April 18th 2012 by Daniel Buckfire
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation that will give many motorcyclists the option to ride without a helmet. According to a news report in ClickonDetroit.com, the new measure will allow riders 21 or older to ride a motorcycle without a helmet if they carry extra insurance and meet training or experience criteria. The Republican governor’s action has essentially ended a long drawn out effort to change the state’s helmet laws. Earlier legislations to repeal the motorcycle helmet law were vetoed by then Governor Jennifer Granholm.
Some riders believe that wearing or not wearing a helmet is up to the rider. To them, it is all about freedom. Gov. Snyder told the media that although he expects many riders to continue wearing helmets, those who choose not to wear one should have the latitude to make their own “informed judgments” provided they meet other legal requirements. However, critics of this legislation say that the change will lead to more motorcycle accident fatalities. Michigan is the 31st state to make motorcycle helmets optional.
Several studies have shown that helmets save motorcycle riders’ lives. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets reduce the risk of a head injury by 69 percent. In a motorcycle accident, a rider or passenger not wearing a helmet is 40 percent more likely to die from a head injury compared to someone wearing a helmet. CDC estimates that in the year 2008 alone, helmets saved more than 1,800 lives and 800 more lives could have been saved if all riders had worn helmets.
These are telling statistics. While we value and cherish our freedoms as Americans, it is important to remember that laws such as seatbelt laws and helmet laws are in place for our own safety. Not wearing a helmet puts motorcycle riders and their passengers at risk for serious injury or death.
As Michigan motorcycle accident lawyers who represent injured victims and their families, we hope those who choose to ride in Michigan will make the right decision by wearing a DOT-approved helmet. Remember, motorcycle accidents often occur because of another driver’s negligence or due to factors outside the rider’s control such as poor weather or dangerous roadway conditions. Helmets provide that much-needed extra layer of protection for motorcyclists.