Since April 2012, Michigan motorcyclists who have medical insurance and are over the age of 21 are legally allowed to ride without a helmet. Advocates who lobbied for this change believe that people are flocking to Michigan to ride their motorcycles because of the freedom and comfort that comes with operating a motorcycle without a helmet. Those opposed to the bill believe that the recent increase in motorcycle fatalities is directly tied to the state's changes in helmet laws. Whether or not you agree with the law, it is clear that wearing a properly fitted helmet can reduce your chances of suffering a traumatic or fatal brain injury in the event of a crash.
Motorcycle Helmet Statistics
When the Michigan helmet law went into effect, the number of riders who took to the street without a helmet increased right away. According to a study by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, 98 percent of motorcyclists involved in crashes from 2008 through 2012 were wearing a helmet. From April 2012 through the end of that year, 74 percent of motorcyclists involved in accidents were not wearing a helmet.
According to the 2012 Michigan Traffic Crash Facts:
- Fatally injured motorcyclists in Michigan in the year 2012 included 48 motorcycle operators and seven motorcycle passengers who were not wearing a helmet and 62 motorcyclists and five passengers who were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
- The group of riders 25 to 34 years of age who were not helmeted had the most motorcycle operator deaths (21). The next most common age group for fatally injured Michigan riders who were not helmeted was 34 to 44 years of age (16 deaths).
- Only 148 riders who were not wearing a helmet at the time of their crash escaped without an injury compared to 617 motorcycle riders who were not injured while wearing a helmet.
Immediate Effects of the New Michigan Helmet Law
More time has to pass before it can be said conclusively that the new helmet law is resulting in more fatalities and injuries, but there are many indicators that give credence to that theory. For example, the Highway Loss Data Institute found that the average insurance payment on a Michigan motorcycle injury claim has increased by 34 percent since the new law was enacted. The average injury claim for a Michigan motorcycle accident has increased from $5,410 to $7,257 since the law changed. This means that since the new law went into effect, motorcycle riders are asking for more money for their losses because they are sustaining more serious injuries.
Why You Should Wear a Helmet
Michigan motorcyclists do not need the government to tell them whether or not to wear a helmet. All riders have it in their best interests to wear a properly fitted and certified helmet. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets are estimated to prevent 37 percent of crash deaths among motorcycle riders and 41 percent of crash deaths for motorcycle passengers.
Choosing the Right Helmet
A full-face helmet will give you the most protection because it covers your entire head. These types of helmets typically have moveable face shields that can protect a rider's eyes. Some riders choose three-quarter open-face helmets while others choose half helmets that are more prone to falling off during a collision. When making your decision, it is important to choose one that is comfortably snug while meeting DOT standards.
Protecting Your Rights After a Michigan Motorcycle Accident
If you are ever involved in a Michigan motorcycle accident, it is important that you take the steps necessary to protect your rights. With the help of a skilled Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer, you may be able to seek and obtain financial compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, suffering and other related damages. The skilled and knowledgeable Michigan biker injury attorneys at Buckfire & Buckfire P.C. have more than 50 years of experience handling motorcycle accident cases on behalf of victims and their families. Please contact us at 1-800-606-1717 to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.