News and other info from NCOM
THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICEis brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. If you’ve been involved in any kind of accident, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
KIDS JUST WANT TO RIDE ACT
Two years ago the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) implemented the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 to regulate the lead content in children’s toys, inadvertently banning the sale of youth model all-terrain vehicles and off-highway motorcycles due to trace levels of lead in some inaccessible components.
On January 25, Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) introduced H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act of 2011, which would exempt child-sized dirtbikes and ATVs from the “Lead Law” and provide a legislative fix to the misapplied restrictions.
The Kids Just Want to Ride Act aims to clarify the previous federal law, which the consumer agency claims they must strictly interpret as written despite having twice postponed enforcement.
Rep. Rehberg joined 22 fellow lawmakers from both parties in the House to introduce the new bipartisan act, calling the legislation “…the best way to clarify congressional intent and ensure that children have access to the youth-sized vehicles that will keep them safe.” Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) has announced plans to introduce similar legislation in the Senate.
Congress conducted initial hearings on the CPSIA on February 17 in the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, and reviewed CPSC resources for implementing the lead law.
TAKING AIM AT CHILD PASSENGERS
A Virginia Beach lawmaker has tried and failed to prohibit children under 8 from riding on motorcycles, but despite the defeat of HB 1850 the issue is recurring in states across the country.
In opposing the measure, Matt Danielson, legal counsel for the Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists (VCOM), said that there have been no fatalities among children under 8 riding on motorcycles in the past ten years. "I don't look at this as a governmental issue. I look at this as a parental issue," said Danielson on behalf of VCOM, a political action committee that represents motorcyclists' interests in the General Assembly. "I think the parent can make a better decision about whether their child is ready to ride than can some legislator in Richmond."
Such reasoning hasn’t deterred other state legislation, such as HB 2232 in Oregon that would ban kids under 7 from riding as a passenger, despite existing state law that requires a motorcycle passenger’s feet must reach the footpegs.
Furthermore, in a bid to ban children from riding motorcycles in the Philippines, a ranking senator has cited the State’s power to invoke parens patriae, or the constitutional mandate to “assume and act as a natural parent or guardian in order to safeguard the welfare of any child or individual or an incapacitated and dependent minor who is in need of protection against danger, risk of lives and limbs.”
With the growing number of motorcycle users worldwide, and with economic influences making motorbikes the most affordable mode of transportation, the matter of children riding and who is ultimately responsible for their safety and welfare will be a mounting concern.
U.S. HOUSE BILL ENCOURAGES STATE VEHICLE SAFETY INSPECTION PROGRAMS
U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) has introduced House Bill 229, the Michael Jon Newkirk Transportation Safety Enhancement Act of 2011 that establishes national standards for state safety inspections for motor vehicles. The bill requires states to establish minimum annual vehicle safety inspection programs or lose specific federal funds.
Included in the requirements listed in the language of this new bill, states must enact and enforce "a law that requires the owner of a motor vehicle registered in the state to present the vehicle for inspection on an annual basis to ensure that the vehicle meets or exceeds motor vehicle safety standards to be established by the state."
Less than half the states have vehicle safety inspection programs and of those programs that do exist, many have inconsistent standards, a situation that HB 229 intends to address by standardizing such safety inspection procedures.
WARNING: AUTOMOTIVE SAFETY DEVICES COMING SOON TO MOTORCYCLES
Within the next two years, motorcycles could be sporting collision detection and other safety features more typically found installed in cars. The new safety systems being tested for motorcycles include speed limit warnings, information about neighboring vehicles and changing lanes, and information of the tightness of road bends and the speed in which to turn.
According to a report from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), tests are being completed to bring the latest technologies found on cars to two-wheels, and the rise in motorcyclist fatalities has prompted researchers to adapt the first bike-based safety systems by late 2012.
MIRA (the Motor Industry Research Association) acts as a testing and innovation center for carmakers and has been carrying out tests on the “Saferider” systems on road bikes and simulators. An ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) consultant at MIRA, Jonathan Moore, said of the project: “Saferider takes the driver safety systems that are becoming standard on cars and tries to adapt them to the unique needs of motorcyclists.”
Moore said making safety systems on motorcycles useful was "challenging" because of all the distractions to which riders were subjected. With traffic noise and motorcycle helmets insulating riders from the traditional audible alarms found on car collision systems, researchers have looked for ways to alert bikers of pending danger with tactile warning systems such as vibrating seats and special gloves.
New hi-tech systems could also protect riders from themselves, as one system being tested warns that a rider is going too fast to negotiate a turn. MIRA has developed “smart” software that acts as a "co-pilot" which, with the help of a digital map, knows what speed a motorcyclist should be travelling to make it around an approaching curve in the road.
MOTORCYCLE SALES CONTINUE DECLINE, BUT SHOW SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT
Sales of new motorcycles, scooters and ATVs dropped from 2009 to 2010, but some increases were seen in the month of December according to a recently released sales report for 2010 from the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC).
In 2009, motorcycle sales saw a drastic drop. Close to 360,000 fewer motorcycles were sold in 2009 as compared to 2008, and sales have continued to decline. Total motorcycle sales, including scooters, through 2010 dropped 15.8%, or 82,198 fewer units in 2010 for a total of 439,678 motorcycles sold this year. If you break it down into category, off-road, dual-sport, highway, and scooters all saw a decrease in sales this year.
The biggest loser was off-highway motorcycles, which saw a 23.3% decrease with a drop of nearly 25,000 bikes. The scooter segment saw the smallest decrease at 9.4%, amounting to 3,000 fewer units than were sold in 2009. ATV sales were down 64,000 units, or 20% down.
December saw increases in some segments over the prior year month. Scooter sales were up 20% over the year-ago month, with an increase of 322 units. Dual purpose motorcycles also increased, at 7.2%, with a rise of 86 units over December 2009.
SOUTH CAROLINA BILL WOULD ALLOW CHARITABLE RAFFLES
With many states around the nation cracking down on everything from poker runs to raffles, lawmakers in South Carolina moving to ensure that local churches, schools and nonprofits do not unknowingly break the law when they hold charitable raffles.
Legislation, already approved by a Senate committee 18-4, would change the state Constitution to allow the groups to hold a limited number of raffles and casino nights annually -- as long as 90% of the money raised goes to benefit charitable causes.
“It’s a good start,” said Austin Coates of ABATE South Carolina, a motorcyclist rights nonprofit that holds hundreds of raffles annually for Special Olympics, breast cancer prevention, burn victims and others. “But there’ll be a fight ahead before it becomes law.”
The bill next heads to the full Senate for consideration. Should it survive there, it would go to the House. Ultimately, however, voters would have to approve any change in the state Constitution.
MOTORCYCLE CHECKPOINTS IN GEORGIA DURING BIKE WEEK
The state of Georgia has received a $70,000 federal grant to launch motorcycle-only checkpoints in early March, just as Daytona Bike Week is getting underway. For most travelers, their route will take them through Georgia and likely into awaiting roadblocks to check for such things as proper license and current registration, insurance, DOT-approved helmets, EPA-approved mufflers, working horn and lights, etc, etc.
“We were informed by unnamed sources that the Check Points would start in early March to coincide with the Daytona Bike Week event,” said Dan Forrest, State Director of ABATE of Georgia. “Most points of entry to Florida will be involved, so anyone traveling through Georgia to Daytona might want to rethink their route.”
The US Defenders have issued a Call To Action regarding the proliferation of these motorcycle-only roadblocks being funded by NHTSA grants, and are urging the motorcycle community to voice their opposition to these so-called “Safety Checks” by contacting NHTSA, the U.S. DOT and most importantly by asking your own federal legislators to support H.R. 1498 by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to retain a ban on NHTSA's ability to lobby State Legislators using our federal dollars through the "Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration" grant program (DTNH22-10-R-00386).
“These roadblocks or checkpoints for motorcycles ONLY are being conducted illegally and are discriminatory to say the least,” says Escondido Paul, National Lt. Commander of the US Defenders. “This is one more piece of evidence of the constant profiling attempts targeting our community at large.”
WASHINGTON STATE BILL WOULD PROHIBIT MOTORCYCLE PROFILING
The Confederation of Clubs, US Defenders and ABATE of Washington are seeking support for legislation that would condemn and prevent the widespread law enforcement practice of motorcycle profiling.
The Washington Courts have confirmed that the Washington State Patrol is guilty of unlawful profiling and discrimination against motorcyclists. In 2002 the Court granted a permanent injunction against the State Patrol’s use of a training pamphlet titled BIKER 101 (Wulfekuhle v. Washington State Patrol). However, on November 23, 2009 the WSP, under oath, explicitly admitted that they profile members of motorcycle clubs and continue to use BIKER 101 as a training manual.
This gross violation of a Washington State Superior Court injunction proves that the pattern of motorcycle profiling continues and that the WSP brazenly violates the liberties of motorcyclists
even in the face of judicial reprimand.
To curb such injustices, Rep. Steve Kirby (D-Tacoma) introduced HB 1333 on January 19 to require law enforcement agencies to adopt a written policy that condemns and prevents motorcycle profiling, review existing procedures, and institute training to address the issue of motorcycle profiling, which means using the fact that a person rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle-related clothes as a factor in deciding to stop and question, arrest, or search a person or a vehicle without legal basis. (Companion: SB 5242).
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
Edmund Burke (1729-1797), British statesman and philosopher
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