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Riders and legislators work to repeal Michigan's motorcycle helmet law

A moped chopper. Helmet needed?
user spicybear
A moped chopper. Helmet needed?

Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law is once again in the sights of advocates who say riders should be allowed to operate a bike without head protection.

Legislation approved today by the state Senate Transportation Committee would allow licensed operators to forgo a helmet if they are 21 years old and have had a motorcycle endorsement for two years; or they have passed a motorcycle safety course.

Jim Rhoades, an advocate for repealing the helmet law, says Michigan misses out on a lot of tourism and motorcycle-related economic activity because riders choose to vacation in other states.

"Every state surrounding Michigan allows adult choice and people do not come from those states to Michigan simply because we have a mandatory helmet law," said Rhoades.

Opponents of Michigan’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law plan to hold their annual summer rally tomorrow at the state Capitol.

Supporters of the law say repealing it would cause more deaths and injuries and increase the medical costs that would have to be picked up by the state's catastrophic claims fund.

Donald Smith is a retired highway safety researcher and motorcycle instructor:

"Sometime, you’re going to fall. Either you're going to fall over, you’re going to hit something, or someone’s going to hit you, but you’re head at some time or another is going to hit the road," said Smith. "And without the helmet, you’re going to be severely brain-damaged, or worse, you’ll be killed."

Measures to repeal the helmet law were repeatedly vetoed over the past eight years by Governor Jennifer Granholm. Governor Rick Snyder has taken no position on the legislation.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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