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AAA Michigan urges legislators to keep mandatory helmet law

March 20, 2009 by Newswire  
Filed under Laws, Motorcycle

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AAA Michigan today urged state lawmakers to defeat legislation that would enable motorcyclists to ride without their helmets on Michigan roads. House Bill 4028, sponsored by State Representative Richard LeBlanc (D-Westland), would make helmet use optional, rather than mandatory, for those operating or riding a motorcycle on Michigan roads.

"It is well known that this legislation will result in 30 additional motorcycle fatalities each year, along with 127 more incapacitating injuries and $129 million in added economic costs to Michigan citizens," said Jack Peet, Traffic Safety manager for AAA. "This is based on the experience of other states where similar measures have been enacted.

"If the mandatory helmet requirement is repealed, there will be a significant increase in severe head injuries and deaths," said Peet. "Studies show that in a crash, un-helmeted motorcyclists are 40 times more likely than helmeted cyclists to suffer a fatal head injury."

In addition to increased medical costs passed on to taxpayers, motorcycle deaths and injuries are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2007, 5,154 motorcyclists were killed - an increase of 7 percent over the 4,837 motorcyclists killed in 2006. There were 103,000 motorcyclists injured during 2007. In Michigan, 120 motorcyclists were killed in 2007.

NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,784 motorcyclists' lives in 2007, and that 800 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash. In 2007, the number of fatalities for motorcycle riders was highest in the 40+ age group.

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