Helmet-Free Motorcyclists Could Help State Budget

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"People have a choice," said Herb Rials. "But in Michigan, they're mandating that you have to wear a helmet."

Rials is a part of the American Bikers Aiming Toward Education, otherwise known as ABATE. He and other members were at the Capitol revved up about a possible change to Michigan's helmet law.

A new proposal was introduced to ease the mandatory helmet law in the House of Representatives. State Representative Barbara Farrah of Southgate sponsored the plan.

"If riders are at least 21 years of age, and carry at least $20,000 in health insurance, you have the option to buy a special permit for a hundred dollars to have the choice to wear a helmet or not," said State Representative Farrah.

Michigan is one of only 20 state where motorcyclists must wear a helmet. All that could change if the new plan passes through the legislature.

"That money that we estimated would generate at least up to $25 million a year, and would go into the general fund," said State Representative Farrah.

According to a 2004 Michigan Consultants study, allowing motorcyclists to be helmet-free could also generate more than $1.2 billion in direct and indirect revenue.

"We definitely miss out on a lot of tourism dollars that are passing right over our state," State Representative Farrah added.

With the budget in a serious crunch, Rials believes helmets are just a start to get back on track.

"I think Michigan is to the point where they need to at least look at every option to raise money," Rials said.

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