Maybe. But should that really be the right question when it comes to the safety of motorcycle riders? In New Jersey, state law mandates that all those who ride motorcycles must wear a DOT approved helmet. Each year in the Garden State, 2500 motorcycles are involved in accidents, resulting in at least 50 fatalities.
But recently in Michigan, the group called American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE) authored a bill which was introduced to the State House which would allow motorcyclists to forego wearing a helmet when they ride as long as riders pay a $100 fee, are at least 21 years old, are licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years, have completed a motorcycle safety course and have insurance or security of $20,000 for first-party medical benefits in the event of an accident.
ABATE believes that wearing a helmet infringes on individual freedom of choice and the right to privacy. While that may be arguably true, if you look at the other states that have repealed mandatory helmet laws, Florida, Kentucky and Louisiana, and you see the exponential rise in injuries and deaths to motorcyclists following the repeal of their helmet laws, you’d have to agree that the interest in keeping the public safe, with something so easy as wearing a helmet is extremely compelling.
In a recent article in Insurance Journal about the Michigan law, 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.