AAA Michigan Urges Veto of Permit Bill That Allows Motorcycle Riders to Go Without Helmets
DEARBORN, Mich., June 4, 2008; AAA Michigan urged Governor Jennifer Granholm to veto legislation that would enable motorcyclists to ride without their helmets on Michigan roads. In their latest bid to rid riders of their helmets, special interest groups in Lansing have proposed a permit solution. For a $100 fee, motorcyclists who meet specific requirements can buy their way out of a helmet.
"Lawmakers have known for some time that this legislation would result in 30 additional motorcycle fatalities each year, along with 127 more incapacitating injuries and $129 million in added economic costs to Michigan citizens," said Jack Peet, manager of Community Safety Services for AAA Michigan. "This is based on the experience of other states where similar measures have been enacted."
"If the mandatory helmet requirement is repealed or waived through a fee, there will be a significant increase in severe head injuries and deaths," said Peet. "Studies show that in a crash, unhelmeted motorcyclists are 40 times more likely than helmeted cyclists to suffer a fatal head injury."
In addition to increased medical costs passed on to taxpayers, motorcycle deaths and injuries are on the rise after the repeal of mandatory helmet laws in Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that when Florida repealed its universal rider motorcycle helmet law in 2002, there were 40 percent more motorcyclists admitted to hospitals for treatment compared with previous years.
Another study found that fatalities grew by more than 50 percent in Kentucky and more than 100 percent in Louisiana after those states struck down mandatory helmet laws.
NHTSA estimates that motorcycle helmet use saved $19.5 billion in economic costs from 1984 through 2002. An additional $14.8 billion would have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets during the same period.