Tuesday, January 21, 2014

ABATE claims motorcycle deaths unaffected by helmet laws

Michigan’s increase in fatalities over the previous year (2011) for the first partial year of “helmet choice” was not directly related to the helmet law legislation which was modified to adult choice (21 years and older) in 2012, according to the Michigan State Police.

More motorcycle riders were killed wearing a motorcycle helmet than those without a motorcycle helmet. The “incapacitating injury” category was 60 percent higher for those wearing a motorcycle helmet.

The number of motorcycle fatalities for the previous five years are 2007, 127 fatalities; 2008, 127; 2009, 105; 2010, 125; 2011, 113; and 2012, 129.

The greatest problem with motorcycle fatalities is that 58 percent of all motorcycle fatalities in 2012 involved riders without a valid motorcycle license. They were riding illegally, and the majority of riders were wearing motorcycle helmets.

This is an all-time high for unlicensed riders with 38 percent of motorcycle fatalities being the low and an average of 40 to 45 percent during the last 15 years. This issue is more critical than helmet law modification.

ABATE (American Bikers Aiming Toward Education) is also working with the secretary of state and the office of highway safety planning to encourage unlicensed riders to obtain an endorsement and rider training.

Motorcycle insurance rates are higher in Michigan due to the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Fund Association (MCCA). None of the surrounding states have a catastrophic fund even though all of these states have a motorcycle helmet law similar to Michigan’s, which is the most strict.

The rates have been higher than surrounding states since the inception of MCCA in the late 70s and not simply since the modification of the Michigan motorcycle helmet law. The average payment into the fund is around $200 for all vehicles, including motorcycles. Motorcyclists can only collect from MCCA if hit by another motor vehicle, specifically a car, truck or bus.

Motorcyclists that run off the road, hit a deer or another motorcycle cannot collect from the fund even though they pay the full amount into the fund. There is no comparison of insurance rates with neighboring states as long as Michigan has no-fault insurance and a catastrophic fund.

Weather and the amount of riding days and conditions are all factors in Michigan motorcycling every year and 2012 was the best and longest riding season on record. Only 54 of the 129 motorcycle fatalities in 2012 were legally endorsed to ride a motorcycle, according to data from the Michigan State Police Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).

ABATE of Michigan supports public and private rider education. A current list of motorcycle rider education classes can be found at the Michigan secretary of state web site. ABATE of Michigan has worked with public schools and private driving instructors to teach more than 80,000 new drivers about motorcycle awareness using resources donated by ABATE members.

ABATE of Michigan is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the overall rights and promoting the safe operating practices of Michigan motorcyclists.

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers from a press release submitted to ironhorsehelmets.com. The story is edited to conform to Associated Press and local style. The group or individual who submitted the story is responsible for all information provided.)

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