Michigan governor Rick Snyder has signed into law a bill repealing the state’s mandatory helmet laws. As of today, motorcyclists can ride without wearing a helmet.

Senate Bill No. 291, introduced Republican State Senator Phil Pavlov, amends state law to allow riders 21 and older to ride without a helmet provided they have carry an additional $20,000 in medical insurance and have either passed a motorcycle safety course or had their motorcycle endorsement for at least two years.

Passengers over 21 may also ride helmet-less provided the passenger is covered by a $20,000 insurance policy purchased by the passenger or rider.

Various groups have tried to repeal Michigan’s helmet law in the past, with former Governor Jennifer Granholm twice vetoing legislation. Gov. Snyder supported repealing the law, arguing helmets do not make up for rider training.

“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,” says Gov. Snyder. “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.”

Pavlov says the amendment will help attract motorcycle tourists who would otherwise avoid traveling through Michigan because they do not wish to wear helmets.

“Every year, millions of dollars leave our state because of Michigan’s outdated mandatory helmet law,” Pavlov said. “This bipartisan plan will keep our dollars here, attract even more tourists to Michigan and help our state in these tough economic times.”

Vince Consiglio, president of the Michigan chapter of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) welcomes the new law arguing the legislation will not lead to an increase in insurance premiums.

“The problem is, helmet laws have done nothing to improve safety or reduce fatalities or the cost of insurance,” said Vince Consiglio, President of ABATE of Michigan. “Motorcycle accidents are a very small percentage of accidents overall. Data from other states demonstrate that states that remove mandatory helmet laws do not see an increase in insurance premiums, and states that institute helmet laws do not see a corresponding decrease in insurance rates. It’s never happened.”

Critics however argue the legislation will lead to an increase in serious injuries. AAA Michigan says the helmet law repeal will result in at least an additional 30 fatalities and 127 injuries, resulting in $129 million in medical costs passed onto taxpayers.

States with Mandatory Helmet Law:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

States with Age-Restricted Helmet Laws:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States with No Helmet Laws

  • Illinois
  • Iowa

[Source: Michigan.gov, ABATE, AAA, BikersRights.org]