Motorcycle deaths, injuries cost $16 billion

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012
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Earlier this year, Michigan legislators repealed that state's helmet requirement for motorcyclists over 21. Other proposals to repeal mandatory helmet laws were considered in California, Maryland, Missouri and Tennessee.

While many motorcycle groups endorse the use of helmets, they also oppose mandatory helmet laws as infringements on personal liberties and their right to assume the risk of riding without a helmet, the report said.

"We are 100 percent pro-helmet, and 100 percent anti-helmet law," Jeff Hennie, vice president of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, said. "Putting a helmet law in place does not reduce motorcycle fatalities."

Educating other motorists to look out for motorcyclists, and teaching motorcyclists how to ride safely, "is the ultimate solution for saving lives," he said.

But Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which supports mandatory helmet laws, said: "Education is not a substitute for wearing a helmet."

"It's like saying if you take a driver's ed class, you don't have to wear your seat belt," she said. "Now how silly is that?"

Partial helmet laws are also difficult to enforce because it's hard for police to tell the age of motorcyclists as they go whizzing by, she said.

The National Transportation Safety Board dropped mandatory helmet laws from their list of ten "most wanted" safety improvements earlier this month, angering some safety advocates.

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Online:

Government Accountability Office report http://gao.gov/products/GAO-13-42

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Follow Joan Lowy at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy



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