Michigan Department of Community Health Opposes Helmet Law Repeal

Contact: James McCurtis, Jr. (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

March 26, 2010

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is firmly against the State House vote on Thursday to repeal the current Michigan Helmet Law, which would allow motorcycle riders aged 21 years and older to operate their vehicle without a helmet. The House voted 63 to 46 on House Bill 4747 to repeal the helmet law. The bill will now go to the Senate.

"The decision to repeal the Michigan Helmet Law is completely misguided and it is a disservice to the people of Michigan," said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. "The current law protects motorcycle riders from serious and in many cases fatal injury. If this law is removed, there will be great potential for more injuries and deaths related to motorcycle accidents."

If the bill becomes law, more riders could opt not to wear a helmet. As a result, injuries and fatalities would increase. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that helmets reduce the risk of fatal head injury by 40 percent and the risk of death by 37 percent.

In addition to the higher risk of serious and fatal injury, the cost of health and automobile insurance for all residents will increase. Medicaid expenditures will increase, also. A person riding without a helmet is 37 percent more likely to need ambulance services, be admitted to a hospital as an inpatient, have higher hospital costs, need neurosurgery, intensive care, and rehabilitation, be permanently impaired, and need long-term care. Many of those cases would be uncompensated care or billed to Medicaid, which means the general Michigan population would be left to pay the bill.