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Bill to let motorcyclists decide helmet use signed into law

Friday, April 13, 2012

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan will become the 31st state to give motorcyclists the option of wearing a helmet under legislation signed by the governor on Thursday. 

Senate Bill 291, sponsored by state Sen. Phil Pavlov, lets motorcyclists choose whether to wear a helmet if they are at least 21 years old, carry additional insurance and have passed a motorcycle safety course or have had their motorcycle endorsement for at least two years. Motorcycle passengers who want to exercise this option also must be 21 or older and carry additional insurance.

The legislation was approved with bipartisan support.

"While many motorcyclists will continue to wear helmets, those who choose not to deserve the latitude to make their own informed judgments as long as they meet the requirements of this new law," Gov. Rick Snyder said. "There is no substitute for proper 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."

Michigan originally implemented its helmet-use law in 1967 to comply with U.S. Department of Transportation requirements for federal funds. That requirement is no longer in place. With this change, Michigan joins the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania that have repealed or amended helmet-use laws to give riders a choice. 

S.B. 291 is now Public Act 98 of 2012.

A detailed description of the bill may be found online at www.legislature.mi.gov.

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