Column: Snyder's motives in repealing motorcycle helmet law questionable
Governor Rick Snyder let his "dog years” get ahead of him when he repealed the motorcycle helmet law. I fully expect that after he leaves office, if not before, he will wish he had a do-over on this decision.
It is clear wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle prevents serious injuries and saves lives.
It is interesting to note that Gov. Snyder picked a haunting day, Friday, April 13, to sign the bill allowing motorcycle riders to cruise with their locks flowing freely. It may be a day that will come to haunt him.
I love freedom as much as the next person, and feel the government can involve itself in too many aspects of our lives, but believe it is sensible and reasonable for the government to protect people from spattering their brains along the public byways.
I remember resenting mandatory seat belt usage when that law passed. Yet clearly, it is sensible and good public policy that has prevented countless serious injuries and deaths.
Did the governor gladly sign the helmet repeal law today for another vote on a controversial piece of legislation tomorrow? Would the governor be so crass as to play, “let's make a deal,” a good old-fashioned political horse trade?
Would he? Certainly he would not be the first politician to trade good politics for bad public policy. But clearly, the signing of this bill might make a reasonable person question his motives.
With three months of data under our belts since Gov. Snyder signed the helmet repeal law the trend line does not look good. According to a new MLive Media Group analysis a higher percentage of motorcycle riders involved in Michigan crashes are not wearing helmets, and they are suffering a higher rate of serious and fatal injuries than those who do.
The longtime sensible voice of AAAÂ¹s Nancy Cain fears the “Lack of a helmet law will ultimately drive up deaths and serious injuries on Michigan roadways.”
The government has a responsibility to protect us, even from ourselves.
The governor claims to be driven by metrics and data. He has a dashboard to keep track of how the state is doing on benchmarks of performance. As the data is bearing out, signing this legislation was a bad bet.
Scott Shoup, a motorcycle enthusiast and board member of the SMARTER rider-responsiblity group (www.smarter-usa.org), said he continues to wear a full-faced helmet for safety and calls for the reinstatement of Michigan's helmet law.
Shoup is not surprised by the latest injury and death statistics. He and his organization predicted it. They testify to the Michigan legislature that the repeal of the helmet law will result in an increase of deaths, injuries and monetary and non-monetary quality-of-life costs.
The research is undeniable, overwhelming, clear and easy to find: helmets help prevent injury and death.
On some issues, just because you have the power does not mean you have to use it.
This new law is going to cost people their lives and families a lifetime of grief. Sadly, as we are witnessing — it is just a matter of time.
Injury and death statistics will be the measure to determine just how bad the decision to repeal the motorcycle helmet law truly is. The data is deadly.
Tom Watkins served as a former state mental health director, state superintendent of schools and is currently a U.S./China consultant. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.