Michigan lawmakers are making another attempt at repealing a state law that requires motorcyclists to wear helmets.
The state Senate recently gave final legislative approval to a repeal of the ban by a 24-14 vote late last month. The measure next goes to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, and it’s not clear whether he will sign it. Snyder has said he only wants to tackle the helmet law in the context of broader auto insurance reform. But proposals for more sweeping reforms appear stalled in the Legislature.
What's at issue is the way the unlimited medical benefits in Michigan's No-Fault Insurance law work with regard to motorcyclists who are injured as a result of an accident involving a motor vehicle. At present, regardless of who is at fault, the injured cyclist's medical expenses are all paid by the Personal Injury Protection coverage in the motor vehicle's auto insurance policy. The concern with repealing the helmet law is that the incidents of permanent head or brain injuries have the potential to increase and cause auto insurance rates to rise unless the No-Fault law is changed. The proposed No-Fault reform included a provision that would limit the coverage for motorcyclists coming from the auto insurance of the car involved in the accident.
The pending helmet proposal would allow riders 21 or older to go without helmets if they meet certain insurance and experience conditions. The Legislature has passed bills to repeal the state’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law previously, but the bills were vetoed twice by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
According to CBS News, State Senator Roger Kahn was among those opposed to the repeal.
“Helmets reduce the risk of death by 29 percent. They’re 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries to motorcycle riders,” Kahn said.
Insurance Institute spokeswoman Lori Conarton told WWJ Newsradio 950 a repeal would result in additional 30 fatalities each year, adding that auto insurance costs for all Michigan residents are also expected to increase.
Conarton estimates allowing motorcyclists to go helmet-less will cost the state a collective $100 million more each year in additional medical claims.
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Sources: Insurance Journal, CBS News