Motorcycle helmet law one step closer to repeal

Jeff Browne has strong feelings about the potential repeal of Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law.

Browne, Mount Pleasant Police public information officer, said he likes the law because he was once struck on duty while on a motorcycle.

“Had it not been for my helmet, I’m not sure how much of my head would have been left,” Browne said. “I got hit and then bounced off the cement several times, and it left a pretty big patch in my helmet.”

Earlier this month, the state House approved to repeal the current law with legislation that gives motorcyclists older than 21 the right to drive without a helmet if they have at least two years of experience and at least $20,000 worth of medical insurance.

Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, co-sponsored the bill, which will now head to the state Senate, where a different version of the bill was already approved in June.

“The (helmet) law should be repealed because it is a matter of personal choice,” said Vince Consiglio, president of American Bikers Aiming Toward Education of Michigan. “Michigan motorcycle fatalities are higher when compared to the surrounding states, which are all adult choice. Helmets do not prevent accidents.”

Tougher motorcycle licensing, motorcycle safety and car driver awareness of motorcycles are the ways to prevent motorcycle accidents, not mandatory helmet laws, Consiglio said.

Browne added enforcement of the law is rarely an issue because Mount Pleasant motorcyclists usually follow it.

“I understand that people want their choice to wear a helmet. But for me, it’s just a big safety precaution,” Browne said.

The bill could be approved by the Senate once state legislature comes back into session after Thanksgiving.

Gov. Rick Snyder's office said it is unclear if the governor would sign the bill into law.

“Governor Snyder has been consistently clear that in order for him to consider any repeal, it would have to be in the context of broader auto insurance reform, so that motorists and drivers aren’t held responsible,” said a spokeswoman from the governor’s office.