AMA News & Notes

Elliot Strong
by Elliot Strong
From the "AMA News & Notes for the Politically Motivated Motorcyclists:"

The AMA, responding to a July 30 press release issued by the InsuranceInstitute for Highway Safety (IIHS), has pointed out significant errors in theIIHS's arguments concerning crashes involving older motorcyclists.

In its release, the IIHS claimed that the annual Black Hills Rally & Racesin Sturgis, South Dakota, serves as a case-in-point illustration of the increasein motorcycle-related fatalities in recent years, notably among riders over age40. Specifically, the IIHS said that 36 of the 69 motorcycle-related fatalitiesin South Dakota between 1995 and 2000 occurred in the month of August, when theSturgis event is held.

However, the IIHS neglected to take into account the enormous increase inthe motorcycling population of South Dakota as a result of the rally, leadingthe group to erroneous conclusions, the AMA noted.

According to figures from the IIHS release, there were six motorcyclistskilled in South Dakota during the month of April over the six-year period, fourin May, seven in June, eight in July, four in September and four in October. Nomotorcycle-related fatalities were recorded from November through March. TheIIHS then said that the 36 motorcyclist fatalities in the month of August duringthe six-year period made it clear that older motorcyclists at the rally wereraising overall fatality numbers in the state.

An AMA analysis of the data, however, shows that the IIHS's conclusion isunsupported by the facts. The AMA pointed out that figures from the MotorcycleIndustry Council for 1998, the middle of the time period cited by the IIHS, showthere were 19,600 motorcycles licensed for street use in South Dakota. Butduring August, when the Black Hills Rally and Races attract riders from acrossthe country, the motorcycling population of the state surges to more than400,000.

The AMA also disputed the IIHS's contention that recent increases in themedian age of motorcyclists who were victims of fatal accidents "isn't becauseof the aging of the population." In fact, according to figures from the MICquoted by the IIHS, the average age of a motorcycle owner in America has risenfrom 24 in 1980 to 38 today. As a result, a much-larger percentage of themotorcycles on the road are being ridden by riders over 40, and that trend isreflected in accident statistics.

In addition, the IIHS stated that changes in helmet laws in some states"are contributing to the increases in motorcycle deaths." But the group failedto note that motorcycle sales have increased by approximately 20 percent in eachof the last four years, meaning that the number of motorcycles on the road hasgrown enormously. Meanwhile, fatalities have increased by about a third duringthe entire four-year period and were actually down by 11 percent in the periodfrom 1990 through 2000 and down by nearly 50 percent since 1980, a better safetyrecord than any other type of highway transportation.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT), with the assistance ofGannett Fleming, Inc., is studying bicycle/motorcycle detection methods atsignalized intersections. The goals of the study are to determine what methodsare being utilized, where they are most appropriate for installation, and theireffectiveness under various conditions. Two major components of the studyinclude a survey of agencies and organizations regarding current practices and afield assessment of several methods.

For further information contact; Doug Tomlinson/ Bill Laubach ,Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, ITS and Congestion ManagementDivision, PO Box 2047, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2047 E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] Phone: 717-787-3657 or Fax:717-783-8012

Illinois Senate Bill 1550, introduced by Senators James Myers ® and MaryO'Daniel (D), was recently signed by Governor George Ryan. The new law amendsthe Illinois Vehicle Code and provides that certain special veterans licenseplates may be issued for motorcycles. Contact the Illinois Secretary of State,Vehicle Services office at 1-800-252-8980 or in Chicago at 312-793-1010 for moreinformation. Or visit them on-line at

Missouri House Bill 1270, sponsored by William (Bill) Gratz (D-ColeCounty), establishing the "Motorcycle Safety Trust Fund" was signed into law byGovernor Bob Holden on July 11, 2002. A portion of the fines for various trafficand criminal violations will be deposited in the Fund for use by the departmentof public safety to finance the state motorcycle safety education program.

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 238, sponsored by Senator Robert Tomlinson(R-Bucks County), is a provision forbidding local ordinances from prohibiting orciting as a violation the parallel or angle occupancy by one or more motorcyclesin any parking space on any highway otherwise available for parking for otherindividual vehicles. Show your support for this bill by writing to your senatorat the Pennsylvania Senate, Capitol Building, Senate Post Office, Harrisburg, PA17120.

Greek police have started a new crackdown, on locals and tourists alike,looking for helmetless riders.Anyone caught riding without a helmet will face the risk of theirmotorcycle being impounded immediately and a walk home after July 8, whenspecial police squads start patrolling the streets of Athens and Attica, hometo several popular tourist spots.

Offenders will also have to visit the traffic police, show that they have ahelmet, and pay 42 Euros to regain their motorcycles (24 Euros for scooters) ontop of a 78 Euro penalty, said police.

Massachusetts House Bill 4099, an act for issuance of handicap decals formotorcyclists who qualify, passed the House of Representatives by a standingvote of 35-0.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for final approval, then to theGovernor.Contact the Senate Policy and Steering Committee, Senator Pamela P. Resor, Room410, State House, (617) 722-1120, e-mail address: [email protected] andask for support of this legislation.

US Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA1) introduced legislation recently that wouldmake nearly 840,000 acres of federal land in Northern California wilderness ifit, and Senate legislation, passes Congress. About half those acres are inHumboldt, Del Norte, Trinity and Siskiyou Counties. Thompson, of Napa,represents California's First District which includes some of the lands includedin the bill. Sentiment from some counties on a similar bill authored by U.S.Sen. Barbara Boxer of California shows staunch opposition to furtherrestrictions on federal property.

The House and Senate versions of the bill aim to place roughly 2.4 millionacres under wilderness protection. Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, has authoredHouse legislation covering about 1.5 million acres in Southern California. Alltold, these actions would jump the percentage of wilderness areas from 13 to16.5 percent of land in California.

Many of the proposed wilderness areas are inventoried roadless areasalready and proponents' claim that no areas legally open to vehicles now will beclosed however AMA remains concerned about the proposed areas due to a lack ofmaps accurately reflecting the composition of the lands being proposed forwilderness designation.

The US Department of Interior appropriations bill was considered by theHouse of Representatives recently, and advocates for access to public lands andprivate property rights won important victories!

Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Chris Shays (R-CT) intended to offer anamendment to prohibit snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park. After seeingthey were going to lose the vote by a large margin, Holt and Shays pulled theamendment from consideration.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) intended to offer an amendment to "codify," or makeinto permanent law, the Clinton Roadless regulations, which would severely limitaccess to public lands and private inholdings. A wave of opposition from publiclands access, private property rights and labor unions concerned with economicdamage built up; when it was clear the amendment would be defeated Inslee topull it off the floor.

AMA vice president for government relations Edward Moreland called onCongress to fund a new in-depth study into the causes of motorcycle crashes, intestimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit recently.

Moreland was testifying on congressional plans to renew the TransportationEquity Act of 1998, which relates to a variety of transportation issues.

In addition to calling for comprehensive research into the causes ofmotorcycle crashes, Moreland asked lawmakers to make motorcycle safety apriority, to include motorcycles in research involving vehiclecollision-avoidance systems, to continue the ban on lobbying at the state andlocal level by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), andto retain provisions in the law that give motorcycles full access to any highwayor portion of a highway that used federal funds for planning, design,construction or maintenance.

Moreland also asked lawmakers to stay away from imposing penalties onstates that don't adopt mandatory helmet-use laws, to require motorcycle parkingin parking facilities built with federal funds, and to establish lower tolls formotorcycles on highways, bridges and tunnels that collect tolls.

Moreland also noted that off-highway riders continue to struggle to gettheir fair share of federal Recreational Trails Program money that goes to buildand maintain motorized and non-motorized trails. Finally, Moreland suggestedthat the law be strengthened to ensure that the NHTSA focuses on crashprevention rather than injury prevention.

For the complete text of Moreland's testimony go to

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a finalrule requiring motor vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers to reportcustomer satisfaction data and certain other information to federal officials.The reporting requirement is to help the NHTSA identify defects related to motorvehicle safety. The rule implements requirements of the Transportation RecallEnhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act which was approved in2000 following problems related to Firestone tires on Ford Explorers.

The notice of the proposed rule stated the regulation would cover, amongother things, "accessory equipment and off-vehicle equipment that is not part ofa motor vehicle, such as retroreflective motorcycle rider apparel and childrestraints."

The AMA told the NHTSA that including motorcycle rider apparel in thereporting requirements appeared to go beyond what Congress intended in approvingthe TREAD Act, and that such a requirement appeared impractical and unworkable.

The AMA also feared that the reporting requirement would create a databasethat could be the first step toward mandatory rider apparel certification anduse.

In releasing the final rule, the federal agency specifically ruled out sucha possibility, stating: "We have not, and we do not, intend to prescribestandards or requirements for motorcycle apparel other than protectiveheadgear... The proposed rule would not, and the final rule does not, controlmotorcycle clothing."

To see the final rule online, go

11 Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) groups filed suit in Fresno, CA federal courtchallenging the Bureau of Land Management's decision to ban vehicles from morethan a million acres of California desert. The organizations charge that theclosures violated federal laws by not allowing public review and comment beforethe bureau's decision was made.

San Diego attorney David P. Hubbard, who filed the lawsuit, said in aninterview that the organizations had exhausted administrative appeals beforefiling the complaint for an injunction.

The land in question covers much of the Mojave's desert region and includesfederal, state and private acreage. It was supposed to be a temporary closingwhile the BLM developed new plans for the area, Hubbard said, but it is notknown when the final plans will be finished.

The BLM decision grew out of another lawsuit in federal court in SanFrancisco in which the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and PublicEmployees for Environmental Responsibility contended the BLM had violated theEndangered Species Act and failed to protect animal species in the desert areas.

That decision, which involved protection of the Desert Tortoise, alsoeffectively closed the million acres of desert to OHV recreation, the complaintfiled Friday charges.

The lawsuit seeks a judgment or injunction barring the BLM closures withoutfirst conducting an environmental review and involving public participation.

The plaintiffs include the American Motorcycle Association District 37Sports Committee; the Americans for Forest Access; Backcountry Horsemen ofCalifornia Inc.; Blue Ribbon Coalition; California Off-Road Vehicle Association;California State Horsemen's Association; Coalition of Off-Road Desert Racers;High Desert Multiple Use Coalition; Los Pretot's Desert Club; Off-Road BusinessAssociation; and San Diego Off-Road Coalition.

In addition to the BLM, the complaint names the Department of the Interiorand Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton as defendants. (The Fresno Bee)

News & Notes for the Politically Motivated Motorcyclists is a monthly servicecompiled and edited by the AMA Government Relations Staff to keep motorcyclistsinformed of happenings around the world. We welcome your news & views. Pleasesubmit all material to Terry Lee Cook, Government Relations Specialist, 13515Yarmouth Drive, Pickerington, OH 43147; fax 614-856-1920 or e-mail to [email protected]

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