Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

April 10, 2013

Impact of state motorcycle helmet law debated

(Continued)

Consiglio said Flannagan’s study does not take into account last year’s mild weather, which likely meant more people were riding. He said ABATE did its own study in September examining data from January through August 2011 and 2012. It determined that fatalities decreased from 89 in 2011 to 85 in 2012, while the number of registrations increased.

Insurance companies and health care officials opposed changing the law last year, arguing it would cause more serious and long-term injuries that could raise medical and insurance rates for all Michigan residents.

Michael Dabbs, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, said the $20,000 insurance coverage that riders are required to buy “would probably buy you part of the day in the ER and intensive care and not much more.”

He said treating a serious brain injury can cost more than $1 million throughout a patient’s lifetime. They often end up on Medicaid and that cost then gets pushed onto taxpayers, he said.

But he said it will take a few more years to determine the financial impact the law change has had on Michigan’s health care industry.

Nancy Cain, spokeswoman for AAA of Michigan said since June, it has had three personal injury claims from motorcyclists not wearing helmets and in each case the cost will exceed $1 million. They cannot compare the number of claims to previous years because this is the first year they are tracking them by helmet or no helmet use.

Consiglio said that if the state wants to be serious about motorcycle safety, it should institute an awareness program warning drivers to look out for motorcyclists.

“Other states have shown reduction in car-motorcycle accidents that have used public service announcements,” he said.

But while some say it is too early to tell what impact it has had in Michigan, supporters of helmet wearing point to data from states, like Florida.

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