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The following is posted to the website of the Skilled Motorcyclist Association--Responsible, Trained and Educated Riders, Inc. We have reproduced it verbatim here. The seven key messages below are excellent talking points.

Act Now to Help Save Michigan's Helmet Law

The Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI) recently issued an “ePolicy Update” regarding the pending bills HB 4008, SB 291, and most recently HB 4608 that if passed would repeal Michigan’s mandatory all-rider helmet law. In order to combat what BIAMI described as “the consistent efforts of the small, yet boisterous group of motorcycle riders known as ABATE,” who assert that “their freedom to die with the wind in their hair is more important than your wishes, your pocketbook or your vote,” we support and applaud BIAMI’s spearheading a social-media campaign to confront this issue “head-on” and encourage active participation so that the contrary voice of responsible motorcyclists will be heard. Starting today and continuing for the next two weeks or for so long as the bills remain pending, log onto the following blog posts and facebook links to voice your collective opinions; engage in respectful dialogue; and share your personal views and experiences regarding the physical, emotional, and financial hardships that can affect persons with brain injuries and their families…experiences that will be shared by more Michigan citizens as a direct result of the increased injuries and fatalities that will surely arise as a result of the selfish choice of some motorcycle riders to ride without a helmet:

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Here are seven key messages and statistics BIAMI has identified that you can reference to help substantiate your position with FACTS not FEELINGS:

  • Michigan Medicaid is already paying nearly $20 million annually (NOT including auto crashes or the more than half of all Medicaid recipients who are in managed care plans) for the care of survivors of a brain injury.
  • Amidst soaring gas and food prices and an unstable state economy, Michigan taxpayers cannot absorb the increased public cost of care that will result from the repeal of the Motorcycle Helmet Law. Two University of Michigan studies (Trends in Motorcycle Crashes in Michigan: 1997–2002 and 2002–2005, University of Michigan, Transportation Research Institute) confirm that wearing a helmet saves lives and prevents devastating and debilitating head injuries.
  • Michael L. Prince, Director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, stated in a June 2008 press release that “Based on analysis conducted by our office, if Michigan’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law was to be repealed, the state should expect to see an annual increase of at least 30 fatalities, 127 incapacitating injuries and $129 million in economic costs.”
  •  A study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that within 30 months of Florida’s 2000 Helmet Law repeal, head-injury hospitalizations skyrocketed 80 percent and total cost for acute care of head injuries doubled to $44 million, not including the cost of long-term rehabilitation or the economic impact of lost wages for survivors of a serious head injury and their families.
  • ABATE of Michigan, the organization that actively lobbies to repeal or weaken Michigan’s universal helmet law, claims to represent all Michigan motorcyclists, when in fact they are a minority biker group of approximately 4,000 members. According to the Michigan Department of State, as of February 1, 2009, there were 533,005 motorcycle-license-endorsed Michigan residents. As of November 8, 2008, Michigan had 257,269 registered motorcycles; therefore, ABATE represents significantly less than 1 percent of Michigan’s license-endorsed motorcyclists. It is likely that anti-helmet advocates in every state represent a very small percent of the licensed riders in that state.
  • ABATE seems to consider the use of helmets by motorcyclists as a freedom-of-choice issue based on the American ideals of Truth and Liberty. The Constitution and the first ten amendments do not give individuals the “right to do as they please” to the detriment of other citizens. The state has a positive role in ensuring that all citizens have equal protection and justice under the law and equal opportunities to exercise the privileges of citizenship. Just as the rights of citizenship are balanced by responsibilities, such as voting and paying taxes, so too are its privileges. To enjoy the privilege of driving a car or riding a motorcycle, one must comply with certain requirements, among them being the nonintrusive requisite to buckle up or wear a helmet.
  • The “freedom” to ride with the wind in your hair isn’t free when Michigan’s taxpayers are expected to pay for the selfish choice of motorcyclists who simply do not want to wear a helmet.

For even more detailed research findings and concurring opinions that support the wisdom of wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle, go to the Resources & Links and the News & Legislation pages of this Web site or access these BIAMI links: Motorcycle Helmet Repeal Brief, CDC Fact Sheet - Motorcycle Safety for Michigan, and/or NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts - 2009.

The Michigan Legislature, within two short weeks, is expected to repeal Michigan's mandatory helmet law, and it is also expected that Governor Snyder will sign a repeal bill into law—this, despite numerous polling over the past five years, and as recent as March 2011, showing that over 80% of Michigan’s residents do not want Michigan’s current helmet law repealed; despite statistics from Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and other states that reveal the disastrous and deadly results of their so-called successful motorcycle helmet law repeal efforts; and despite the added financial burden to be placed on the already overburdened shoulders of the Michigan Medicaid system and Michigan taxpayers. 

Your opinion matters! Log on now. Collectively, we can make a difference. We MUST make a difference, or Michigan will follow the same tragic path as Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. And that’s something we cannot afford to do … literally.

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