OUR VIEW: State should stay the course on helmet laws

By Daily News • Last Updated 10:19 am on Thursday, April 05, 2012

On Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk sits a bill that would repeal Michigan’s law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. We’re hoping that he will do the right thing and veto it.

While we know there are a handful of enthusiasts who prefer riding their motorcycles with the wind in their hair, we also know that statistics don’t lie and that head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

As it stands, all motorcyclists riding the roads of Michigan are required to wear a helmet. But both the House and Senate have passed SB291, which would give all motorcyclists 21 and older the option to ride without a helmet as long as they have had a motorcycle license for two years or passed a motorcycle safety course. On their motorcycle policies, they also would have to buy a $20,000 medical insurance rider, which we all know wouldn’t go far toward health care expenses — especially if long-term care is needed.
Opinions of proponents pushing the repeal range from a rider’s right to decide for themselves whether they want to wear a helmet to the argument that more tourists would visit our state if they weren’t bound to the current law.

But experience shows that the risk of death and critical injury — which often results in costly medical care — increases when helmets aren’t worn. Statistics also show that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing crash-related fatalities and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates a rider not wearing a helmet is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and 15 percent more likely to have a permanent head injury than a helmeted motorcyclist.

This is not the first attempt to change Michigan’s helmet law and it may not be the last. But we hope Gov. Snyder stays the course and casts his vote for safety by supporting our current laws. As one local motorcycle enthusiast put it, “You may not want to wear your helmet, but your family will be glad you did.”

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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