Michigan considers helmetless permits

House approves bill by 70-38 margin

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jun. 05, 2008
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will receive a bill that could allow motorcyclists to buy permits letting them ride without helmets.

The House approved a bill on June 4 by a vote of 70-38 that would allow motorcyclists 21 and older to purchase permits for $100 a year (or $200 for three years) excusing them from Michigan’s mandatory helmet laws. Riders would have to pass a motorcycle safety course and have their license for more than two years to qualify for the permit.

Over 100 motorcyclists from across the state attended what the organizers called a ‘freedom rally’ at the Capitol building in Lansing to show their support of the bill.

The Michigan branch of the American Automobile Association, however, is urging the governor to veto the bill.

“If the mandatory helmet requirement is repealed or waived through a fee, there will be a significant increase in severe head injuries and deaths,” says Jack Peet, manager of community safety services for AAA Michigan. “Studies show that in a crash, unhelmeted motorcyclists are 40 times more likely than helmeted cyclists to suffer a fatal head injury.”

“Lawmakers have known for some time that this legislation would result in 30 additional motorcycle fatalities each year, along with 127 more incapacitating injuries and $129 million in added economic costs to Michigan citizens,” says Peet. “This is based on the experience of other states where similar measures have been enacted.”

A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that 40% more motorcyclists were admitted to hospitals after Florida repealed its universal helmet law in 2002.

Michigan State Legislature passed a similar bill in 2006 but Granholm vetoed it citing safety concerns.