Lawmakers Question Motorcycle Checkpoints

Congressmen ask to suspend NHTSA program

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Oct. 01, 2010
Several members of the U.S. Congress are asking Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to suspend a grant program for motorcycle-only checkpoints.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) drafted a letter to LaHood expressing concerns about the National Highway Traffic Administration’s $350,000 grant program for law enforcement agencies to set up traffic checkpoints that specifically target motorcyclists.

The letter, dated. Sept. 30,  was signed by Sensenbrenner as well as Representatives Thomas Petri (R-Wis.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), Lee Terry (R-Neb.), Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.).

In the letter, the representatives say the money invested in the grant program would be better spent on crash prevention programs and crash causation studies. The letter concedes the checkpoints will help crack down on secondary safety issues such as DOT-approved helmet compliance, tailpipe standards and motorcycle modifications but does little to help prevent crashes.

“Crash prevention must be the primary source of safety,” the letter reads. “We do not understand why NHTSA continues to focus on secondary factors that do not prevent crashes.”

The representatives are asking LaHood to suspend the grant and produce information demonstrating how these checkpoints are helping to prevent crashes.

The American Motorcyclist Association supports Sensenbrenner’s letter.

“The AMA believes that the best way for NHTSA to reduce motorcycle crashes is to employ proven strategies, such as rider education and motorcycle awareness programs, that decrease the likelihood of crashes from ever occurring,” says Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations. “These strategies must be research-based, and motorcyclists would be much better served by applying the funding to the national motorcycle crash causation study that is currently underway at Oklahoma State University.”

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Read the full text of the letter
NHTSA Sponsors Motorcycle-only Checkpoints