In April 2012, five of the seven members of the Transportation Committee in the Michigan legislature voted to modify Michigan’s universal helmet law. Prior to this vote, every motorcyclist in the state was required to wear a helmet. Helmets continue to be mandatory for all Michigan drivers under the age of 20, but older drivers now have a choice.
If you have had a motorcycle endorsement for more than two years, or have passed an approved motorcycle safety course, you may now choose whether or not to wear your helmet as long as you carry at least $20,000.00 in personal liability insurance. While some motorcyclists see this change as a victory for personal freedom, others believe that the costs of such a change far outweigh the benefits.
According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, helmet use dropped from 98% to 74% following the changes to the law. As a result, 2013, the year following the change, saw the highest fatality rate in five years. The study indicates that motorcyclists are 2.8 times more likely to die in a crash, and 1.4 times more likely to be incapacitated without a helmet. Numbers from the Michigan State Police echo the survey’s findings, noting that three-fourths of the riding community chooses to ride without a helmet; however, this group accounted for roughly one-half of motorcycle fatalities. Riders without helmets are more likely to die at the crash site, and ultimately spend much more time in the intensive care unit if they make it to the hospital. Despite the insurance requirement, these more extensive injuries and extended hospital stays lead to higher medical bills for the individual and greater costs to taxpayers for the injured who cannot cover medical expenses not picked up by insurance. Motorcycle crashes can be devastating. For those who survive, the months (and sometimes years) of rehabilitation that follow are painful and difficult. The financial damage to families from loss of income and increased medical costs take a heavy toll. If you or someone you love has been involved in a motorcycle crash, a conversation with an attorney can help you understand what options for financial relief may be available to you. At Collis and Griffor, we have the expertise you need and experience you can trust. Contact us to schedule your consultation today.