Hailed by many as a victory for individual freedom, while assailed by others as a harbinger of increased injuries, fatalities and higher insurance rates, Governor Snyder signed the repeal of Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law last Thursday. The State adopted the law in 1967 to comply with federal mandates governing the receipt of transportation funding. By repealing the law, Michigan joins 30 other states that make helmet wearing optional, including our neighboring states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Those wishing to take advantage of the law must meet 3 basic requirements:
Despite these mandates, the law does not require motorcyclists to carry proof of medical coverage, proof of completion of a safety course, or verification of how long they have held a motorcycle endorsement. Further, law enforcement officers may not stop helmet-less motorcyclists for the sole purpose of verifying whether or not they meet the requirements of the statute.
There are an estimated 236,000 registered motorcycles in Michigan. And, with gas prices going through the roof, many are looking anew at motorcycles as a possible alternative to meet some of their transportation needs. No matter where you stand on the helmet law, you need to be aware that motorcycles are everywhere. The new law comes at a time when the 2012 riding season is just ramping up.
As a motorcyclist myself, I know from experience that many motorists are not properly attuned to the presence of motorcycles on the road. As the Governor observed when signing the new law: “There is no substitute for pro
per training, education and awareness when it comes to operating any motor vehicle. We must continue working together to keep our roads safe by making sure that everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car or on a motorcycle has the proper skills. Traffic safety is a responsibility shared by all motorists.” (By the way, in case you’re wondering, I always have, and always will, wear a helmet.)
The law, Enrolled Senate Bill 291, now known as Public Act 98 of 2012, passed with bi-partisan support and took immediate effect. The entire text of the new law can be found at: