Introduced last week, SB 527 will save lives by proposing all motorcycle riders – and moped drivers under 19 – wear helmets
When Gov. Snyder made the sad and disappointing choice to sign the motorcycle helmet repeal in April 2012, he made a calculated political decision to sacrifice the public good in order to appease a small but vocal single-issue lobby group. It has been a terrible decision for Michigan.
Yes, it allows Michigan motorcyclists to “ride with the wind in their hair,” but it leaves their brains on the cement. Ever since Gov. Snyder signed the motorcycle helmet law repeal, our attorneys (who see what happens after the crashes occur) have been writing on the issue. We’ve shown over and over again how wearing motorcycle helmets saves lives. And it makes fiscal sense for taxpayers, who have to pick up the whopping medical bills to pay for catastrophic injuries when a motorcycle accident occurs and someone will now need care for the rest of his or her life. We’ve written over and over again on the pages of this legal blog that now is the time to reinstate legislation that requires bikers to wear helmets.
More than three years – and hundreds of helmet-less motorcycle accident deaths and serious injuries later – there’s now finally a senate bill that proposes Michigan law requires motorcycle helmets again.
Senate Bill 527, sponsored by Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), provides for a requirement for motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, as well moped riders who are 19 and under. The new helmet bill was introduced September 29, 2014 and referred to the Committee on Transportation.
Our current helmet law states that riders 21 and older may ride without a helmet if they’ve passed a safety course or have at least two years experience riding. They’re required to carry $20,000 in medical insurance (which is a complete joke, as people in serious motorcycle accidents will blow through that in a weekend of medical care at a hospital) The law previous to this required all riders to wear a helmet, and was the law of the land in Michigan since 1969.
Here are some eye-opening statistics from Bridge Magazine that spell out the only way this Senate Bill should go:
- Roughly one-fourth of motorcyclists in Michigan now ride without a helmet. But helmetless riders accounted for nearly one-half of motorcycle fatalities in 2013, 59 of 128 deaths (Michigan State Police).
- Reduced helmet use accounts for approximately 24 more deaths and 71 more serious injuries a year in Michigan (University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute).
- “Non-helmeted motorcyclists more frequently died on the scene, spent more time in the intensive care unit, required longer ventilator support, and had higher medical costs,” (Study by Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids).
Warren sponsored a similar bill in 2014 that died in the Transportation Committee. Let’s hope our legislators see the importance of this cause after so many lives have been lost.