In 2012, Michigan replaced a universal motorcycle helmet law by passing a partial mandatory motorcycle helmet law. The new law only required helmets for drivers under 21 that still had a learner’s permit and had been driving for less than two years. Unlike the partial helmet law, universal helmet laws require mandatory helmets for all motorcycle riders. Michigan was the latest of several states to lower the standard for helmet laws across the country. However, as motorcycle injuries continue to play a major role in traffic related deaths, experts look to reverse the trend. A Michigan State study, led by Nicholas Adams, investigated the relationship between the partial helmet law passed in 2012 and the prevalence of head trauma in motorcycle accidents.
The study revealed staggering results. After 2012, the percent of un-helmeted motorcycle riders who experienced head trauma rose from 20 to 44 percent. In other words, after helmet laws decreased, riders in Michigan were twice as likely to experience head trauma without a helmet than before the laws passed. The most recent Michigan State study echoed a similar study conducted in Pennsylvania in 2008 after the state switched to partial helmet laws in 2003. The Pennsylvania study similarly revealed that, in the two years after the helmet laws changed, helmet use decreased from 82 percent to 58 percent. The sharp decrease in helmet use led to a 42 percent increase in hospitalizations from motorcycle-related head injuries.
“Helmet use under partial helmet laws has been shown to decline over time.” –Allan Phillip, director or Allegheny General Hospital.
Proponents of stronger helmet laws, including the director of Allegheny General Hospital Trauma and Critical Care, Allan Philip, claim that these studies prove universal helmet laws encourage helmet usage with motorcycle riders. Phillip explains that motorcycle injuries can be significantly reduced with helmet usage and universal laws are an effective way to reach this goal. Although many actors in the medical field support stronger laws, some people claim the studies do not look at the entire scope of the problem. Charles Umbenhauer, a lobbyist for the Pennsylvania branch of Alliance of Bikers Towards Education, claims that many people are not complying with partial helmet laws which make accurate data difficult to obtain. Umbenhauer explains that many riders who are legally required to wear a helmet under partial helmet laws still decide not to comply. Therefore, some people claim efforts should be placed on better enforcement of current laws instead passing stricter laws.
Wisconsin is 1 of 28 states that has partial helmet laws for motorcyclists.
Despite legislative debates, the benefits of wearing a helmet cannot be overstated as motorcyclists hit the road for the summer. In Wisconsin alone, over 100 people die every year because of motorcycle accidents and an additional 2,500 people are injured every year. Although Wisconsin enforces partial helmet laws, Steve Caya encourages all motorcyclists to practice safe driving. If you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident, do not hesitate to call Attorney Caya. The aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be frightening and Steve Caya, an experienced Janesville attorney and avid biker, will help you navigate the appropriate legal steps after a motorcycle accident.