It has been over a decade since the Michigan legislature repealed the state law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. Since then, motorcycle accident fatalities have risen 34 percent, despite the decline in motorcycle-related crashes during the same time span. Because bikes offer minimal impact protection, wearing a helmet is one way to reduce the risk of catastrophic injury.
However, even the most safety-conscious rider can become the victim of a careless driver. When that happens, hiring an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer is the best way to protect your rights and receive the compensation you deserve.
Recommended reading: 5 Tips to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents
No. When Michigan’s mandatory helmet law was repealed in 2012, certain restrictions were established.
First, motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 must wear an approved helmet at all times.
For operators and passengers 21 and over, the following conditions apply:
Passengers 21 and over must have least $20,000 in first-party Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical benefits to ride without a helmet
NOTE: All motorcycle helmets must comply with standards established by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
In addition, anyone under 19 must wear an approved helmet to operate a moped on a public roadway.
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The most important reason to wear a motorcycle helmet is simple. Helmets save lives. According to the CDC, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by almost 70 percent. Last year, more than half of the motorcyclists killed last year in accidents were not wearing helmets according to state police statistics.
The consequences of repealing the mandatory helmet law are illustrated in the crash statistics over the past decade. According to Michigan State Police, the number of motorcycle-related accidents decreased from 3,600 in 2012 to 3,158 in 2022. During the same period, motorcyclist fatalities rose from 129 deaths in 2012 to 173 in 2022.
In addition, helmet use decreased by 24 – 27 percent, resulting in a 14 percent increase in serious head injuries during the first year following the repeal of the law, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health.
This increase in motorcycle fatalities dovetails with the rise in fatal car accidents, which have increased 19 percent in the last ten years, from 936 in 2012 to 1,123 in 2022, despite the overall decrease in car accidents during that time period.
Recommended reading: What Every Biker Needs to Know about Michigan Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Yes. While motorcyclists over 21 may forego helmets under certain conditions, they are legally required to wear proper eye protection when riding a bike without a windshield. This protection includes sufficiently-sized goggles, eyeglasses or face shields made of shatter-resistant materials.
There are several other laws motorcyclists must follow regarding registration, traffic rules, horns, lights, mirrors and other subjects. For a detailed list of Michigan motorcycle laws, click here.
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While some accidents are unavoidable, these simple safety tips can help make your next ride safer:
Recommended reading: A Guide to the Michigan Laws for Motorcycle Passengers
Because many of our lawyers and staff members ride, we know the pleasures and pitfalls of motorcycling. We also understand the complexities of Michigan motorcycle law and the challenging legal issues surrounding these claims. With our vast collective experience, legal expertise and extensive resources, we know how to build a winning case and we will fight for the compensation you deserve.
That’s the Bernstein Biker Advantage®.
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