Virginia Outlaws Motorcycle Only Checkpoints

Virginia is latest state to ban "motorcycle only" checkpoints.

In a victory for motorcyclists, Virginia is the latest state to bar motorcycle-only checkpoints, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

On Feb. 28, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law H.B. 187, which was introduced by Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah). The new law, which takes effect July 1, prohibits law enforcement agencies from establishing checkpoints where the only vehicles subject to inspection are motorcycles.

The measure was introduced after the Arlington County Police Department set up a motorcycle-only checkpoint during the Rolling Thunder ride on May 28, 2011, that brings awareness to prisoner of war/missing in action (POW/MIA) issues.

Similar laws have been enacted in New Hampshire and North Carolina.

“Officials say they set up these motorcycle-only checkpoints to pull over motorcyclists to check for safety violations,” said Rick Podliska, a Virginia resident and AMA deputy director of government relations. “But if officials are really concerned about motorcyclists’ safety, then they need to stop discriminating against us with these checkpoints and start supporting programs that prevent motorcycle crashes, such as rider safety training and driver awareness programs.”

 


Allstate Wants Drivers to See Yellow, Then “LOOK” for Motorcyclists on the Road

Insurer places caution signs in 25 U.S. cities to remind drivers to LOOK for riders, help save lives

NORTHBROOK, Ill., May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Twenty-five cities are getting new traffic signs designed to bring awareness to motorcyclists on the road, thanks to Allstate. The insurer will place cautionary signs at intersections in 25 major metropolitan areas to prompt drivers to look out for riders at intersections. An average of three motorcyclists are killed every day at intersections in the United States, and crash data reveals that motorcycle crashes happen more often in intersections than elsewhere, relative to the amount of time riders spend in them.

The caution signs, which are yellow and diamond-shaped, feature a motorcycle silhouette and are inscribed with the word “LOOK” to encourage motorists to look for motorcycles before crossing an intersection. The signs, part of Allstate’s “Once is Never Enough” (ONE) program, are designed to increase awareness of motorcycle collisions with motorists at intersections and to help remind drivers and riders alike that looking once at intersections is never enough.

“In the time it takes to blink an eye, a life could be saved,” said Keith Rutman, vice president of Allstate’s consumer household unit. “Taking one extra second at an intersection to look left, right – and left again – for motorcyclists can help make our roads safer.”

Allstate encourages both drivers and riders to be conscious that they share the road with each other, and offers the following tips for motorcyclists and motorists to keep in mind next time they hit the road:

Tips for Motorists

  • Look left, right – and left again – for motorcyclists. Also, be aware that because of a motorcycle’s small size, a bike can easily hide in a car’s blind spot.
  • Be cautious when going through intersections. Almost one-third of motorcycle accidents happen here.
  • Allow for greater following distance. Did you know most motorcyclists do not activate their brake light when slowing down? They slow down by downshifting.
  • Don’t assume motorcyclists are speeding. Due to their small size, motorcycles may seem to be moving faster and appear farther away than they really are.
  • Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane. This helps them be seen more easily by motorists. They also tend to avoid the center of the lane because of liquids that leak from car engines, transmissions and radiators.

Tips for Motorcyclists

  • Be cautious when going through intersections. Almost one-third of motorcycle crashes happen here.
  • Be visible when you ride. Avoid blind spots, wear bright-colored, protective clothing, activate turn signals early and always use your headlights.
  • Flash your brake lights when slowing down. This helps others on the road know your intentions.
  • Remember to give yourself space between you and the car in front of you. You’ll have more time to react to other motorists’ actions.
  • Ride within your limits. If you’re a new rider, consider taking a training course. Rush hour is not the time to learn how to maneuver your motorcycle. All riders should avoid extreme temperatures and inclement weather.

The ONE program sign installations will be taking place in the following cities:

  • Albany, N.Y.
  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Chicago, Ill.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Denver, Colo.
  • Houston, Texas
  • Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Miami, Fla.
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Sacramento, Calif.
  • San Diego, Calif.
  • San Francisco, Calif.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Seattle, Wash.
  • St. Louis, Mo.
  • Tampa, Fla.
  • Washington, D.C.

For more information regarding motorcycle safety and awareness, visit Allstate.com

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The Allstate Corporation

(NYSE: ALL) is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer known for its “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate®” slogan. Now celebrating its 80th anniversary as an insurer, Allstate is reinventing protection and retirement to help nearly 16 million households insure what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow. Consumers access Allstate insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada, as well as via www.allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®.

 

TxDOT Asks Drivers to Watch Out for Motorcycles

The Texas Department of Transportation is educating drivers on how to prevent collisions with motorcycles.

The agency’s “Share the Road” public awareness campaign urges drivers to look twice for motorcycles at intersections and when changing lanes, the two places where serious motorcycle collisions commonly occur.

The campaign uses TV and radio commercials and billboards to drive home the safety message.

Fort Worth police Sgt. Mike Cagle, a motorcycle patrolman, said educated drivers can reduce the number of collisions.

“Look twice, do a double take, [and] be respectful,” he said. “A motorcycle is a vehicle just like any other vehicle.

Ultimately, drivers aren’t aware the motorcycles are there, Cagle said.

“They [drivers] just don’t see them, and they need to take the time to look. That’s the scariest thing — they just don’t see us when they come over.”

According to TxDOT, 66 percent of motorcycle crashes result in the death or serious injury for the motorcyclist. The agency says 434 motorcyclists were killed and almost 6,000 were injured in 2009.

Cagle said intersections and lane changes are the deadliest places for motorcycles,  especially when the motorcyclist is turning left or when a vehicle is changing lanes.

Experienced motorcycle rider David Morrissey, who learned to ride in his teens, said drivers just need to be aware of their surroundings.

“Look for us,” he said. “Stop, and talk on your telephone when you are stopped. And don’t text, and please no sandwiches and mascara at the same time at 80 miles an hour down the road,” he said. See Video

 

Feds Say They Will Pressure States to Require Motorcycle Helmet Use

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal safety officials called on states Thursday to require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, citing a surge in fatalities since the late 1990s.

Motorcycle deaths have increased over the last decade even as other traffic fatalities have declined, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

From the website jalopnik.com

There were 4,400 motorcycle deaths in the U.S. last year, more than in all aviation, rail, marine and pipeline accidents combined. That’s nearly twice the fatalities a decade ago. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

Board members said at a news conference they were elevating the helmet recommendation to their annual list of “most wanted” safety improvements to spotlight the issue and pressure governors and state legislatures to act.

“People have to get outraged about this safety issue that is causing so many deaths needlessly,” NTSB Vice Chairman Christopher Hart said.

Twenty states make all motorcycle riders wear helmets, the board said. Most states have limited helmet requirements, and three states — Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire — have no requirement.

Nearly all states had universal helmet laws when they were necessary for full federal highway funding. But in the mid-1990s Congress repealed the requirement, leaving the issue up to states to decide. As states began repealing or weakening helmet laws, fatalities rose.

The safety board can’t force states to enact tougher helmet laws or offer money as an incentive. Its primary power is its bully pulpit.

Deborah Hersman, the safety board’s chair, promised to keep pressure on states and, if that doesn’t work, to seek help from Congress or the administration.

The call or tougher helmet laws comes after a new report showing the United States lagging behind nearly every other wealthy country in reducing traffic fatalities, despite bringing them down 9.7 percent last year to 33,808, the lowest number since 1950. In 2008, an estimated 37,423 people died on the highways, representing a yearly decline of 9.3 percent.

The dramatic declines were likely due to a sour economy as people drove less, rather than changing their behavior, the report by the Transportation Research Board said. Fatalities are likely to increase as the economy improves, researchers said.

Other countries are doing better. The U.S. had the lowest fatality rate in the world in the 1970s, but Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France and the United Kingdom have surpassed the United States.

While fatalities dropped 19 percent in the U.S. from 1995 to 2009, they dropped 52 percent in France and 38 percent in the United Kingdom. Rates fell 50 percent in 15 high-income countries with available traffic data.

“The United States can no longer claim to rank highly in road safety by world standards,” the report said.

Fatalities have fallen in other nations partly through programs that sometimes generate opposition in the U.S such as speed cameras and speed measuring devices, sobriety checkpoints and mandatory motorcycle helmets. Thousands of lives could be saved if such programs were widely adopted in the U.S., the report said.

More frequent checkpoints nationwide to detect drunk drivers could save 1,500 to 3,000 lives annually, researchers estimated. Systematic speed control programs could save 1,000 to 2,000 lives, and mandatory helmet rules for motorcyclists could mean 450 less deaths a year. Another 1,200 deaths would be avoided if seat belt use rose to 90 percent from 85 percent.

“Where is the public outcry against these preventable deaths?” Hersman asked.

“Americans should strive for zero fatalities on the road. We should be leading, rather than following the international community when it comes to roadway design and safety measures,” he said. “But it is a sad fact that the U.S. is in their rear view mirror and falling further behind the rest of the world when it comes to highway safety.”

Clinton Oster, an environment and public policy professor at the Indiana University-Bloomington and chairman of the committee that wrote the report, said there was no “silver bullet” program that stood out.

“I think we need to be much more systematic in developing clear goals, measuring results and making that information public,” Oster said. Other countries “work very hard to demonstrate these techniques actually do save lives.”


Two Wheels Safer Than Four

Baltimore:  In research that may surprise off-road riding enthusiasts and safety experts, a Johns Hopkins team has found that crashes involving ATVs — four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles — are significantly more dangerous than crashes involving two-wheeled off-road motorcycles, such as those used in extreme sports like Motocross.

The Results

The research, to be presented at the American College of Surgeons’ 2010 Clinical Congress in Washington, D.C., this week, found that victims of ATV crashes were 50 percent more likely to die of their injuries than similarly injured victims of off-road motorcycle crashes. ATV victims were also 55 percent more likely than injured motorcyclists to be admitted to a hospital’s intensive-care unit and 42 percent more likely to be placed on a ventilator.

“There’s a belief that four wheels must be safer than two,” says Cassandra Villegas, M.P.H., a research fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Surgery Trials and Outcomes. “But we found the opposite. People involved in ATV crashes are more likely to die or suffer serious trauma.”

The growing popularity of off-road vehicles in the United States has led to a steep rise in the number of injuries resulting from their use. In 2000, Villegas notes, there were 92,200 injuries involving ATVs or off-road motorcycles; in 2007, the last year for which data is available, there were 150,900 injuries. But little rigorous research has been done to determine which vehicles may be riskier than others.

ATVs and off-road motorcycles are designed for recreational use, not use on city streets, and typically are ridden on trails, sand dunes and other rough terrain.

Study Details

In the first study to compare the severity of injuries sustained by ATV versus off-road motorcycle riders, Villegas and senior author Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, reviewed data on nearly 60,000 patients who suffered an injury after a crash involving one of the vehicles between 2002 and 2006.

The researchers say they don’t know why ATV crashes lead to greater injury and mortality, noting they cannot trace the differences solely to helmet use even though 60 percent of motorcyclists were wearing helmets as compared to 30 percent of those in ATV crashes. Even when both types of riders had been wearing helmets, ATV riders still experienced worse injuries and outcomes than motorcyclists, Villegas says. Only a few states have laws requiring the use of a helmet when riding an ATV, says Villegas, and while motorcycle helmet laws are also determined by states, many more have helmet-use laws for motorcycles.

Possible Factors

The researchers say it’s possible that ATV riders wear less protective clothing than off-road motorcyclists when they head out, sometimes little more than shorts and a T-shirt. Another contributing factor could be the significant weight of ATVs, which can cause severe crush injuries when they land atop victims and lead to a greater likelihood of internal organ or extremity damage, Villegas says.

Villegas says that these findings may allow parents, legislators, educators and those in the ATV industry to make better decisions about the use of the off-road vehicles. She also says that studies like these could help ATV manufacturers design and implement increased safety technology in ATVs, similar to how automobile manufacturers have used research to make safer cars and trucks.

Hopkins researchers Stephen M. Bowman, Ph.D.; Eric B. Schneider, Ph.D.; Elliott R. Haut, M.D.; Kent A. Stevens, M.D., M.P.H.; and David T. Efron, M.D., contributed to this study.


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.


Will Future Cars “See” Motorcycles Better?

Car companies are heralding the day when the industry produces a “zero fatality” automobile.  That’s right, aside from a meteor falling on you while driving down the expressway, the automobile industry believes that in the next 10 to 20 years, computer simulations and virtual engineering will enable manufacturers to construct cars with a near zero fatality rating.

New technology will provide magnesium and carbon-fiber parts in strategic locations and active safety systems that slow the car as it follows curves in the road, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication that warns you about approaching vehicular, motorcycle, even pedestrian traffic.

Volvo has gone so far to announce that “By 2020, nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.”

This is great news for motorcyclists, many of who are killed or injured when auto drivers cross into their lane or turn left in their path.

To reach zero fatalaty rating, auto companies are relying on making vehicles that can avoid other vehicles, and in the event of an unforeseeable and unavoidable impact, a vehicle that can crash safer.

Focusing on safer motorcycle crashes  is something motorcycle rights activists have lobbied against for years believing that better auto driver awareness is the key to saving motorcyclists lives.

However, some motorcycle manufacturers have, in the past few years, made improvements in protecting motorcyclists during a crash.

American Honda Motor Co. (which includes Honda and Acura cars, as well as Honda motorcycles, motors and power equipment) has dedicated a lot of money and time to crash analyses with high powered computer model simulations in many different scenarios.

Honda was the first and currently the only motorcycle manufacturer to install air bags on a motorcycle.  The Goldwing air bag is designed to be deployed in the event of  a frontal impact which will slow the operators rate of ejection and th erotically lessen the force of the impact to the operator.

Safety vests, which use compressed gas to instantly inflate upon a rider being ejected from the motorcycle seat have also been marketed and have been successful in several real world accidents.

Automobiles that sense motorcycles and prevent the operator from crossing into the path of the oncoming bike will undoubtedly save many lives, but will have little impact on reducing single vehicle accidents where rider error is the cause, that where safety advocates say additional training is needed.