Michigan Poised to Ratify Helmet Freedom Of Choice Bill

Lansing: Michigan Legislators in the State House voted overwhelmingly to allow motorcyclist 21 and over to decide for themselves if they want to wear a helmet or not.  The only requirements are that they have 2 years experience or have completed an approved motorcycle safety course and carry $20,000 in medical insurance.

State Senators receive the bill to work through the differences from a version they previously approved this past June.  After that, the legislation lands on Michigan's Governor  Rick Snyder's desk.  Snyder says he'll sign the bill, but only if certain insurance reforms are in place.

"The governor has been clear and consistent that for him to look at any helmet law repeal it has to take place in context of broader auto insurance reform," Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said.

For Michigan's Insurance lobby, the issue is simply about money.  Typically the Insurance industry is a staunch opponent of freedom of choice, and frames its arguments against legislation like this by scaring the public with the specter of the financial bogey man for the state's taxpayers.  "The consequences of a person's decision not to wear a helmet is borne by all of society through higher insurance premiums, lost productivity and increased health care costs," said Lori Conarton, spokeswoman for the Insurance Institute of Michigan."

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm nixed the legislation twice with a stroke of her pen, siding with the powerful Insurance and Health Care lobby.  Governor Snyder, however, hasn't shot down the idea of signing the bill if it reached his desk.

Supporters of the bill include ABATE, State Tourism officials and lawmakers who helped push the legislation through say that motorcyclist avoid Michigan because of the helmet law.  Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, (a former emergency medical tech) spoke in favor of the bill and agreed that head injuries are traumatic, but the bill give people the choice and many will wear a helmet, but the requirement is a turn off to many motorcycle tourists.  Pettalia told the Detroit News, ""We're surrounded by helmetless states. So if somebody wants to travel to the Great Lakes, they will oftentimes travel into the Wisconsin area where the Dells are and avoid coming into Michigan."

Tell us what you think in the polls below.

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  1. Statistics and numbers can be manipulated to support almost any arguement. The real issues here are responsibility, freedom, and fear. Each capable adult should be responsible for themselves. That includes risk taking activities. I do not ask you or anyone else to be responsible for me, just be responsible for yourself and any children you have. So you think you have the right to force helmet use on me because I suggest they could be more harmful? Or are you saying that since they may be more dangerous I should be forced to wear more dangerous equipment? First off, I used the numbers I sited appropriately and within reason and extrapolated based off the number as they were presented. So no, my calculations aren't flawed. 752 families lost someone. That is a sad loss, but one that the individual was responsible for. Not the NHTSA, MSF, ABATE, you, or me. That loss may have been prevented by wearing a helmet. And all of the other traffic fatalities would have been prevented from just staying at home. I am not afraid to ride, with or without a helmet. I happily take that risk. Please don't fear for me, and don't dare use your fear to force my action.

    "Without taking huge risks"? Look at the data, all of it. 18-30 year old sport bike riders are drastically more likely to be in a wreck as well as die than an old fart on a cruiser. They are also more likely to be wearing a helmet. Should we just require it for young sport bike riders? the 18-25 age group is more likely to die in an auto accident than an old fart on a cruiser. What about that? Your argument it weak and based on opinion not data. Your opinion is rooted in fear and a willingness for force your beliefs on others.

    You are still missing the point. But people like you seldom get it. Golf Foxtrot Uniform. Get it?

  2. Flat Black,

    Your calculations are flawed. When discussing crash data relevant to helmets you don’t compare accidents to the entire pool of riders, you look at the accident values. Looking at the total pool of riders as you did only proves that the majority of us didn’t crash that year. 104,000 accidents, 4,810 fatalities is a 4.6% fatality rate, not bad, but still sad to see that loss of life. “4,810 deaths of which 752 could have been prevented by wearing a DOT approved helmet” That by itself is 15.6% of all fatalities! Now factor the prevented deaths buy wearing a helmet 1,658. Add that to the total fatality amount (because they would have been dead). 6,468 dead or would have been dead. So let’s say the 752 were wearing helmets, add that to 1,658 = 2,410. So out of 6,468 accidents were there was a potential fatality 2,410 would survive because they were wearing a helmet. That is 37%! With all that said, that year there was 752 funerals that were completely unnecessary and pointless. There are 752 mourning families that should still have their loved ones with them. Even suggesting that it is more dangerous to wear a helmet is the reason we need to have laws forcing you to wear one. You have the freedom to buy any bike you like, the freedom to ride it wherever you want. Gear however is not about freedom it is about reasonable requirements so you can get to the places you choose on the bike you want without taking huge risks to your life. You can try comparing this issue with others if you like. They play no bearing on my perspective. I look at each issue as its own entity with its own set of variables.

  3. Check the numbers yourself if you like. ( http://trafficsafety.org/safety/sharing/motorcycl(http://trafficsafety.org/safety/sharing/motorcycle/motor-facts/motor-injuries-fatalities)_But what about those 752 people who could have lived if they had been wearing helmets? Good question. The CDC says in 2006 616,067 Americans died from heart disease. Just for reference, 34,580 from suicide. _Bottom line? Statistics give us a glimpse of numbers, not complete fact. One of the most valid statistics is that 100% of us die, not everyone really lives. Let stop living others' lives an start living our own.

  4. Do you consider eating unhealthy and not exercising paramount to suicide? Heart disease kills millions more motorcycle riders than injuries from accidents. But let's look at the numbers:_DOT says in 2007 there were approx. 254.4 Million registered motor vehicles in the U.S. with approx. 3% or 7.6 million being motorcycles. DOT says in 2006 there were approx. 104,000 motorcycles involved in accidents, 4,810 deaths of which 752 could have been prevented by wearing a DOT approved helmet and says 1,658 deaths were prevented by wearing a DOT approved helmet. 752 deaths out of 7.6 million registered motorcycles (not riders) is about .01%. It is fair to say we are comparing deaths preventable to registrations, so let's look at deaths preventable to accidents. That would be 752 preventable out of 104,000 accidents or .7%. Hmm… let's try one more. Same source says approx. 58% of riders wear helmets and 59% of riders who died in accidents were wearing helmets. That means helmeted riders are more likely to get in an accident and more likely to die wearing a helmet than not.

  5. Madmak75,_I agree that helmet standards should be improved. When I choose to, or am compelled to, wear a helmet I prefer full faces but would like more lateral visibility, but DOT specifications for full face helmets won't allow for that. It is arbitrary BS not research. I also choose to wear gloves, sometimes armored ones. However the DOT has a track record of not researching before requiring and I don't want them to get the idea that they can enforce what safety gear works for me. I have had accidents with and without helmets and know many others that have and it is most certainly not paramount to suicide.

  6. I think the AMA should let guys race without helmets. That way they can be "free". Oh, wait that would be stupid…….

  7. Medic, It is not a stupidity issue. It is a choice issue. I can understand you not wanting to pay others' bills, I don't either, but limiting all non-helmeted riders to "stupid" is a poor arguement. As is the arguement that helmets reduce overall injury or death. Yes, They significantly reduce the chance of cranial damage, but significantly increase the risk of cervical and spinal cord damage. The benefits decrease as the speed of the subject increases to a terminal point around 65mph. If that information is correct, then you are actually more likely to pay, and pay more, for a patient who wears a helmet than not, for more reasons that "the guy without the helmet died." It is a complex issue from a safety and finanical point of view and we don't have those answers yet. If you look at if as freedom of choice. We have the choice to wear a helmet or not and you have the choice of not being insured by companies thay pay for riders injured without helmets. When I make a choice about helmets, I don't care what you choose about insurance. So when you make a choice about insurance, why should I have to alter my helmet choice or requirements?

  8. 20,000.00 in insurance is not enough..lets start with 500,000.00 because I dont want to be paying for your brain dead self because you chose to be stupid..also you need to sign a DNR ( DO NOT RESUSCITATE ) and be an ORGAN DONOR..

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