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Proposed Michigan Helmet Law Repeal A Big Step Down a Slipperly Slope to a Motorcycle Nanny State

Does Helmet Law Repeal Come With Unfair Nanny State Strictures? You Be the Judge

Is the proposed law which would allow motorcyclists in Michigan to ride without helmets a victory for proponents of the clean dome rider look  – or just the first step on the slippery slope that leads to Nanny State meddling in the lives of riders?

As Michigan’s government considers repealing a statewide requirement that motorcyclists wear helmets when operating their vehicles, the new legislation comes with a massive caveat; riders over the age of 21 with at least two years of safe driving experience would be required to carry at least $100,000 in personal liability insurance.

What? I see what you did there…

Lot’s of riders in the state think that number is outrageously high, but what price freedom?

In the interest of fairness, if that is indeed what the requirement would represent, the number is calculated to account for the perceived potential medical risk involved in riding sans dome. Motorcycles represent just 3.5% of all registered vehicles in Michigan, but 11.8% of all motor fatalities occur as a result of motorcycle use.

As a result doctors and insurance companies are watching the developments in the state capital of Lansing, and squirming a tad.

The costs of  medical care for those involved in crashes which result in catastrophic or paralyzing injuries continue for a long, long time, and although Michigan’s current No-Fault insurance system promises complete, unlimited benefits for those involved in a crash – and Michigan is the only state which does –  riders who hit a tree or a deer without insurance are paid to the penny from the public coffers or the victim’s own pocket.

In March, the Michigan House of Representatives and the state’s Senate approved the bill.  The only remaining obstacle  is current Governor Rick Snyder.

“Rates really vary a lot,” says Ben Sheridan, general manager for motorcycle insurance with Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., “From one bike to another, they can be five to ten times different.”

Sheridan said the premium of $200 for insuring a small or midsize motorcycle can easily balloon to more than $1,000 for a high-horsepower sportsbike.

“If you’re not buying an expensive bike,” Sheridan says, “You can avoid “collision and comprehensive” coverage, which pays to repair or replace a crashed motorcycle.”

AAA Michigan is throwing their weight behind the anti-repeal side of the argument and the organization predicts that at least 30 additional motorcycle fatalities and  120+ incapacitating injuries will result in “an $129 million in additional economic costs to citizens.” AAA is hardly alone in their opposition to the proposed repeal. Recent polls say 81 percent of the state’s residents want the helmet law to stay.

ABATE of Michigan,  the state’s most vocal motorcycle rights organization, is not at all happy about the $100,000 in medical coverage stipulation. In Michigan, experts say that kind of  coverage reportedly would cost at least $1,000 per year and, and Vince Consiglio of ABATE says there’s one big problem with the fairness and practicality of the proposed requirement.

“It’s unavailable from many insurance companies,” Consiglio said.

ABATE likes to cite a study it commissioned which suggests repealing the  helmet law would be a boon to the economy of state hard hit by economic difficulties. According to the ABATE study, Michigan would benefit from an additional $1.2 billion in the sale of motorcycle parts and accessories and increased tourism should the helmet law take a hike.
The opponents the proposed change? They argue that,  and it’s a seemingly reasonable assumption, the requirement for $100,000 in medical coverage is insufficient at best. State Senator Roger Kahn thinks the number should be set at $250,000, and that represents  a couple thousand dollars a year to riders in additional insurance costs .

The repeal legislation as it was passed in the Senate requires that the  Michigan Department of State do a study of motorcycle accidents, injuries, and fatalities over the next four years, and that would go a long way toward injecting some actual rigor and reason into the debate.

So is all this much ado about nothing? What do you think about riding without a helmet?

Bad things can happen to you and your bike, and you need to be safe. We’re here to help…

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