May is Motorcycle Safety Month and National Youth Traffic Safety Month, so this topic couldn’t be more fitting. It sounds counter intuitive to allow teens and even children to ride motorcycles and motorized vehicles, but it is actually legal. But being legal and safe are too different things.
As an attorney who has helped far too many people injured in motorcycle crashes, I would advise parents to hold off on giving their kids rides on motorcycles. The statistics - especially with younger riders and supersport, or “crotchrocket” motorcycles – of serious injury show that there is no substitute for experience and the riding judgment that comes with it.
As part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, I’d like to share another guest post from Dan Petterson, president of SMARTER motorcycle safety group, which stands for Skilled Motorcyclist Association –Responsible, Trained and Educated Riders.
There have been many recent motorcycle accident deaths due to the helmet repeal, and fatal crashes due to unsafe motorcycle riding, like the recent one I read about in the news in Madison Heights, Michigan, where a motorcyclist was seen doing wheelies and going 100 miles on the highway before he crashed.
But sharing the road safely with motorcyclists doesn’t do much if the motorcyclists are not wearing life-saving helmets to protect them in case of a crash. In Michigan, bikers are actually allowed to put their lives in jeopardy and ride helmetless because of the motorcycle helmet law repeal that was signed by Gov. Snyder last year.
Imagine you are riding a motorcycle safely and responsibly. Suddenly a car swerves into your lane and hits you. You suffer terrible, life-altering injuries. You will never be able to return to work, and you will now require lifetime medical care.
But your medical care will now be arbitrarily capped at $250,000, if Gov. Rick Snyder has his way with proposed No Fault reform bill HB 4612.
According to a new report published recently on MLive, if Michigan had not repealed its mandatory motorcycle helmet law in 2012, 26 people who were killed in motorcycle accidents would still be alive today. That is according to statistical estimates from a University of Michigan researcher.
The U of M report stated that those 26 fewer deaths would represent an overall 21 percent reduction of fatalities from 2011.
Using the same analysis, there would have been 49 fewer serious injuries, or an 8 percent reduction, said Carol Flannagan, a researcher at U of M’s Transportation Research Institute.
I was recently interviewed by a Florida newspaper Ocala.com, probably being that it’s always motorcycle riding season in Florida. I am one of a small handful of lawyers in the United States who has litigated and settled a large number of serious injury and death motorcycle accident cases, I’ve spoken at national legal seminars on the subject of how motorcycle cases are very different from other areas of personal injury law, and I’m the president of the Motor Vehicle Accident Trial Lawyers Association.
A ‘super majority’ of Michigan residents oppose the April 2012 repeal of Michigan’s nearly 40-year-old, lifesaving motorcycle helmet law. They also believe that Michigan motorcyclists should not have the choice of whether to wear a helmet, according a recent MLive survey which was conducted by Marketing Resource Group in Lansing.
In “MLive survey: Poll shows a near ‘super majority’ oppose new law lifting motorcycle helmet mandate,” MLive writer John Barnes explains:
“Nearly two-thirds of adults surveyed oppose the state’s new helmet-choice law for motorcyclists …”
The right to ride a motorcycle without a helmet is now the law of the land in Michigan, but that freedom will do precious little to protect Michigan motorcyclists in the event of a crash, according a recent MLive article.
In “Motorcycle safety clasess face new questions and challenges with helmets now an option” by MLive writer Gus Burns, two motorcycle accident victims recall how their use of motorcycle helmets were the likely reason they lived to tell about their harrowing brushes with serious injury or even death.
But as a lawyer who helps people injured in motorcycle accidents, I can tell you that if you are wearing one of these helmets and are hurt in a crash on your motorcycle, the defense lawyer and insurance company will be raising this helmet as part of your own “comparative fault” – even if you are completely innocent and were hurt by someone else. The lawyer will say your injuries would not have been as severe if you were wearing a safer, DOT approved helmet.
This month, MLive has been covering the effects of the Michigan motorcycle helmet law repeal.
Here are two interesting stories about how predictions of the motorcycle helmet repeal have turned out so far, and some complicated twists of the law.