Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Helmet Law Repeal One Year Later

My post about the repeal of Michigan’s decades-old motorcycle helmet law by Twit Governor Rick Snyder in April 2012 (“Now We Can Ride without Helmets or Sense,” April 13, 2012) is for some reason the most-viewed post in “What’s the Diehl?” history.

I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I referred to Snyder as “an idiot who’s not above pandering to the knuckle-dragging segment of Michigan’s population.”

Perhaps it’s because I lamented Michigan’s devolution from a haven of sound public policy to what it’s become: the Mississippi of the Midwest (minus the catfish or teenage pregnancies).

It might even be because I included a photo of dim-witted actor Gary Busey, who famously suffered brain damage after being in a motorcycle accident during which he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

For whatever reason, this post has received almost 10,000 page views. Lots of people have seen the sobering statistics I posted – obtained from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – and learned that I expect this repeal to prove not just short-sighted but deadly.

And now it has.

The Office of Highway Safety says motorcycle fatalities were up 18 percent last year, from 109 in 2011 to 129 in 2012. (By comparison, overall traffic deaths increased a more modest 5.3 percent according to the Michigan State Police.) And researchers at the University of Michigan estimate “there would have been 26 fewer deaths and 49 fewer serious injuries in Michigan last year if all riders had worn helmets.”

There are now calls to restore the law; this restoration is supported by none other than the Detroit News - a mouthpiece for conservatives in what’s essentially a Blue State (although you wouldn’t know it by looking at who currently controls Lansing) – which declared in an April 25 op-ed that “it is reasonable for the government to protect people from spattering their brains along the public byways.” (The piece was authored by Tom Watkins, a friend and former state official who served under both Republicans and Democrats.)

Watkins is not alone. A coalition that includes the Michigan Nurses Association, the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the Michigan Osteopathic Association, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, the Michigan State Medical Society, the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association and a number of insurance companies want lawmakers and the governor to reverse their egregious error.

(Click here to read “Medical and insurance coalition urges lawmakers to repeal law allowing helmetless motorcyclists” and here for’s extensive special coverage of the issue.)

Did I mention that a majority of thinking adults were opposed to the repeal in the first place? A 2012 EPIC/MRA poll found that 70 percent of state voters supported requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. (Previous surveys had come to the same conclusion.) Snyder and lawmakers had access to these polls; they chose to ignore the will of the people yet again. And more families have had to bury or hospitalize loved ones as a result.

I won’t say we told you so.

P.S. Interestingly, one of those who commented on the post suggested I keep my political views to myself and said he or she “stopped reading after your pathetic ranting.” Telling a political blogger to keep his opinions to himself is kind of like telling President Obama to stop reading from a teleprompter. It’s what we do.

P.P.S. From what I’ve seen online, the pro-repeal folks seem to share characteristics with Second Amendment zombies: it’s about freedom to do what we want, they demand, and impacts on society be damned. There’s just no communicating with some people.

Cool helmet photos courtesy Amazing Material.

Sources:, Detroit News, PRNewswire,

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