AMA - Federal helmet law a possibility

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9/28/2010 7:19:46 PM
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AMA - Federal helmet law a possibility




Federal helmet law a possibility

Federal helmet law a possibility

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On September 28, 2010, Administrator David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) called for efforts to "actively work with Congress to promote helmet use." Strickland made this comment at a Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance hearing titled "NHTSA Oversight: An Examination of the Highway Safety Provisions of SAFETEA-LU" of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Strickland's comment was part of his overall testimony regarding how safety provisions within the transportation reauthorization bill (SAFETEA-LU) played a role in reducing highway fatalities.  

Strickland stated the following regarding motorcycle fatalities:
"However, you will notice that there is one indicator that is moving in the wrong direction, motorcycle fatalities. Between 2004 and 2009, the number of motorcycle riders killed increased from just over 4,200 to almost 4,462, an 11 percent increase. The number of motorcycle fatalities did fall between 2008 and 2009, the first time we have seen a decrease in more than a decade. We need to work to build on last year's progress. 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. NHTSA will actively work with Congress to promote helmet use."

To view Strickland's complete testimony, click here.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is concerned that Strickland may be recommending the re-institution of a federal helmet mandate. If a helmet mandate is passed into law, it would penalize any state without a mandatory motorcycle helmet law for all riders by denying federal transportation and safety dollars to that state. The AMA supports states' rights to determine their respective helmet policy free from the threat of federal sanctions. Congress affirmed this right as recently as 1995 in the National Highway System Act when they removed federal penalties placed on states without mandatory helmet laws.

The best way for NHTSA to reduce motorcycle crashes is to employ proven strategies, such as rider education and motorcycle awareness programs, that decrease the likelihood of crashes from ever occurring. These strategies must be research-based, and motorcyclists would be much better served by applying the funding to the national motorcycle crash causation study that is currently underway at Oklahoma State University. This is a sentiment supported by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and many of his colleagues in Congress through recently introduced H. Res. 1498.

To urge your Representative to support H. Res. 1498, click here.
The AMA encourages you to contact your Senators and urge them to prevent the NHTSA from solely focusing on federal helmet mandate legislation but to employ proven strategies to reduce motorcycle crashes from occurring in the first place.  
Contact information for your Senators is available at > Rights > Issues & Legislation by entering your zip code in the "Find your Officials" box. A prewritten e-mail is available for you to send to your Senators immediately by following the "Take Action" option and entering your information.
To view an archived webcast of Strickland's comments at the hearing, click here.
Please write or call your Senators today and urge NHTSA to employ proven strategies, such as rider education and motorcycle awareness programs, that will be better served for motorcyclists.

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