Federal lawmakers oppose state lobbying by safety agency

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and his colleagues introduced House Resolution 239 on May 2 to retain the ban on state and local lobbying by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The bi-partisan resolution instead urges the agency to focus on motorcycle crash prevention as the first step in motorcycle safety. The date of the bill’s introduction is significant because May is traditionally recognized as Motorcycle Awareness Month. To date, others supporting the resolution include Reps. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Ron Paul (R-Texas), Tom Petri (R-Wis.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) andBarney Frank (D-Mass.).

If approved, the resolution sends a clear message to the federal agency that it shouldn’t lobby state or local jurisdictions for mandatory helmet laws. The anti-lobbying language was originally written into the Transportation Equity Act approved by Congress in 1998. The resolution says the House “supports efforts to retain the ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) ability to lobby state legislators using federal tax dollars, encourages continued growth in the motorcyclist community, and encourages owners and riders to be responsible road users.”

The resolution also notes that the House “recognizes the importance of motorcycle crash prevention as the primary source of motorcycle safety [and] encourages NHTSA to focus on motorcycle crash prevention and rider education as the most significant priorities in motorcycle safety.” Sen. Brenner introduced a similar resolution last year.

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 its support of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, please visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com.

 

U.S. lawmakers want agency to focus on motorcycle crash prevention

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — U.S. lawmakers want a federal traffic safety agency to concentrate on motorcycle crash prevention and rider education — instead of trying to lobby state lawmakers to enact mandatory helmet laws, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and his colleagues plan to introduce a resolution May 2 in support of continuing a ban on state and local lobbying by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The resolution urges the agency to focus on motorcycle crash prevention as the first step in motorcycle safety.

May is traditionally Motorcycle Awareness Month.

To date, others supporting the resolution include Reps. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Ron Paul (R-Texas), Tom Petri (R-Wis.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.).

If approved, the resolution would send a clear message to the NHTSA that it shouldn’t lobby state or local jurisdictions for mandatory helmet laws. The anti-lobbying language was originally written into the Transportation Equity Act approved by Congress in 1998.

The resolution states that the House “supports efforts to retain the ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) ability to lobby state legislators using federal tax dollars, encourages continued growth in the motorcyclist community, and encourages owners and riders to be responsible road users.”

The resolution also says that the House “recognizes the importance of motorcycle crash prevention as the primary source of motorcycle safety (and) encourages NHTSA to focus on motorcycle crash prevention and rider education as the most significant priorities in motorcycle safety.”

Sensenbrenner introduced a similar resolution during the previous Congress.

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 its support of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, please visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com.

 

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.