The number of motorcycle riders wearing helmets is on the decline, following a change in Michigan law last year.
“We had almost 100 percent helmet use with the prior law, and now we’re down to about 73 percent,” said Anne Readett with the state Office of Highway Safety Planning.
Michigan law now allows riders 21 or older to forego the helmet, as long as they have purchased an extra $20,000 in medical benefits. They also must have held a motorcycle endorsement for at least two years, or passed an approved motorcycle safety course.
Readett says some riders are more likely to wear a helmet than others.
“Women are more likely to wear a helmet than men,” she said. “Those riding sport bikes are far more likely to wear helmets than those riding choppers or custom bikes, and riders who are over 60 are more likely to wear a helmet than younger riders.”
Readett also says it’s too early to draw a link between motorcycle injuries and fatalities and the change in Michigan law.
“If we have a particularly cold summer, a particularly rainy summer, people will certainly ride less because of those two things,” she said. “So it can vary from year to year based on some outside influences, so we’re really going to need a good couple of years of data to start drawing some conclusions that we feel more certain of.”
Michigan’s mandatory helmet law was repealed in the spring of 2012.