Mich. AAA, Coalition Host Press Conference Urging Veto of Helmet Bill

June 22, 2006

AAA Michigan today urged Governor Jennifer Granholm to veto legislation that would repeal Michigan’s 37-year-old mandatory motorcycle helmet law, saying that the new law would recklessly endanger Michigan citizens.

During an 11 a.m. news conference conducted in the State Capitol Rotunda, AAA Michigan joined a broad coalition of safety and insurance stakeholders to denounce the legislation as bad public policy.

“Lawmakers have known for some time that a helmet repeal would result in at least 22 additional fatalities each year, as well as 742 additional injuries and $140 million in added economic costs to Michigan citizens,” said Jack Peet, manager of Community Safety Services for AAA Michigan. “This is based on the experience of other states where repeals have been enacted.”

The per capita rate of motorcycle fatalities in 2004 was 41 percent greater in states that do not require helmets for adult motorcyclists, according to a Scripps Howard News Service study of 2004 federal accident data.

Seven of the 10 states with the lowest death rates have mandatory, universal helmet laws.

NASCAR veteran Mark Martin, driver of the #6 AAA Ford Fusion in the Nextel Cup Series, also appealed to the governor to veto the repeal, stating in his letter that, “Michigan’s 37-year mandatory motorcycle helmet law has helped make roads safer.”

Sponsored by Sen. Alan L. Cropsey, R-DeWitt, SB 297 would remove the mandatory helmet requirement for all riders and passengers 21 years of age or older. In 2005, there were 3,605 motorcycle-involved crashes in Michigan in which 122 riders were killed and 2,721 injured.

Nationwide and in Michigan, motorcycle deaths continue to rise. In 2004, more than 4,000 people died on motorcycles in the United States — an increase of 8 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

A 2004 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has determined that 44 percent of motorcyclists involved in a crash are not legally licensed to operate a motorcycle. In Michigan, where a valid license is required for insurance coverage, that means the vast majority of this number are also uninsured.

AAA will continue to oppose legislation that leads to unnecessary deaths and injuries on our highways at a cost that would be mostly borne by the citizens of Michigan. A recent EPIC/MRA poll indicated some 70 percent of Michigan voters agree that motorcyclists should be required to wear helmets.

Source: AAA Michigan

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