helmet law

Politics & Government
2:55 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

'Reinstate mandatory motorcycle helmet law' say medical and insurance groups

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Members of Michigan's insurance and medical industries as well as some rider groups are calling on lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder to reinstate the state's mandatory motorcycle helmet law.

The group met at the Capitol Wednesday. They say modifying the law to allow people over the age of 21 to ride helmetless is costing the state lives.

A recent study by a University of Michigan researcher says 26 fewer people would have died last year if all riders wore helmets.

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Politics & Government
8:01 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Commentary: Dying without helmets

Lessenberry commentary for 4/1/13

From the time he began running for office, Governor Rick Snyder has said that he was in favor of common sense solutions to improve life in our state -- and that he intended to use “relentless positive action” to make them happen.

He hasn’t been afraid to push for drastic changes. He got the legislature to change the business tax and enact a new tax on pensions. He signed right to work into law last December, and got lawmakers to approve a new Rapid Transit Authority.

Some people approve of some or all of this; others are bitterly opposed. But the fact is that we don’t know exactly what effect any of these moves will have. It is too soon to tell.

But the governor signed another bill into law last year, and we do now have solid evidence about its effects.  It has turned out to be a disaster that has cost human lives and suffering.

The governor’s decision is also costing money. In fact, the law he signed is going to cost us all, if not in blood, in cold, hard cash, added to the medical bills of everyone with health insurance.

We are talking about the bill repealing the motorcycle helmet law last April. The early numbers are in, and there were 20 more motorcycle fatalities last year than the year before, and not wearing helmets was clearly the reason.

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Transportation
10:04 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Motorcyclists who drank and drove in 2012 more likely to ride helmetless, die in crashes

Motorcycle riders traveling without helmets.
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New data shows people who drink and drive motorcycles in Michigan were much less likely to wear helmets after the state repealed its mandatory helmet law.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.

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Law
3:44 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Blame the weather? No helmet law? Cause of spike in motorcyclist deaths uncertain

Number of motorcyclist fatalities in Michigan since 2008.
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.

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Politics & Government
6:44 am
Thu October 4, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Some data shows motorcycle helmet repeal has not increased deaths

"The group that led the charge to repeal Michigan’s motorcycle helmet requirement says the state has not suffered a rash of biker deaths in the past six months. That’s how long it’s been since the law was changed. American Bikers Aiming Toward Education points to state data between January and the end of August. But state officials say that’s not the whole story. They say early data also show a 14-percent jump in disabling injuries. The state Office of Highway Safety Planning says the data are preliminary and it’s too early to reach real conclusions on the effects of the changes in the law," Jake Neher reports.

Detroit Tiger first player to win Triple Crown in 45 years

"Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera became the first player in 45 years to win baseball's Triple Crown last night, joining an elite list that includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig. He's the 10th Triple Crown winner in baseball history. In Major League Baseball, a player earns the Triple Crown when he leads a league in three categories---  batting average, home runs, and runs batted in," the AP reports.

EPA tells Enbridge more clean up is needed on Kalamazoo River

"Enbridge Energy has more clean-up work to do along the Kalamazoo River. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the oil company to tackle some new areas of pollution in the river. Enbridge has already done a lot of clean up work after one of  their pipelines ruptured and spilled massive amounts of oil into the Kalamazoo River near Marshall in July, 2010.  But the EPA says oil is coming to the surface is some new areas," Tracy Samilton reports.

It's Just Politics
4:08 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Beneath the helmet: Why did Governor Snyder sign the helmet law repeal?

On this week's edition of, "It's Just Politics," we discuss the politics behind the helmet law repeal
Matthileo Flickr

Michigan is the 31st state to allow motorcyclists to ride without helmets. Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill to lift the requirement on riders 21 years and older last night. But signing the repeal was not necessarily something the Governor wanted to to.

"This is one of those issues that the Governor says is, 'not on my agenda,' which is Snyder short-hand for, 'I don't want to deal with this,'" explains Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics.

Why'd he do it?

So, the Governor's signing of the repeal raises the question: if it wasn't on his agenda, why did he sign it?

"I talked to [the Governor's] office," Pluta explains, "and his thinking about this evolved. He said at first that it wasn't on his agenda and then, if he was going to do it, he wanted it to be in the context of a overhaul of the state's auto-insurance laws - there has been no overhaul - but, the Governor still signed it. His office says that this [signing] recognizes that he has a partnership with the Republican Legislature, and that this is something, clearly, a majority of the House and Senate wanted."

Did the Governor blink?

This, however, raises another question: did the Governor blink? Meaning, do Republican lawmakers now know, with the signing of this bill, that just because the Governor says an issue is "not on his agenda" that he will, eventually, support it if it's sent to his desk.

For example, there's been a lot of inside-political talk about whether Governor Snyder would, if the state House and Senate passed such a measure, sign right-to-work legislation.

Governor Snyder’s spokeswoman has said that a fierce debate over "right-to-work" and other labor issues won’t help Michigan rebuild its economy. The governor has said he hopes the Legislature will put off a measure that would outlaw compulsory union membership or dues to hold a job.

But there are Republicans, such as Representative Mike Shirkey, who disagree with the Governor and believe that now is the time to introduce right-to-work legislation. One has to wonder: will Governor Snyder's signing of the helmet-law repeal embolden certain Republican lawmakers to introduce legislation that they know Governor Snyder doesn't support?

A Balancing Act

"It speaks to the balancing act that [Governor Snyder] is engaged in," Pluta notes. "On the one hand, he's trying to get the Legislature to buy into his priorities - priorities that Conservatives and Tea Partiers in the Legislature in particular are not enthusiastic about. And, he gets to say, 'maybe it wasn't on my agenda but I respected your priorities - now, you can respect mine.' Or, is it the other way around? Does this fuel this idea that the Legislature can send something to the Governor that's not on his agenda and he's more likely than not to simply accept it," Pluta says.

It's Just Politics

"It's a motorcycle story," Pluta explains, "that is the next chapter in the saga of how the Governor relates to a Legislature that is not always on the same page as him."

Politics
9:23 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Gov. Snyder repeals Michigan's mandatory motorcycle helmet law

Michigan Municipal League Flickr

Michigan is the 31st state to allow motorcyclists to ride without helmets. Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill to lift the requirement on riders 21 years and older last night.

The new law allows motorcyclists 21 years and older to choose whether to wear a helmet. They must carry an additional $20,000 in insurance for "first-party medical benefits," and have passed a motorcycle safety course or have had their motorcycle endorsement for at least two years.

Motorcycle passengers must also be 21 years or older and carry the additional insurance.

You can read the law here.

Gov. Snyder issued this statement after signing the bill:

“While many motorcyclists will continue to wear helmets, those who choose not to deserve the latitude to make their own informed judgments as long as they meet the requirements of this new law,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “There is no substitute for proper training, education and awareness when it comes to operating any motor vehicle. We must continue working together to keep our roads safe by making sure that everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car or on a motorcycle has the proper skills. Traffic safety is a responsibility shared by all motorists.”

Update 11:57 a.m.

A group supporting Michigan's new helmet law, American Bikers Aiming Toward Education, or ABATE, issued a statement in support of the change in Michigan. Vince Consiglio, President of ABATE said:

“On behalf of all ABATE’s members statewide and motorcyclists around the country who can now travel into Michigan and enjoy this great state with or without a helmet, I want to extend our gratitude to all of the legislative officials and Governor Rick Snyder who courageously supported freedom in the face of an onslaught of baseless and emotional arguments perpetuated by our opponents,” Consiglio added.

*Share your thoughts with us. What do you think about the motorcycle helmet law?

Politics
5:43 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Motorcycle helmet repeal puts spotlight on Gov. Snyder

Advocates of the helmet law repeal say it's about individual freedom, but it comes with costs.
Varin Tsai Flickr

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is facing a big decision.

It's one of the more sharply political decisions he's faced since he became Governor.

Does he follow his own party, the Republican-led legislature, and sign off on their motorcycle helmet repeal bill?

Or does he go against them with a veto?

For a Governor that fancies himself a "numbers guy," he's got to know the numbers are stacked against him.

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Politics
5:33 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Political Roundup: Republican agenda moving forward?

User: mattileo / flickr

Every Thursday we speak with political analysts Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas to get a better understanding of what's happening in state politics.

Last week we focused on Detroit's financial situation. This week it's all about what's going on in Lansing.

The repeal of the helmet law is on Gov. Snyder’s desk. Republican lawmakers recently created a measure that allowed Oakland County to redraw district lines, it was challenged in court, but the Republican Majority Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Republican lawmakers.

So, it this politics as usual? Susan says "It's certainly has had a political tinge to it that I think perhaps we might have expected from a Republican-led legislature." Demas adds, "There hasn't been a lot of day light between Gov. Snyder and the legislature. One exception is on domestic partner benefits for universities, but that's one of the rare few."

Sikkema agrees, "The governor has pretty much stuck with his Republican colleagues and hasn't had much controversy."

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Commentary
10:45 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Commentary: Michigan helmet law repeal, bad idea?

Like everybody else, I am a great believer in freedom. I want the freedom to read, write, and say whatever I want.

I want to freedom to marry or live with or hang out with whomever I choose, and I want everyone else to have these freedoms too. However, there are some things we shouldn’t be free to do. I don’t have the right to cut down a tree in a state park.

Nor do I have the right to build a factory on my street . Years ago, the famous Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted that “the right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.“

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Politics
5:22 pm
Wed March 28, 2012

Michigan's motorcycle helmet repeal sent to Gov. Snyder

Mike Babcock Flickr

It’s now Governor Rick Snyder’s decision on whether to repeal Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law.

The state Senate has approved a measure to end the requirement, and it will soon be on the governor’s desk.

Governor Snyder has not said one way or the other what he intends to do. The Senate bill would allow people 21 and over to ride without head protection – if they carry extra insurance coverage.

But that did not persuade state Senator Roger Kahn, who is also a doctor. He says helmets save lives and protect against injuries that would otherwise be more severe.

“You take ‘em away, the accidents increase, the deaths increase, the costs increase – to `what end? To have your hair blow in the wind?”

Advocates for repealing the law say safety training is more important than head protection. People in Michigan’s hospitality industry also support the repeal. They say there will be more Michigan motorcycle tourism without the helmet requirement.

Politics
1:06 pm
Wed March 28, 2012

Michigan legislators vote to repeal motorcycle helmet law

The Michigan Senate has sent a measure to repeal the state's motorcycle helmet law to Governor Rick Snyder's desk. The measure would allow riders 21 years old and older to take off their helmets. They would also have to carry an additional $20,000 in personal injury coverage.

State Law
6:31 am
Wed June 29, 2011

Governor says helmetless riders should carry extra coverage

The state Senate has approved a measure that would repeal Michigan’s helmet requirement for motorcycle riders who agree to carry extra insurance coverage. But, the Senate bill was a compromise that pleased almost no one.

The Senate bill would require riders who doff their helmets to carry an extra $100 thousand in personal injury coverage. That was not enough to win the support of insurance companies and highway safety advocates. Opponents of the helmet law - such as Jim Rhodes - say the coverage would too expensive for most people and is almost the same as not repealing the requirement at all.

“It pretty much stops it in its tracks.”

Governor Snyder sent word that he’s not interested in a helmet law repeal that does not require helmetless riders to carry more coverage, but he’s willing to negotiate over the Legislature’s summer break.

But he appears to agree with estimates that suggest without the additional coverage for helmetless riders, the public could be saddled with more than $100 million in medical costs.