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Michigan motorcycle accidents without helmets have higher injury and death rates

May 22, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Just one month following the Michigan helmet law repeal, MLive analysis shows riders without helmets are at a higher risk of personal injury and death

During Motorcycle Safety Awareness month in May, the most simple safety tip I can give, as a lawyer helping people injured in motorcycle accidents for nearly 20 years, is still to wear your helmet.

This is more important now than ever, since the law allowing Michigan motorcyclists to ride without helmets was passed and signed on April 12, 2012. Just one month later, there has been a jump in deaths and injuries involving helmetless riders.

MLive recently published a revealing analysis on Michigan motorcycle death and injury rates since the helmet law repeal: Michigan motorcyclists mostly keeping helmets on, but helmetless crashes had higher injury rate, MLive analysis shows.

Here are some insightful highlights from the MLive analysis:

  • There were 107 motorcycle accidents recorded in the month after Michigan’s mandatory helmet law was repealed (April 12-May 11, 2012).
  • 12 of the 100 motorcycle accidents involved helmetless riders. But those helmetless riders were injured and killed at a greater rate than the motorcyclists wearing helmets.
  • There were 4 fatal motorcycle accidents; three victims did not wear helmets, and one did have a helmet.
  • Injuries were recorded in all motorcycle accidents involving helmetless riders, ranging from slight to incapacitating.
  • Injuries were recorded in 71 percent of the non-fatal crashes involving riders who were wearing helmets (consistent with statistics from 2010-11).

It’s been only one month. The numbers show that motorcycle operators not wearing helmets are more likely to be killed or injured.

I’m sad to say this is probably just the start. There will be many more tragic, preventable injuries and deaths to come.

I was interviewed by the Detroit Free Press the day the helmet law was repealed. My quote appeared on the front page of the newspaper the next day. I warned that the helmet law repeal was terrible. I said more people would die without helmets, more people would be seriously injured, and the cost to the taxpayers would be higher as seriously injured people are transferred onto Medicaid to pay for lifetime catastrophic medical care. I was surprised Governor Snyder caved to the motorcycle lobby, for there is no rational reason to repeal the helmet law. Just one month later, I am very sad to say, I appear to be correct.

Steven M. Gursten is a lawyer who has been helping riders injured in motorcycle accidents for nearly 20 years. Steve has received the highest motorcycle injury settlement in the state, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Related information to protect yourself:

How many motorcyclists will die if we have a helmet law repeal, and who will pay?

What motorcycle insurance is required now that Michigan passed the helmet law repeal?

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 to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan motorcycle accident lawyers.

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4 Replies to “Michigan motorcycle accidents without helmets have higher injury and death rates”

  1. I wear a helmet, lived through accident in May of 09′. If I could be sure all car drivers pay attention to driving first and not the other BS they think is more important. I would not wear a helmet.
    Yes people die who ride a bike. They also die from other accidents, if we have 4 deaths so far, and avg is around 900 last two years. Tell me how your numbers add.
    Injuries consistent with 2010-2011 statistics
    Pay attention when you drive.

  2. Paul, thank you. I personally hope I am wrong and you are right about the numbers so far being consistent with past statistics. This is definitely an area where I am the very first to say I hope I am wrong. However, the Michigan Brain Injury Association is putting together the numbers and based upon early numbers from the MBIA, there has already been a rise. I will link to this report when it is finished.

    As an aside, the past statistics you refer to had already spiked in terms of both the number of motorcycle accidents and the number of deaths in last few years, so it is very sad we have to compare it to these already elevated numbers. But more information will be coming soon to provide a better answer to your question.

  3. Even with the change I still wear a helmet. It’s heavy and creates strain on my neck from being buffeted around but I’ll put up with it as long as there are people driving cars who don’t see us. I guess that means forever. In my younger days I couldn’t wait for the law to be changed so I could ride free but my views have changed primarily because driving anything at any time is a risk. People aren’t seeing us but they don’t see cars either because they are using their hand-held computers while driving. I guess voice controlled machines would be better but I’m not willing to risk my brain to find out. I’ve become attached to my brain and want to keep it all together in the same place as it has always been.

  4. Hi Kevin,
    Thanks for your feedback. Great comment. Our lawyers always say that many motorcycle accidents are caused by drivers who do not see the motorcyclists. Drive safe and way to wear that helmet!

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