Snyder should weigh facts and veto state’s motorcycle helmet law repeal

Guest Editorial
Gov. Rick Snyder does not like to be dragged into debates over issues that are not critical to Michigan’s future: responsible government, public safety, schools and so on. To watch the latest attempt to repeal Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law, we can understand why.

As they have done in past legislative sessions, supporters of a repeal have succeeded in pushing their cause to the governor’s desk. They are the definition of a special interest: a lobby seeking to protect motorcyclists’ right to kill themselves on the open road.

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed this legislation. Even if it provokes some hurt feelings from within his Republican Party, Snyder should do the same.

The current governor has abundant reasons to preserve Michigan’s current requirement that motorcyclists wear basic protection. He could draw a parallel to our state’s seat-belt law for drivers and passengers of vehicles with far more protection than motorcycles. He could seek a moral basis, that even one death that could have been easily prevented is one too many.

Or he could draw on the facts. The Insurance Institute of Michigan, which opposes the helmet law repeal, has collected data about the impact of the law in Michigan — and in other states that already have repealed such laws.

Consider this observation from the insurance group:

“Motorcycle deaths and injuries are on the rise after the repeal of mandatory helmet laws in Florida, Kentucky and Louisiana. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in the three years after Florida’s repeal of its mandatory helmet law in 2000, 933 motorcyclists were killed, an 81 percent increase. Another study found that fatalities grew by more than 50 percent in Kentucky and 100 percent in Louisiana after those states struck down mandatory helmet laws.”

We know the benefits of Michigan’s law. We can observe and calculate the costs of repealing this law, based on what other states have done. Is there any reason for Snyder to ignore facts and give in to a weak argument in favor of motorcyclists’ freedom?

We certainly hope not. We strongly encourage the governor to veto this legislation and get back to the more important parts of his agenda.