Bikers want lawmakers to leave helmet law alone - WNEM TV 5

Bikers want lawmakers to leave helmet law alone

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MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) -

Bikers plan to gather in Lansing to tell lawmakers to leave the helmet law alone.

Members of the motorcycle rights group, Abate of Michigan, pushed to change the law in 2012.

On Wednesday they'll ride on the Capitol as a reminder they want it to stay as it is.

Under the current law a rider must be 21-years-old to legally ride without a helmet, have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits and have either two years riding experience or pass an approved safety course.

The latest police and medical data shows there may be a cost to riding without protection. It shows a rise in the number of injuries, fatalities and medical costs since helmets haven't been required.

"I think it causes a lot more injuries when they ain't wearing a helmet," said James Reynolds, biker.

He loves to ride his motorcycle and he's been riding it with a helmet on for 35 years. He continues to do so even after the repeal of the state's mandatory helmet law back in 2012.

Some medical experts found higher mortality and medical costs among riders involved in crashes while not wearing a helmet.

Reynolds said even though he chooses to wear one, he understands why people don't.

"It's that freedom, not having someone tell you what to do," he said.

That freedom has its consequences, according to Michigan State Police. They said the death toll is on the rise when it comes to non-helmet riders.

In 2015 the state had 138 people die in motorcycle crashes alone, the highest since 1985.

Bonnie Kelly said helmets are too restricting and said she feels safer without one on.

"It's just like anything else that you have a choice about. I think we should have that choice. I choose not to wear a helmet," Kelly said.

Many medical experts said there is plenty of evidence that wearing a helmet is the safer choice. They said the average hospital cost for a non-helmet wearing rider is about 32 percent higher than those who wear helmets.

Al Slenk said he believes riders should be able to make their own choices, but said he will always put one on.

"It's like you are doing something naughty if you don't wear one, but I imagine deaths are going to go up if you don't wear them," he said.

Reynolds said no matter what the law is his safety comes first.

"That's the first thing I do, I get on the bike and I put the helmet on," he said.

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