crashes

Turtlemom4bacon / Flickr

New data shows people who drink and drive motorcycles in Michigan were much less likely to wear helmets after the state repealed its mandatory helmet law.

Carol Flannagan, Research Director of the Center for the Management of Information for Safe and Sustainable Transportation within the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. She presented her findings to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning this week.

“The story that I see in the data has to do with the combination of risky behaviors that are kind of all traveling together in the data or going together in some sense,” Flannagan said.

Particularly at risk are those motorcyclists who drink and drive. “Once they are in a crash their probability of dying is much higher,” she said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The number of motorcyclists who died in traffic accidents in Michigan last year rose 18-percent.

About a year ago Michigan became the thirty-first state to allow people to ride motorcycles without helmets.

But Michigan State Police warn one year isn't enough time to say whether the changes to the helmet law had anything to do with this year’s spike in motorcycle deaths.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

While doing some research for a story, I went back over some data issued by the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information last May. 

It might not be surprising that the number of traffic crashes is lowest during years of a down economy.  After all, there’s less commercial traffic and there are fewer people driving to work because so many are unemployed.