OFF THE WIRE
Feds oppose change to Michigan helmet law
NTSB will lobby Gov. Snyder to not repeal requirement for motorcyclists 21 and older David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau The National Transportation Safety Board urged the state of Michigan not to drop its mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists.
Board Vice Chairman Christopher Hart said in an interview Thursday that the state Legislature should not proceed with a proposal to repeal the state's helmet law. Hart noted that Louisiana reinstated its helmet law after it saw a spike in motorcycle deaths and injuries.
A bill to repeal Michigan's helmet law for riders 21 and older if they met certain conditions was approved by a Senate committee earlier this month and could be on the governor's desk later this summer. Riders would be eligible to ride bareheaded if they have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years or have passed a safety course.
NTSB spokesman Bill Gossard said board officials would meet with Gov. Rick Snyder's office today to discuss the issue. Snyder hasn't taken a position on the bill.
The Senate Fiscal Agency said in an analysis of the repeal bill that if it "led to more head injuries, Medicaid costs for the State could potentially increase."
And a widely quoted Office of Highway Safety Planning analysis concluded that a repeal of the law would result in at least 30 additional motorcycle fatalities each year, along with 127 more incapacitating injuries and $129 million in additional economic costs to citizens.
According to AAA, motorcycle crashes account for a disproportionate share of money paid out of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, a fund supported by a surcharge on every auto insurance policy in the state. While motorcyclists represent 2 percent of the assessment paid into the MCCA, they account for 5 percent of money paid.
Then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm twice vetoed efforts to overturn Michigan's helmet law — in 2006 and 2008.
This is the second year that the NTSB has made motorcycle safety one of its top 10 "Most Wanted" safety priorities.
From 1997-2009, annual motorcycle deaths doubled to 4,462. On average, 12 motorcyclists were killed daily