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The old Michigan motorcycle helmet law saved us money – and lives

New CDC study says universal helmet laws do more than save lives… there are big cost savings too

It comes as no surprise to our attorneys, as we help people injured in motorcycle crashes throughout Michigan, but a recent federal CDC study says that universal motorcycle helmet laws save money and save lives.

Universal helmet laws require all motorcyclists to wear helmets whenever they ride. Michigan used to have a universal motorcycle helmet law, until this past April, when Gov. Snyder signed a repeal of the motorcycle helmet law in this state. Now Michigan motorcyclists who are 21 and over and have certain certifications can ride with the wind in their hair. This is referred to as a partial helmet law (a law that only requires specific groups to wear helmets, usually younger riders).

Here is the Centers for Disease Control study: “Helmet Use Among Motorcyclists Who Died in Crashes & Economic Cost Saving Associated with State Motorcycle Helmet Laws, 2008-2010

According to the report:

  • Motorcyclists that died in motorcycle accidents in states with partial helmet laws were 5 times less likely to be wearing a helmet, compared to motorcyclists in states with universal helmet laws. This was during the time period of 2008 to 2010.
  • Fatally injured motorcyclists in states with no helmet law were more than six times as likely not to have been wearing a helmet.
  • Economic costs saved in states with a universal helmet law were, on average, $725 per registered motorcycle, nearly four times greater than in states without such a law ($198).
  • Although about $3 billion in economic costs were saved as a result of helmet use in the United States in 2010, another $1.4 billion could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.”

Rebecca Naumann, who is an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and lead author of the study, told Michigan Radio that Michigan’s old helmet law was a cost saver: “Per 100,000 registered motorcycles, Michigan was saving about $55 million at that time.”

This ranked Michigan 14th in the nation in terms of cost savings.

Naumann pointed to Florida as a warning of what can happen when universal helmet laws are repealed. In the three years after Florida’s repeal of its mandatory helmet law, there was an 81 percent increase in fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Tragically, this is already happening in Michigan. There have been more motorcycle accident deaths since the repeal, and not wearing helmets is a significant contributor to those deaths. Here’s a blog post we wrote on the subject: Michigan motorcycle accidents without helmets have higher injury and death rates.

If you’re curious what other states are doing, here’s what the study says: As of April 2012, 19 states and the District of Columbia had universal helmet laws, 28 states (including Michigan) had partial helmet laws, and three states had no helmet law.

– Steven Gursten is a lawyer who has been helping injured motorcycle accident victims for nearly 20 years. He has received the highest motorcycle injury settlement in the state, according to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly year-end verdicts and settlements reports.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by MikeLicht,

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our motorcycle accident lawyers.

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