Recently, Michigan celebrated what has become a dismal anniversary – the 2012 repeal of Michigan’s helmet law for motorcyclists. Back in the day, this event was met with cheers from the Evel Knievel crowd, who believed that increased tourism and commerce numbers would trump any concerns legislators had about safety.
As usual, the desire by lawmakers to eliminate legislative oversight and protections for people has led to some tragic results in the long run across our state.
According to Michigan State Police data compiled by Bridge Magazine, 138 persons were killed in 2015 motorcycle crashes – higher than any year dating back to 1985. From 2000 to 2011, an average of just under 112 motorcyclists were killed a year. From 2012 – when the helmet repeal took effect – through 2015, that number averaged nearly 126 persons, a total of 56 additional deaths.
These are sobering statistics directly attributable to not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Fifty-six more families in Michigan have suffered as a direct result of our GOP-controlled legislature’s desire to implement freedom only sparingly, and only when it suits them politically.
So, let me clue you in on a few things. Riding a motorcycle is just about the dumbest activity a human can choose to do. Only slightly more risky is bungee jumping and skydiving – feats which many life insurance companies will not cover or pay out policies when someone shuffles loose the mortal coil while engaged in these Darwin natural selection-based activities.
State government should require companies that sell funeral plots to set up camp right next door to motorcycle stores because – sooner or later – your activity on the bike will require you to use that product as well. Maybe it’s a wobble caused by your lack of training or road fatigue. Maybe it’s another careless driver who’s focused more on ensuring that just the right Kanye track is on their car stereo. It could actually be just a simple rock in the road that you hit with your front wheel. But you’ve never heard of an instance where a motorcyclist got the better end of a two-vehicle crash.
Don’t get me wrong, cars aren’t safe either. But at least you have some reasonable assurances and protections (seat belts, roll cages, crumple zones, air bags) that you might walk away from a wreck. I also believe all vehicles should be made of Nerf, but I’ll save that for a different day.
In the best of circumstances, riding a motorcycle is an uncomfortable experience. It’s always hot. It’s hard on your body. Bugs ping off your face and get in your teeth. It’s noisy. You can’t carry any cargo. Even tipping over a bike onto yourself at a low speed is a one-way trip to the hospital. Bottom line: motorcycles are death traps – and risking your life to live out some sort of Easy Rider fantasy isn’t worth the thrill.
Yet, society insists that we protect these weapons-grade morons with the same sort of insurance coverage motorists enjoy, despite the dangerously increased risks.
State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and chairman of the Transportation Committee and a proponent of the current helmet law (and the boob who has recently brought you the state legislature’s transgender bathroom hi-jinx), won’t say if he would In short, don’t expect it to be on anyone’s legislative agenda any time soon.
Statistics from AAA of Michigan are clear: riding a motorcycle without a helmet costs non-riders millions of dollars more in health care costs, driving up health care premiums in Michigan for everyone. The current law requires that jackwagons with an Arthur Fonzarelli complex who choose to ignore common sense undergo a safety course after two years of riding (maybe) and purchase a $20,000 medical rider (definite maybe), a laughable amount when you realize a simple outpatient surgery to repair a bad shoulder cost me more in recent years.
Want me to sign off on your ability to ride without helmet? Insure yourself with a $2 million rider, complete with an indemnification clause for your fellow citizens because of your terrible, thoughtless decision-making.
Live your life. Ride a motorcycle at your own peril until you become a stain on the road in a replica bomber jacket. But don’t expect non-riders to pay for your long term medical expenses when your brain pan is spread across a quarter mile stretch of I-94.