By CAROL HOPKINS
Of The Oakland Press
The Michigan Senate already approved the measure to repeal the helmet law, and Wednesday the House approved a repeal of the existing law.
The bill would allow riders 21 or older to go without helmets if they meet certain insurance and experience conditions. The measure approved by a 69-39 vote would allow riders 21 or older to go without helmets if they meet certain insurance and experience conditions.
Riders must have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years or have passed a safety course to go without helmets.
The House bill calls for motorcyclists to have at least $20,000 of first party medical benefits coverage in the event they are involved in an accident.
The bill returns to the Senate, which already has passed the bill in a similar form. If the Senate agrees with the House-backed changes, the legislation would be sent to Gov. Rick Snyder.
If supporters of the helmet repeal want the measure to become law, they may have to pass other proposals pending in the Legislature that would change elements of Michigan’s auto insurance laws.
The issue drew strong reactions from readers commenting online.
“There is a reason they refer to them as ‘brain buckets,’” wrote Jule Oliver. “We ride and it’s just part of the equipment, (as with) a race car driver or astronaut. Neither could participate in the sport without a helmet. It’s just stupid to ride without one. It’s got nothing to do with politics. They save lives!”
Some resented the Legislature’s stepping on rights.
“If you’re over 18 you should be able to choose whether or not you wear one,” said Joshua Bennett. “Personally I wouldn’t ride without one but I don’t think the government should be telling me either way.”
Gary Julie Ferris Hegedus said helmets are worn in this family, adding, “Most accidents are caused by the other driver. Studies found a helmet made no difference.”
Michael Abbott said deciding the helmet debate was a “tough call.”
He said, “I think common sense tells us helmets create a safer riding experience. We pay taxes to build the road and using the roads is a privilege, not a right. Therefore I do agree that the government has the authority to dictate helmet usage on the public roads.”
Some referenced the problem hospitals face when injured helmetless riders who have no insurance come into the emergency room.
“If the state ends (the helmet law), then insurance companies should have the right to refuse claims on (those accidents),” said Kris Marrs.
Abbott said, “The hospitals will end up passing along the higher costs to the rest of us.”
Brian Kitchin said helmet laws are in principal the same as seat belt laws.
“The government is now in the healthcare business and they can limit your freedoms in the name of risk versus cost.”
A reader named ndc said those who go without helmets should “sign a waiver that they will refuse medical treatment in case of an accident.”
FTW wrote, “Let those who ride decide.”
Christine Page stated, “If you are in your car minding your own business at a complete stop and one of these ‘freedom-loving’ helmetless motorcyclists without insurance runs into the back end of your car and ends up in a vegetative state, YOUR INSURANCE has to pay for his or her care. Now do you still want them to not wear a helmet?
The Associated Press contributed to this report.