- Motorcycles, Sports Bikes & Riding
Michigan Passes No Helmet Law for Bikers, but Seat Belts Must Still Be Worn
© by Jennifer McLeod writing as jenjen0703, all rights reserved.
Helmets vs. Seat Belts: Should There Be a Choice?
It was an interesting sight the first time I witnessed motorcyclists were riding around without wearing their helmets in the town I live in.
When I was a child, my parents were avid bikers. I remember hearing other bikers sharing their envy towards riders in other states who were allowed to ride motorcycles without helmets. I understood why they felt that way but wondered why they would want to risk being in an accident, and their bodies bouncing off concrete after flying off their motorcycles.
So, if Michigan approved bikers to not wear helmets, why are we Michiganders still required to wear seat belts? Yes, they save lives, but so do helmets. Wearing a seat belt is awkward and uncomfortable, too. The shoulder strap becomes uncomfortable, rubbing on your neck and collarbone, and I do not care for wearing seat belts, either.
When I was a child, seat belt usage was not required. Honestly, when I was a baby, my mother used to put me in a laundry basket that was wedged between the front and back seat of the car.
Today, if you get pulled over by the police in Michigan, and they cite you for not wearing a seat belt, it will cost $65 to pay the citation for each person not wearing one.
Michigan Passes New Helmet Law
On April 13, 2012, Governor Rick Snyder passed a new law that states some motorcyclists do not have to wear helmets while riding their motorcycles. There ares certain criteria that bikers must meet in order to be a "free rider".
- Biker must be at least 21 years of age.
- Must provide proof of insurance.
- Motorcyclist must have additional training.
Many motorcyclists were pleased with Governor Snyder's decision. Some bikers will probably never wear a helmet again. Others are happy to be able to have a choice to not wear one but would still wear one most of the time. And, there are still some who wear their helmets faithfully.
Your Opinion Matters
Would you prefer to ride motorcycles with or without a helmet?
What Do You Think?
Should people who drive automobiles be required to wear seat belts?
Reasons to Wear a Helmet
There are several pros to wearing helmets when riding a motorcycle:
- Helmets protect the skull and brain from injury in an accident.
- Full-faced helmets, with a visor, prevent bugs and debris from hitting a rider in the face.
- Tinted face shields can help protect the eyes from UVA/UVB rays found in the sunlight.
- Helmets prevent hair from becoming tangled from the wind.
It is a good idea to wear a helmet if any of these issues are bothersome for you.
Reasons to NOT Wear a Helmet
Many bikers complain of having to wear helmets. Despite evidence suggesting that wearing a helmet can save a rider's life in an accident, some reasons why motorcyclists complain include:
- Hair becomes sweaty and mashed down and after wearing a helmet for long periods of time.
- Visors on the full-faced helmets can become foggy if the rider is sweating.
- The strap and clasp that holds the helmet on can be annoying and feel tight under the riders chin.
- The extra weight of the helmet can cause neck pain and headaches after long periods of time.
- Not wearing a helmet decreases blind spots in biker's line of vision.
True Stories to Think About
Mopeds do not go as fast as motorcycles, but they can reach a top speed of nearly 40 miles per hour. In June 2008, I was involved in a moped accident. I was wearing a full-faced helmet with a visor. It was late at night, and I was extremely tired and kept nodding off. I stopped the moped three times so I could walk around and wake up some. This did not work.
After the third stop, I continued on with my journey. I finally nodded off enough to veer into the path of a row of mailboxes. I smacked them with my face and was later told I knocked several of them oer. I woke up nine hours later in a private room in the hospital.
The doctors told me if I hadn't been wearing the helmet, I would probably be dead. Despite the fact that I wore the helmet, I suffered a severe concussion, as well as several broken bones in my face, resulting in having to spend two weeks in bed rest.
If you are one of the motorcyclists who is not wearing a helmet in Michigan, use caution while riding. Follow the laws of the road. Do not race other riders. Be defensive while riding, and pay attention to what is going on around you.
It is a good idea to wear a helmet if you are riding your motorcycle on main highways or other roads that have a high speed limit. If you are just cruising around town, where the speed limits are 35 miles per hour or less, consider those types of rides as times for not wearing your helmet.
And most importantly, BE SAFE!