-old mandatory motorcycle helmet law, a decision that will result in at least 22 additional fatalities each year, as well as 742 additional injuries and $140 million in added economic costs to Michigan citizens, according to a 2004 Michigan State Police study.

Sponsored by Sen. Alan L. Cropsey (R-DeWitt), SB 297 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. In 2005, there were 3,605 motorcycle- involved crashes in Michigan in which 122 riders were killed and 2,721 injured.

"We are disappointed and saddened that state lawmakers undertook this course of action," said Jack Peet, manager of Community Safety Services for AAA Michigan. "It makes absolutely no sense to make optional the only validated personal safety device available to a motorcycle rider."

Only a veto by Gov. Jennifer Granholm would prevent the helmet repeal from taking place.

Nationwide and in Michigan, motorcycle deaths continue to rise. In 2004, more than 4,000 people died on motorcycles in the United States -- an increase of 8 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The per capita rate of motorcycle fatalities in 2004 was 41 percent greater in states that do not require helmets for adult motorcyclists, according to a Scripps Howard News Service study of 2004 federal accident data. Seven of the 10 states with the lowest death rates have mandatory, universal helmet laws.

A 2004 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has determined that 44 percent of motorcyclists involved in a crash are not legally licensed to operate a motorcycle. In Michigan, where a valid license is required for insurance coverage, that means the vast majority of this number are also uninsured.

AAA will continue to oppose legislation that leads to unnecessary deaths and injuries on our highways at a cost that would be mostly borne by the citizens of Michigan. A 2005 AAA survey shows that nearly 90 percent of AAA Michigan members oppose a repeal of the state's mandatory motorcycle helmet law.