Sponsor of Michigan repeal of motorcycle helmet law dies in motorcycle crash

MONTMORENCY COUNTY, Mich. — The sponsor of the law to repeal Michigan’s mandatory helmet law was killed Monday night in a motorcycle crash, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Michigan Rep. Peter Petalia, via GOPHouse.org

Michigan State Rep. Peter Petalia, via GOPHouse.org

State Rep. Peter Petalia, R-Presque Isle, was an outspoken motorcycle advocate who led the effort in 2012 to repeal the state’s helmet requirement for motorcyclists. He also chaired the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Authorities did not provide many details regarding the crash, saying only that Petalia, 61, died when his motorcycle broadsided a pickup truck on M-33 in northern Michigan. They noted that Petalia was wearing a helmet at the time.

While Petalia died even with a helmet, his death highlights the overall risk of riding a motorcycle.

Proponents of helmet laws have noted that in the four years since the repeal, the number of people killed in motorcycle crashes averaged 126, up from 112 in the years from 2000 to 2011. By those numbers, that’s a total of 56 additional deaths since the law’s repeal.

2015 was the deadliest year for Michigan motorcyclists dating back to 1985 at 138 deaths.

A 2016 study by The American Journal of surgery found, of 345 crash victims brought to a Grand Rapids hospital, 10 percent of riders not wearing helmets died, compared to 3 percent for those who did wear a helmet.

Michigan is one of 28 states that do not require all motorcyclists to wear helmets; Kansas is another. Missouri does have a universal helmet law.