Michigan Stopped Requiring Motorcycle Helmets And Injuries Went Way Up, Duh

Illustration for article titled Michigan Stopped Requiring Motorcycle Helmets And Injuries Went Way Up, Duh

The state of Michigan repealed its mandatory helmet law in 2012. Now, with three riding seasons having passed since then, we finally have enough numbers to prove that it’s stupid and causing more people to have more serious injuries.


In Michigan, it’s legal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, as long as you have a motorcycle license, are over the age of 21, and have at least $20,000 in additional medical coverage. This used to be against the law but, with a little help from the AMA, this was repealed back in 2012. For freedom.

To prove what common sense already tells us, the American Journal of Surgery decided to look into the numbers now that we have a nice sampling of data.


The results? Deaths at the scene of motorcycle accidents more than quadrupled, while deaths of motorcyclists who made it to the hospital tripled.

When looking at just the riders who were taken to the hospital, the number riding sans helmet rose from 7% to 28%, and 10% of them died in the hospital compared to 3% of riders brought in who’d been wearing a helmet.

Of all the riders who died at the scene of an accident, the number not wearing a helmet went from 14% to 68%.

Illustration for article titled Michigan Stopped Requiring Motorcycle Helmets And Injuries Went Way Up, Duh

In order to assess the data, the study team looked the records for patient who’d been admitted to Spectrum Health Hospital for 2011 (before the law was repealed) through 2014. They also looked at data from state transportation department records to learn about on-site fatalities.

In addition to the above, they also found that non-helmeted riders were more likely to have consumed alcohol, stayed in the ICU for longer, and spent an average of $7,000 more on their hospital stays.


I know this may not be a popular opinion, but I don’t hate the state’s decision to not have a helmet law (even though I don’t like riding without one). I think the AMA has plenty of better things it could be doing, like focusing on making lanespitting legal, but that motorcycling is inherently dangerous and it’s up to everyone to choose how much they want to risk.

I do think it’s good that Michigan requires non-helmeted users to carry increased insurance plans, though those could likely be bumped to higher number and better enforced.


I’m all for personal freedom until you’re costing the rest of us money.

Source: Reuters and The American Journal of Surgery

Photos: Getty Images

Contact the author at sean.macdonald@jalopnik.com. Follow Lanesplitter on Facebook and Twitter.


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I think that no-helmet laws are just fine, as long as they come with mandatory organ donation attached to it.

I also am fine with lanesplitting laws as long as it is also completely legal to open a car door at random in a traffic jam too. Lanesplitters also being mandatory organ donors.