motorcycle

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New Michigan legislation would allow bikes and motorcycles to run red lights. 

Many two-wheeled vehicles, like bicycles, motorcycles and mopeds, aren't heavy enough to trigger traffic sensors. The bill would require cyclists to wait for 60 seconds to show that their vehicle is not triggering a green light. After one minute, cyclists would wait for traffic to clear before proceeding.

Dwayne Gill is a legislative liason for the State Police.

He told the Detroit Free Press that the bill concerned the police:

"It's giving the green light to run a red light for those types of vehicles," Gill said. "A driver in a car may see that and want to go through a red light, too. It sets up a very dangerous situation and a dangerous precedent."

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee would vote on the bill next week.

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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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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data shows people who drink and drive motorcycles in Michigan were much less likely to wear helmets after the state repealed its mandatory helmet law.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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Experts agree that the best way to reduce traffic fatalities involving motorcyclists is mandatory helmet laws.

But only nineteen states have such laws, and the number is smaller than it used to be, as several states in recent years repealed their mandatory helmet laws, including Michigan.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says barring that most effective strategy, Congress should consider letting states use their federal motorcycle safety grants for more things.

Some bikers have been riding without helmets since a law requiring them was repealed in April.
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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 is how long it has been since the law was changed.

American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE) point to state data between January and the end of August.

But state officials say it is really too early to tell what the effect has been.

Anne Readett of the state’s Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) said the data is provisional and incomplete.

“We, in our office, are not going to speculate one way or the other until we know that we have final data to look at,” she said.

The OHSP did release up-to-date numbers showing biker deaths slightly up since last year. The department also said there has been a 14 percent increase in incapacitating injuries.

Readett said they won’t be able to reach any good conclusions until at least spring, when they analyze the entire year.

Some bikers have been riding without helmets since a law requiring them was repealed in April.
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A state House committee has approved a measure that would allow motorcyclists 21 years and older with at least two years of experience to ride without a helmet.

This is the newest compromise that opponents of the helmet law hope will win the support of Governor Rick Snyder.

The measure to repeal the four-decade-old helmet law now goes to the floor of the state House for a vote.

Republican state Representative Peter Petallia (R-Presque Isle)is the sponsor.

He says Michigan is the only state in the Midwest that does not allow motorcycle riders to remove their helmets.

“If Michigan did not have a helmet law, so you think we would enact a helmet law? My answer would be ‘no'," said Petallia.

Governor Snyder has said he will not support a helmet law repeal without assurances the costs of medical care for injured riders won’t be passed along to taxpayers or insurance rate payers.

The Petallia bill requires riders who want to doff their helmets to carry an additional $20,000 in medical coverage.

Opponents of the repeal say that would not cover a week of intensive care.

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Some legislators in Lansing are working on changing Michigan's motorcycle helmet law, but a recent poll of likely Michigan voters indicates a majority of people oppose the changes.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The poll from EPIC-MRA released today says 68% of those surveyed oppose proposed legislative changes that would allow some to ride without helmets. Thirty-one percent favored the legislation and 1% was undecided.

The telephone poll of 600 respondents was conducted July 9-11 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Motorcycle advocates who are working to repeal Michigan's helmet law have held rallies in Lansing.

A similar protest against New York's helmet law had a ironic tragedy. A helmet-less rider died in Onondaga, NY when he lost control of his motorcycle during the rally.

From ABC News:

Police said Philip A. Contos, 55, hit his brakes and his motorcycle fishtailed. Contos was sent over the handlebars of his 1983 Harley Davidson and hit his head on the pavement.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

"The medical expert we discussed the case with who pronounced him deceased stated that he would've no doubt survived the accident had he been wearing a helmet," state Trooper Jack Keller told ABC News 9 in Syracuse.

Some riders in the rally told ABC that it was a tragedy, but it wouldn't change their minds about riding without a helmet.

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Changing the state's motorcycle helmet law

Michigan is one of twenty state requiring motorcyclists to where a helmet, but that might change. The Saginaw News reports on two pieces of legislation aimed at allowing riders to go without a helmet:

Two bills repealing the state’s helmet law have been introduced in the state Legislature.

House Bill 4608, sponsored originally by Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, and co-sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Horn, R-Frankenmuth, would allow riders 21 or older to go without helmets if they carry at least $20,000 in personal liability insurance.

Senate Bill 291, sponsored by Sen. Phillip Pavlov, R-St. Clair, would not require helmets on riders 20 or older if they have passed a safety course or carried a motorcycle endorsement the previous two years.

The Saginaw News reports Governor Granholm vetoed two bills similar to these, and Governor Rick Snyder hasn't taken a stance on them.

Gas prices up again

AAA Michigan says the cheapest gas in Michigan can be found in Lansing, and the most expensive can be found in Ann Arbor. From the Associated Press:

AAA Michigan says gasoline prices are up 17 cents per gallon over the past week to a statewide average of $4.12.

The auto club says Monday the statewide average is about $1.37 per gallon higher than last year at this time.

Of the cities it surveys, AAA Michigan says the cheapest price for self-serve unleaded fuel is in the Lansing area, where it's $4.07 a gallon. The highest average can be found in the Ann Arbor area at $4.15.

Dearborn-based AAA Michigan surveys 2,800 Michigan gas stations daily.

Flags lowered today

Governor Rick Snyder has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff today for Staff Sgt. Ergin V. Osman - a member of the Army's 101st Airborne Ranger Pathfinders. Osman was killed by an improvised explosive device on May 26.  From the Associated Press:

Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered U.S. flags throughout Michigan to be lowered to half-staff in honor of a military serviceman who died in Afghanistan.

The order was in effect for today.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ergin V. Osman, who grew up in Macomb County's Harrison Township and Sterling Heights, was killed along with five other soldiers by an improvised explosive device on May 26. He was a member of the Army's 101st Airborne Ranger Pathfinders based at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

Osman was 35.

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Grand Rapids City Commission gave their support to a big motorcycle event scheduled to take place this summer. Organizers of a new big motorcycle rally were able to coax commissioners into supporting a shortened version of the original event.