Michigan Governor Vetos Helmet Repeal Legislation

June 23, 2006

Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed a bill on Friday, June 23rd that would have repealed the state of Michigan’s 37-year-old mandatory helmet law.

“Repealing the requirement that motorcyclists wear helmets would be costly to all Michigan families,” Governor Graholm wrote in her veto letter to state officials. By failing to require sufficient insurance protection, this bill would force higher medical and insurance costs on all Michigan citizens, the letter said.

The veto came a day after a coalition of safety and insurance groups held a press conference in the state capitol Rotunda calling for the governor to veto the legislation (SB 297).

The Michigan Association of Insurance Agents, along with AAA-Michigan, medical physicians, consumer safety advocates and law enforcement officials were united in their opposition to repealing the helmet law.

“We are pleased that the governor has rejected any attempt to weaken Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law. This was bad legislation and it was opposed by every responsible group, “said Gary Mitchell, spokesman for the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents. “We continue to believe that helmets save lives and reduce serious injuries.”

AAA Michigan today thanked Governor Jennifer Granholm for her veto of legislation that would repeal Michigan’s 37-year-old mandatory motorcycle helmet law.

In a written statement, AAA said that “without her veto, the new law would have recklessly endangered Michigan citizens. Studies have shown that at least 22 additional fatalities and 742 additional injuries would result annually if Michigan repealed its mandatory motorcycle helmet law.”

The veto was criticized by the American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE) of Michigan. The group had successfully lobbyied the state legislature to pass the bill, and some reports said that this attempt for a repeal was as close to a final approval ever in the 37- year-history of the Michigan law.

Insurance Journal contacted ABATE, but did not receive a response from the group. A written statement was not issued at the time of this writing.

If signed by the governor, the legislation would have let riders 21 and older decide whether to wear a helmet. To be able to ride without a helmet, motorcyclists would have needed to pass a safety class or have been licensed for two years. They also would have needed to carry an additional $10,000 in personal injury protection insurance coverage, according to the language of the bill.

Granholm said the extra insurance protection outlined in the legislation is “woefully inadequate” and said that helmet usage reduces fatalities by 37 percent and prevents traumatic brain injury by 67 percent.

Thirty states, including some in the Midwest, give adults the option to not wear a helmet.

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