AAA Says ‘Yes’ Vote on Helmet Repeal will Cost Michigan $140 Million

May 28, 2004

A proposed state law that would allow motorcyclists to ride without helmets would also come with a hefty annual price tag: 22 fatalities, 132 incapacitating injuries, 610 other injuries and $140 million in economic costs to Michigan citizens, according to a study released yesterday (May 27) by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).

HB 4325, sponsored by Rep. Leon Drolet (R-Clinton Township), would
remove the mandatory helmet requirement for all riders and passengers 21 years of age or older, but does not require motorcycle riders to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage.

Members of the House Transportation Committee voted yesterday (May 27) to move the bill to the full House for consideration. The committee did not take testimony from traffic safety and public health organizations opposed to the bill.

“In every state that has enacted motorcycle helmet law repeals, helmet use has plummeted by an average of 42 percent,” said Richard Miller, manager of Community Safety Services for AAA Michigan. “A repeal in Michigan would have similar effects, with a 41-percent reduction in the number of lives saved over a six-year period.”

According to OHSP – which projected motorcycle crash outcomes for
Michigan based on data from states that had enacted repeals – the number of registered and unregistered motorcycles in Michigan is increasing, which means more riders on the road and even more injuries and deaths in the future.

“From AAA Michigan’s perspective, it makes absolutely no sense for our legislature to make optional the only significant piece of safety equipment now available to motorcycle riders,” added Miller.

In 2003, there were 3,261 motorcycle-involved crashes in Michigan
(compared with 3,030 in 2002) in which 80 riders were killed and 2,811

According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), motorcycle helmet use in Michigan is currently at 97 percent.

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