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The impact of Michigan's partial repeal of the universal motorcycle helmet law on helmet use, fatalities, and head injuries

Carter, Patrick M.; Buckley, Lisa; Flannagan, Carol A.C.; Cicchino, Jessica B.; Hemmila, Mark; Bowman, Patrick J.; Almani, Farideh; Bingham, C. Raymond
American Journal of Public Health
January 2017

Objectives: To evaluate the impact of the partial repeal of Michigan's universal motorcycle helmet law on helmet use, fatalities, and head injuries.
Methods: We compared helmet use rates and motorcycle crash fatality risk for the 12 months before and after the April 13, 2012, repeal with a statewide police-reported crash data set. We linked police-reported crashes to injured riders in a statewide trauma registry. We compared head injury before and after the repeal. Regression examined the effect of helmet use on fatality and head injury risk.
Results: Helmet use decreased in crash (93.2% vs 70.8%; P < .001) and trauma data (91.1% vs 66.2%; P < .001) after the repeal. Although fatalities did not change overall (3.3% vs 3.2%; P = .87), head injuries (43.4% vs 49.6%; P < .05) and neurosurgical intervention increased (3.7% vs 6.5%; P < .05). Male gender (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.65), helmet nonuse (AOR = 1.84), alcohol intoxication (AOR = 11.31), intersection crashes (AOR = 1.62), and crashes at higher speed limits (AOR = 1.04) increased fatality risk. Helmet nonuse (AOR = 2.31) and alcohol intoxication (AOR = 2.81) increased odds of head injury.
Conclusions: Michigan's helmet law repeal resulted in a 24% to 27% helmet use decline among riders in crashes and a 14% increase in head injury.