Largest Honda Dealer in the US Under Investigation

Southern Honda Powersports, the largest Honda dealer with locations in Tennessee and Florida is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),  the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nashville and the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office for allegedly selling unsafe motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes, according to a report out today in USA Today.    The report says a consultant and former employee, along with 9 other employees all say the dealership sold bikes that were under recall, (without fixing them first) and employees did not have the training to assemble the ATV’s and motorcycles the dealer sold to the public.

The reports says  that there are potentially 25,000 vehicles that are in customers possessions that are potentially unsafe.

The owner, Tim Kelly, says there “is no substance” to the’ allegations, and says alleged assembly problems are “utter balderdash.”

Read the USA Today story here

American Motorcyclist Association Raises Questions About New Federal Transportation Bill

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is asking some pointed questions related to motorcycling priorities following a news conference by a powerful U.S. House committee chairman.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, held a news conference on July 7 to roll out some of the priorities that he intends to include in his forthcoming proposed national transportation bill. If it is introduced, approved by the full Congress and signed into law by the president, the bill would guide federal transportation spending for the next six years.

Mica’s proposal would spend only $230 billion, far less than the $566 billion sought by President Obama’s administration.

In a letter to Mica dated July 11, AMA Washington Representative Rick Podliska outlined the AMA’s position on a variety of issues crucial to motorcyclists and asked several questions in light of the proposed spending cuts.

For example, Podliska asked whether Mica’s proposal would: bar states from using federal funds for motorcycle-only traffic checkpoints; continue to prohibit lobbying at the state level by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); continue to designate funds for motorcycle rider education and awareness programs; and continue the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) which uses a modest amount of the revenue collected from fuel taxes paid by off-highway riders to help pay for state trail projects.

AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman has previously stated that abolishing the RTP program would effectively create a tax increase on off-highway riders (OHV) because the RTP funds would no longer be designated for a program that benefits motorized users.

Podliska also noted that Mica, during his news conference, discussed “performance measures” as a way to improve state highway safety efforts. Podliska asked whether performance measures would be applied to states with high motorcycle crash rates so that those states would be required to spend more federal funding to reduce the number of crashes.

In addition, Podliska wrote that Mica appeared to be pushing for more public-private partnerships. Podliska asked whether Mica’s proposals would, for example, require private companies operating public roads to continue to allow motorcycles to use those roads.

To read the letter, click here:http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Libraries/Rights_Documents_Federal/7_11_11_Chairman_Mica_MC_Priorities_Letter.sflb.ashx?download=true

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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.

 

Pimping the Georgia State Patrol

It was my intention to write this editorial AFTER I returned from Daytona Bike Week.

You know what they say about “good intentions” right?  There’s a road paved to you-know-where with them, and sometimes in this business I feel like I’m headed there in the express lane with the throttle wide open.

Since the schedule won’t cooperate, I’m writing this a few hours before leaving for the annual spring motorcycle migration.  I fully expect this year’s event to be well attended, despite the lingering economic uncertainty.

I believe most of you are as tired of winter as I am.  Hopefully the lower hotel/motel rates (than in years past) should offset the higher gasoline prices and lure you down to spend a few days basking in the early spring Florida sunshine.

For some of you that will mean passing through my home state of Georgia.  If you take I-75 or I-95,  I apologize for the discrimination you will likely experience on the ride through.
Normally Georgia is considered motorcycle friendly.

However,  we have pimped out our troopers to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  for a measly $70,000.

Let’s put this into perspective.  For less than the cost of two patrol cars and a motorcycle, the Georgia Highway Patrol allowed itself to be hired out to perform discriminatory traffic profiling, under the guise of “safety checkpoints.”

In their press release the GSP said they were focusing on high speed motorcycles and reckless riding and would be checking for non-DOT approved helmets, valid tags and motorcycle endorsements.

I’m all for safety but how does a check point deter high speed motorcycle riders.   And when did an improper tag become unsafe?

What’s worse is the GSP spokesperson had the audacity to claim the stop should only take about a minute for the rider who has all  the proper paperwork.

I don’t know about you but it takes me more than a minute to stop, get off the bike, take off my helmet and gloves and get my wallet, find my insurance card and license and then suit back up.
The brain trust who wrote that press release obviously never rode a motorcycle.

What chaps my ass the most isn’t the “safety spin” or “it’s not really an inconvenience” spin the Georgia State Patrol is putting on this.  What chaps me the most is how eager they are to participate in blatant discrimination for a little overtime pay.

Is there nobody in a position of authority in the State Patrol that has the moral turpitude to stand up and say, “This is wrong and we should not participate in it, regardless of how much money the Federal Government is throwing at us.

Not to mention these checkpoints will be conducted on interstate weigh stations.  The same brain trust who wrote the GSP press release must have thought it would be a good idea to mix motorcycles and 18 wheelers.

I don’t know about your state, but Georgia has made some deep cuts to the State Patrol budget.  I’ve got a good source inside the department who told me that troopers have been instructed to stay in one spot during the bulk of their shift and not drive any more than they absolutely have to.

As a former law enforcement officer I can tell you that sitting in one spot for a long period of time makes for a boring shift.    I can’t really blame them for filling their time with checkpoints, but I do blame them for participating in “discriminatory” checkpoints.

In a perfect world individual State Patrol officers would step up and complain about this type of enforcement and refuse to condone it.

In this world we’ll have to rely on legislation that has been introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) to block the Department of Transportation (who funds NHTSA) from giving grants that target motorcycles only.   Not only would it stop the Georgia checkpoints it would also stop the checkpoints that New York State has been doing. (corrected 03-04-2011 – The New York checkpoints are State funded, not with NHTSA grants.)

I’m trying my best not to Chicken Little this issue and cry “foul” at every perceived injustice to motorcyclists, so if there’s someone out there who can justify these checkpoints, I’d love to hear your argument for their validity.

Until next month, ride safe and always take the road less traveled.

 

Bill introduced to block motorcycle-only checkpoints

A federal lawmaker has introduced legislation to prevent the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) from giving money to states and local jurisdictions for motorcycle-only checkpoints, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

On March 3, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the bill. The legislation, with original co-sponsors Reps. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would prohibit the DOT “from providing grants or any funds to a state, county, town, or township, Indian tribe, municipal or other local government to be used for any program to check helmet usage or create checkpoints for a motorcycle driver or passenger.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is part of the Transportation Department, recently gave Georgia a $70,000 grant to conduct one or more roadside motorcycle-only checkpoints. New York state has operated a similar program using state funds. The AMA has been tracking this disturbing development of motorcycle-only checkpoints since it first appeared in New York several years ago.

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.