American Motorcyclist Association ramps up ‘Vote Like A Motorcyclist’ campaign

The AMA wants you to "Vote like a motorcyclist"

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has ramped up its “Vote Like a Motorcyclist” campaign with T-shirts, pins and posters to supplement its new 2010 AMA Voter Guide.

“The elections on Nov. 2 are some of the most important in many years for the future of motorcycling,” said Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations. “It’s critical for motorcyclists to get out and vote to help protect their right to ride.”

A major tool available to AMA members this campaign season is the online 2010 AMA Voter Guide — the first national voter guide of its kind for the motorcycling community. It features a fuel-gauge rating for every federal and gubernatorial candidate of the major political parties who returned an AMA questionnaire. The rating shows how closely the candidates’ answers align with AMA positions.

The 2010 AMA Voter Guide is available to AMA members in the Members Area of the AMA website at AmericanMotorcyclist.com. Riders who wish to join the AMA and utilize the guide can do so at the AMA website. To join, click here.

Moreland noted that during this political season it’s important to remind fellow riders to think before they vote, and to vote like a motorcyclist. One way to do that is by wearing a “Vote Like A Motorcyclist” T-shirt while out for a ride, hanging with riding buddies or while picking up parts at a dealership.

It’s also a visible reminder to non-riders and candidates that motorcyclists vote.

“Vote Like A Motorcyclist” T-shirts cost just $21.95. Posters range in price from $11.20 to $22.45, depending on size, and pins are $2.20.

Gear up with “Vote Like A Motorcyclist” items at http://www.zazzle.com/americanmotorcyclist.

And don’t forget to vote on Nov. 2!


Are We Heading to A Mandatory National Helmet Law?

Victory Cross Country

The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told a congressional panel on Sept. 28 that he wants to work with Congress to promote helmet use among motorcyclists across the United States.

Addressing the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said that to reduce motorcycling fatalities “the most important step we could take would be to assure that all riders wear a DOT-compliant helmet, which are 37 percent effective in reducing fatalities.

“We estimate that helmets prevented over 1,800 fatalities in 2008, and that more than 800 additional fatalities could have been avoided if all riders wore helmets,” he said. “NHTSA will actively work with Congress to promote helmet use.”

Strickland’s comments were part of his overall testimony regarding how safety provisions in the transportation reauthorization bill (SAFETEA-LU) played a role in reducing highway fatalities.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is concerned that Strickland may be recommending that Congress try to pressure states into passing mandatory helmet-use laws. In the past, Congress tried to force states to approve such laws by withholding federal transportation and safety dollars to states without mandatory helmet laws.

The AMA supports states’ rights to determine their helmet policies free from the threat of federal sanctions. Congress affirmed this right as recently as 1995 in the National Highway System Act, when lawmakers removed federal penalties placed on states that didn’t have mandatory helmet laws.

“The AMA believes that the best way for the NHTSA to reduce motorcycle crashes is through programs such as rider education and increasing motorcycle awareness among vehicle drivers,” said Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations. “These programs would help reduce the likelihood that a crash will happen in the first place.”

In addition, said Moreland, motorcyclists would be much better served by applying any funding that may go toward requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets to the national motorcycle crash causation study that is currently under way at Oklahoma State University.

This is a sentiment supported by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and many of his congressional colleagues through recently introduced H. Res. 1498: Supporting Efforts to Retain the Ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Ability to Lobby State Legislators Using Federal Tax Dollars and Urging the NHTSA to Focus on Crash Prevention and Rider Education and Training.

To urge your U.S. representative to support H. Res. 1498, and to ask your U.S. Senators to prevent the NHTSA from focusing on federal helmet-mandate legislation and, instead, employ proven strategies to reduce motorcycle crashes from occurring in the first place, go to AmericanMotorcyclist.com > Rights >  Issues & Legislation, then enter your zip code in the “Find your Officials” box.


Motorcycle Deaths Decrease in 2009

Fewer Motorcyclists Die in 2009

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — In what can only be considered good news for motorcyclists, federal officials have reported that motorcycling deaths on the nation’s roads dropped by 16 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year, according to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).

“The death of any motorcyclist is one too many, so this news that fatalities are down is encouraging,” said Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations. “While we are pleased that the number of motorcycling fatalities dropped dramatically in 2009, a one-year drop isn’t a trend. We need to determine why, and ensure that the decline continues.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported on Sept. 9 that motorcycling fatalities in 2009 decreased for the first time in more than a decade — dropping to 4,462 in 2009 from 5,312 in 2008. (Click here to read the press release from NHTSA.)

Federal officials said traffic deaths involving all vehicles nationwide fell 9.7 percent in 2009 — from 37,423 in 2008 to 33,808. The figure is the lowest since 1950. Traffic safety officials said that the decrease may be due to increased seat belt use, tougher enforcement of drunk driving laws and improved vehicle safety features.

According to NHTSA figures, motorcycling fatalities have decreased in the past — from 1980 to 1997 — but then fatalities increased steadily for 11 years. 2,294 motorcyclists were killed in 1998, and the number of fatalities rose each subsequent year, reaching 5,312 in 2008.

Moreland cautioned that there will be speculation about why motorcycling fatalities are down so significantly in 2009, and noted that there aren’t any solid answers.

“The motorcycling community looks forward to receiving some real answers about motorcycle crashes and what causes them from the new federal crash causation study that is under way at Oklahoma State University (OSU) through the Oklahoma Transportation Center in Stillwater,” Moreland said. “Then we can put our heads together to find solutions, reduce crashes and save more lives.”

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is overseeing the just-begun, four-year, $3 million OSU study, which is the first major research on the subject in 30 years.

The last major study into the causes of motorcycle crashes was issued in January 1981. Called “Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures Volume I: Technical Report,” the study became known as the “Hurt Report,” named after lead researcher Hugh “Harry” Hurt of the University of Southern California. Hurt was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007 for his pioneering work.

That study provided a wealth of data that has been used by organizations and individual motorcyclists to help keep riders safer on the road. But the traffic environment has changed enormously in the decades since, prompting the AMA to begin campaigning for a new study several years ago.

About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world’s largest motorcycling rights organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists’ interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, please visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com.


NHTSA Funds Motorcycle Only Checkpoints

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — A federal traffic safety agency is offering law enforcement agencies hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up checkpoints that target only motorcyclists, and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) wants to know why.

The AMA has asked the agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to suspend the grant program until questions raised by the motorcycling community are addressed.

“How do motorcycle-only checkpoints increase the safety of motorcyclists?” Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations, wrote in a letter to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland on Aug. 9. “Where do the selected states draw their authority to conduct” motorcycle-only safety checks?

“Will ‘probable cause’ be required to stop a motorcycle under the terms of this grant program?” Moreland asked. “If so, what will constitute probable cause?”

Under its Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration grant program, the NHTSA will award up to $350,000 in total to be divided among as many as five law enforcement agencies to set up traffic checkpoints that target motorcyclists.

The demonstration program is modeled after a controversial program in New York where the state police set up a series of checkpoints that targeted only motorcyclists, raising the ire of the AMA and motorcycling community. In 2008, for example, New York State Police announced plans to set up 15 checkpoints near motorcycling events that summer.

The AMA questioned the potential discriminatory and legal nature of the program and sent a list of questions for clarification to the New York State Police. To date, New York authorities have not responded.

Moreland said that if the NHTSA is truly interested in motorcyclist safety, it should fund proven programs that help prevent crashes — rather than checkpoints that single out motorcyclists.

“The primary source of motorcycle safety is in motorcycle crash prevention, and NHTSA should focus on decreasing the likelihood of crashes from occurring in the first place,” Moreland said.

The AMA urges all riders to contact Strickland and ask that the discriminatory Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration grant program be suspended until questions raised by the motorcycling community are addressed.

The easiest way to do that is to go to the AMA website at AmericanMotorcyclist.com > Rights > Issues & Legislation