motorcycle deaths spike after law makes helmets optional

Motorcycle Deaths Spike Since Helmets Became Optional For Michigan Adults

With the legislation in Michigan allowing adults above 21 to ride motorcycles without helmets, the number of fatalities has increased by 34%.

As per the research from Michigan State Police, motorcycle crashes have decreased from 3600 in 2012 to 3158 in 2022. However, the number of motorcyclist fatalities has risen from 129 to 173.  Read on to delve into what the Michigan State Police says, the cases of fatalities, the viewpoints of experts, and more. In case you wish to gain insight into the legal aspects of the issue, you may seek the professional guidance of a San Francisco motorcycle accident lawyer.

Lt. Mike Shaw, a spokesperson from Michigan State Police, says,” Naturally, the more safety equipment you could wear, the better off you are.” Shaw adds, “If you’re involved in a motorcycle crash, and you’re not wearing a helmet, you’re more likely to get hurt in a fatal crash because you’re getting hit by a larger object.”

Statistics indicate that out of the 173 fatalities, nearly 91 were those not wearing a helmet last year. Likewise, the incidents of deaths due to car crashes have also shown an increase of 19%.

It’s no surprise that the fatalities increased significantly after the law was repealed. In 2012, before the law changed, the research indicated that those states like Texas and Arkansas that didn’t mandate the use of helmets witnessed higher motorcycle deaths. In recent years, after the law changed in Michigan, the state saw more deaths.

Studies suggest that in Michigan, motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets have to pay at least $20,000 in medical benefits coverage for themselves and their passengers.

Shaw says, “Cars don’t pay attention often, especially when they’re making left turns. Some of it is because motorcyclists may not be wearing reflective clothing making it harder for them to see.”

Due to the repealing of the law in Michigan, the State Police officials can no longer charge tickets to motorcyclists for not wearing helmets. However, they still emphasize wearing of protective equipment and gear so that the motorcyclists don’t suffer from serious injuries.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a helmet reduces the risk of injury by around 69%.

Democrats controlling the legislature of Michigan never indicated that they would like to change the law.  Rep. Nate Shannon, D-Sterling Heights, in a written statement, “The mandatory motorcycle helmet law was repealed for people over 21 years or older in 2012 under very different leadership.”

Shannon adds,” It is important that Michiganders are continually reminded and informed of the serious risks of riding without a helmet. As chair of the Transportation, Mobility, and Infrastructure Committee, I urge all riders to wear their helmets to decrease their risk of severe injury or even death.”

Vince Consiglio, President of American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE), states that Michigan legislation gives a new level of freedom to motorcyclists.

Consiglio says,” Those who ride should decide. “If a rider feels he should wear a helmet, then he should wear a helmet. If he wants to wear an armored suit, get an armored suit.”

As per the new mandate, the riders must visit the Secretary of State, attend a safety class, pass a test, and get endorsed to become eligible for an additional permit that gets tagged to their licenses and lets them ride.

Emphasizing the training of riders, Consiglio said,” What makes a difference is the rider skill and the riders’ training and that’s what we support. If they take a motorcycle safety class, all riders whether or not they believe in freedom of choice, have to wear a helmet, boots, gloves, long-sleeve protection, and long pants. So, for a safety training class, we support that, but as far as on the street, that’s up to the rider once they have a proper license.”

At present, there are only 18 states where wearing a helmet is mandatory for all motorcyclists. While riders under 17 must wear helmets in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio, Illinois doesn’t have any helmet laws in place.

Dr. Jim Getzinger, a physician at Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, mentions that he has seen patients suffering from serious head injuries by not wearing a helmet.

Getzinger mentions, “Traumatic brain injuries have wide variants of what can happen because of the severity of it.  I know it’s frustrating in some ways, but the risk of what I’ve seen over my career far outweighs the inconvenience.”


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