Legislation being considered today by the House Committee on Regulatory Reform in Lansing, Michigan that would allow motorcyclists to ride without a helmet on the state's roadways is being opposed by AAA Michigan.
The legislation will increase motorcycle fatalities and injuries and would increase costs for all motorists, AAA Michigan reports.
A 2005 AAA study found nearly 90% of AAA Michigan members opposed a repeal of the state's mandatory motorcycle helmet law, which has served Michigan for more than 36 years.
A repeal of the motorcycle helmet law will result in at least 30 additional motorcycle fatalities each year, along with 127 more incapacitating injuries and $129 million in added economic costs to Michigan citizens, notes AAA. This is based on the experience of other states where similar measures have been enacted.
As evidenced by increased medical costs passed on to taxpayers, motorcycle deaths and long-term catastrophic injuries are on the rise.
Motorcycle crashes account for a disproportionate share of money paid out of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA), a fund that is supported by a surcharge on every auto insurance policy in Michigan.
Although motorcyclists represent 1.9% of the assessments paid into the MCCA, they account for 5% of all money paid out and 7% of all claims reported. Since its inception in 1978, MCCA has reimbursed member insurers more than $321 million for 712 motorcycle injury claims exceeding the threshold.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2007, 5,154 motorcyclists were killed - a 7% increase over the 4,837 motorcyclists killed in 2006. In Michigan, 127 motorcyclists were killed and another 3,462 were injured in motorcycle crashes in 2008. The number of motorcycle crashes in the state rose from 3,723 in 2007 to 3,969 in 2008.
NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,784 motorcyclists' lives in 2007, and that 800 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
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