Michigan rescinds mandatory helmet law

In a move that will comes as good news to those who want the choice as to whether or not to wear a helmet, the state of Michigan recently passed legislation that would make helmets optional.

Recently, Senate Bill 291 passed with broad-based approval from members of the Michigan Congress reforming the current law from requiring motorcycle riders to wear a helmet to making it voluntary. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill on April 12*.

State senator Phil Pavlov said the change was necessary because the rule was behind the times and did not make good financial sense.

“Every year, millions of dollars leave our state because of Michigan’s outdated mandatory helmet law,” said Pavlov. “This bipartisan plan will keep our dollars here, attract even more tourists to Michigan and help our state in these tough economic times.”

Other safety standards have been heightened

There are some requirements that riders have to satisfy if they are going to operate their motorcycles without a helmet. This includes carrying at least $20,000 of medical insurance on top of the required motorcycle insurance, being at least 21 years of age and having a minimum of two years’ worth of driving experience. If motorcyclists are new riders, they can take a motorcycle driving safety course as an alternative.

Jim Rhoades, legislative director for Michigan’s American Bikers Aiming Toward Education, noted that better knowledge is the best antidote to diminishing motorcycle riders’ risks of being involved in a crash.

“We believe that the key to motorcycle safety, accident reduction and injury prevention lies in rider education, car driver awareness and license endorsement,” said Rhoades.

Vince Consiglio, president of ABATE of Michigan, went further, stating that while helmets can reduce someone’s risk for seriously injuring themselves, helmet laws haven’t done anything to actually reduce the prevalence of riders being involved in accidents. Nor has it led to a decrease in insurance rates.

“Motorcycle accidents are a very small percentage of accidents overall,” said Consiglio. “Data from other states has proven that states that remove mandatory helmet laws do not see an increase in insurance premiums, and states that institute helmet laws do not see a corresponding decrease in insurance rates. It’s never happened.”

*according to the Motorcycle Riders Foundation on April 13, 2012
via Peter Montanez

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