Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016
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Bad call on helmets

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was elected two years ago on a platform of common-sense solutions to such issues as rising health-care costs. This month, he did something that makes no sense.

The governor ignored pleas from insurers, public-health lobbyists, and other advocates, and signed a bill that allows adult motorcyclists to ride without helmets. The governor offered no clear explanation, but there were disturbing signs that he was pandering to Lansing's liquor lobby and to the right wing of his Republican Party in the Legislature.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning estimates that repealing the state's helmet law will mean another 30 deaths and 127 incapacitating injuries each year. In some of these cases, lifetime care is sure to cost millions of dollars, which eventually will mean higher health expenses for all Michiganians.

A lobbyist for the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association said the state had to repeal its helmet law so that out-of-state bikers would be more inclined to zip across the border to buy liquor on their bikes. That sounds like even a worse idea.

Mr. Snyder pledged to move away from the conventional politics of backroom deals and promised not to sell out his constituents. The new law fails on all counts. It requires motorcyclists to carry $20,000 worth of insurance before they ride without helmets, but that amount likely would buy no more than a few hours of intensive medical care.

If some of Governor Snyder's fans are disillusioned today, he has only himself to blame.

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