Sunday, July 1, 2007

Are You a AAA Customer? You might want to reconsider!

Though this story comes out of Michigan, you could easily insert Tennessee since AAA is actively working against "Freedom of Choice" and HB 1283 here as well as most other states where the fight continues. Do you really want to do business with them?

AAA Opposes HB 4749, Which Provides 'Opt-Out' Option for State's Helmet Law

$100 fee makes it OK to go without helmet?

DEARBORN, Mich., June 5 /PRNewswire/ -- In their latest bid to rid
Michigan motorcycle riders of their helmets, special interest groups in
Lansing have proposed an 'opt-out' solution. For a $100 fee, motorcyclists
would have the chance to buy their way out of a helmet. The State House is
expected to consider legislation on Wednesday (June 5).
American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE) conceived the bill,
which would require riders to be 21 years or older, licensed to operate a
motorcycle for at least two years, complete a motorcycle safety course and
have insurance or security of $20,000 for first-party medical benefits in
the event of an accident.
"It's like a 'get out of jail free card,'" said AAA Michigan Community
Safety Services Manager Jack Peet. "Those who can afford the fee don't have
to wear a helmet; everyone else does."
The reality, added Peet, is that no one can afford HB 4749, which would
result in 22 additional fatalities each year, along with 132 more
incapacitating injuries, 610 other injuries and $140 million in added
economic costs to Michigan citizens.
"If the mandatory helmet requirement is repealed or waived through a
fee, there will be a significant increase in severe head injuries and
deaths," said Peet. "Studies show that in a crash, unhelmeted motorcyclists
are three times more likely than helmeted cyclists to suffer traumatic
brain injuries."
In addition, motorcycle crashes account for a disproportionate share of
money paid out of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA), a
fund which is supported by a surcharge on every auto insurance policy in
this state. Although motorcyclists represent 1.7 percent of the assessments
paid into the MCCA, they account for 6.7 percent of all claims reported.
Since its inception in 1978, MCCA has reimbursed member insurers more
than $210 million for 503 motorcycle injury claims exceeding the threshold.
Total reimbursement for all claims exceeds $4.4 billion. If the mandatory
helmet law is repealed, serious injuries to motorcyclists will rise. Since
Michigan's no-fault law allows lifetime benefits for all "reasonable and
necessary" medical costs, the number of claims and the amount paid by the
MCCA to reimburse insurance companies will increase, causing all
policyholders in Michigan to pay more.
The $20,000 first-party medical benefit touted by ABATE, says Peet,
wouldn't begin to cover these catastrophic expenses.
In addition to increased medical costs passed on to taxpayers,
Motorcycle deaths and injuries are on the rise after the repeal of
mandatory helmet laws in Florida, Kentucky and Louisiana. The National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in the three years after
Florida's repeal of its mandatory helmet law in 2000, 933 motorcyclists
were killed, an 81 percent increase.
Another study found that fatalities grew by more than 50 percent in
Kentucky and 100 percent in Louisiana after those states struck down
mandatory helmet laws.
Opponents of the mandatory helmet law believe that it infringes on
individual freedom of choice and the right to privacy. They argue that
individuals who do not wear helmets harm mainly themselves. However, that
is really not the case. The consequences of that person's decision not to
wear a helmet is borne by all of society through higher insurance premiums,
lost productivity and increased health care costs.
In Florida after the helmet law was repealed, the cost of hospital care
for motorcycle injuries grew from $21 million to $44 million in the 30
months after the law changed.
AAA Michigan offers automotive, travel, insurance and financial
services to more than 1.6 million members in Michigan. It is part of The
Auto Club Group (ACG), the largest affiliation of AAA clubs in the Midwest,
with approximately 4.1 million members in eight states. ACG belongs to the
national AAA federation, a not-for-profit organization with more than 50
million members in the United States and Canada.


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