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Repeal of MI’s motorcycle helmet law is proving deadly

September 26, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Joint study by IIHS/UM shows fatality rate for riders without helmets is twice rate for helmeted motorcyclists since 2012 repeal

Motorcycle helmet repeal

Unfortunately, my prediction has proved correct. I told the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press when the helmet law repeal was signed into law that it was a horrible idea.

Most people agreed with me. Not all of them. There were still the folks at ABATE and the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association with their “unique” expertise and insight into motorcycle safety – that still said it was a swell idea.

But the evidence collected to date on motorcycle accident injuries shows just how wrong many Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Snyder were in eliminating the requirement that all Michigan motorcyclists must wear helmets.  It should be noted that the lawmakers who voted in favor of repeal did so mostly because of fear of single-issue voters, such as those from ABATE. These voters feel strangely that motorcycle owners should be free to not wear helmets, but believe it’s okay to ask everyone else to pay for their lifetime medical bills when a catastrophic brain injury or spinal injury occurs.

Make no mistake, these catastrophic injuries to motorcycle owners and operators without helmets are occurring.

Given the results of a recent joint study, “The Impact of Michigan’s Partial Repeal of the Universal Motorcycle Helmet Law on Helmet Use, Fatalities, and Head Injuries,” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan, I don’t think it’d be an overstatement to say that the helmet-law repeal has proved to be an epic, deadly “fail”:

  • “[H]elmet non-use doubled the odds of a fatality and tripled the odds of a head injury [“among crash-involved motorcyclists”]. Those sustaining head injuries experienced higher rates of costly treatment services.”
  • “Michigan’s helmet law repeal resulted in … a 14% increase in head injury [“among crash-involved motorcyclists”].”
  • “[W]e found no evidence for an increase in out-of-state riders. This suggests that Michigan’s UHL [“universal motorcycle helmet law”] repeal did not increase tourism, a key motivation cited by advocates of the repeal.”

I’ve said it before and, I think, now’s a good time to say it again.

Gov. Snyder, are you finally ready to admit repealing Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law was a deadly mistake?

Fatality rate for unhelmeted motorcyclists nearly double that for helmeted riders

The joint IIHS/UM study reported the following about the “effects of repeal on fatalities”:

“[F]ollowing the UHL repeal …,” the “fatality rate among non-helmeted crash-involved riders … was notably 1.9 times higher than among helmeted riders …”

Unhelmeted motorcycle riders, head injuries and medical treatment

Here’s what the joint IIHS/UM study reported about the “effects of the repeal on head injuries”:

“[T]he percentage of hospitalized patients with head injuries increased 14% … following the repeal [of Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law]. … [T]he need for surgical intervention increased following the repeal. …. [Crash-involved-motorcyclist-patients] with head injuries were … less likely wearing a helmet … Multivariate modeling … found that … helmet non-use significantly increased the odds of a head injury. Further, head-injured patients were more likely than non-head-injured patients to require intensive hospital services, including intubation/ventilator support …, neurosurgical intervention …, and ICU admission … Head-injured patients also had a longer ICU LOS [length of stay].”

More evidence of the deadly effects of motorcycle helmet repeal

Like the joint IIHS/UM study, previous reports show the repeal of Michigan’s life-saving motorcycle helmet law to be the dangerous and deadly folly that it is:

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