NCOM Biker Newsbytes APRIL 2011

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4/22/2011 6:55:01 AM
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NCOM Biker Newsbytes APRIL 2011

 

CONGRESS ACTS TO REINFORCE BAN ON NHTSA LOBBYING

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month across the country, and Congressional lawmakers are introducing a resolution on May 2 to continue current restrictions on NHTSA that prevent the federal transportation agency from lobbying state and local governments to enact helmet laws.

 

The lobbying ban was originally amended into the Transportation Equity Act in 1998, but U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and his House colleagues want to reinforce the prohibitions on NHTSA lobbying and focus the agency’s efforts on crash prevention and rider education.

 

According to the resolution, the U.S. House of Representatives "supports efforts to retain the ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration'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, similar to a version Sensenbrenner introduced last session, goes on to say 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."

 

“KIDS JUST WANT TO RIDE” COMPANION BILL INTRODUCED IN U.S. SENATE

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has introduced an amendment to exempt youth motorcycles and ATVs from the “lead law” that will effectively ban the sale of these machines.

 

Senate Amendment 264 would exempt youth off highway vehicles from the overly-restrictive lead-content provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, which has decimated the youth motorsports industry and will ban their sale at the end of the year unless the CPSIA language is changed.

 

Meant to protect our children from imported toys with lead-based paint, the CPSIA prohibits the making, importing, distributing or selling of any product intended for children 12 and under that contains more than a specified amount of lead in any accessible part. The unintended consequences were that, because some parts such as brakes and battery components contain lead, dealerships were barred from selling motorcycles and ATVs intended for young riders, as well as replacement parts.

 

The Klobuchar amendment is similar to H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act introduced in the House by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), and would amend S. 493, the Small Business Innovation Research Reauthorization Act.

 

You can contact your Congressional representatives through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to urge their support.

 

BIKERS PROTEST MOTORCYCLE-ONLY CHECKPOINTS

Hundreds of motorcyclists from around Georgia rode to the Capitol to rev their engines in protest of a federal grant the Georgia State Patrol is using to conduct motorcycle-only checkpoints.

 

The crowd denounced the overly-invasive and discriminatory roadblocks as unconstitutional and chanted “No more profile stops” and "Education, not checkpoints!"

 

The protest rally came two weeks after the state patrol conducted motorcycle checkpoints on Interstates 75 and 95 during Daytona Bike Week, during which troopers stopped motorcyclists at roadblocks to check for proper paperwork, approved helmet, and properly functioning equipment.

 

“The roadblocks are a violation of our rights and are a pure attempt at profiling,” said Dan Forrest, State Director of ABATE of Georgia. “Having a registration, proof of insurance and an endorsement on our license does make us safe. Loud pipes never killed anyone.”

 

Georgia is the first state to conduct such checkpoints under a federal grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of a $350,000 pool of funds available to as many as five law enforcement agencies nationwide to test the effectiveness of a New York State Police pilot program.

 

Several motorcycle organizations are urging riders to call on Governor Nathan Deal to cancel the remainder of the checkpoints, which will be scheduled over the next 20 months at undisclosed locations during unannounced times.

 

Some in Congress have also questioned NHTSA’s grant and called for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to pull the plug on future funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints. Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), who recently co-sponsored legislation to prohibit such grants, called the checkpoints “outrageously intrusive.”

 

Indeed, many of the protesters at the March 23rd rally held signs in support of US House Resolution 904 which would prevent the US DOT from providing funds to states which would be used for motorcycle roadblocks.

 

In the meantime, motorcyclists are also awaiting a court ruling on the constitutionality of the New York checkpoints, being challenged by N.Y. Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney Mitch Proner on behalf of his clients as well as representing the interests of ABATE of New York and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM).

 

MOTORCYCLISTS COME TOGETHER FOR JAPAN

The 2011 Japan Earthquake and subsequent Tsunami last month has affected the motorcycle industry in a big way, especially since Japan is home to the "Big Four" motorcycle manufacturers: Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki.

 

As the disaster relief efforts continue in Northeastern Japan, American motorcyclists are doing what they can to help those struggling through the cleanup and rebuilding, with U.S. motorcycle industry groups, racing series and even the American division of Japanese manufacturers raising funds in various fashions.

 

Three U.S. powersports industry associations announced that they are joining forces to provide financial assistance to the relief efforts underway in Japan. The boards and members of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America are collectively donating $10,000 to the 2011 Japan Relief Fund, and each organization is encouraging its members and individuals in the riding community to make their own contributions via a link on their websites (visit MIC.org, rockmoto.com, motorcycles.org, MSF-USA.org, SVIA.org or atvsafety.org and click on the “2011 Japan Relief Fund” tab). All donations will go to experienced non-governmental disaster relief agencies in Japan that have a proven track record of emergency humanitarian relief and restoration work.

 

To provide support to those affected by Japan’s worst natural disaster; the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake that triggered a tsunami that caused widespread devastation and crippled nuclear power plants, the presidents of all of the U.S.-based Kawasaki entities are collecting donations from employees under their matching gift program and forwarding the contributions to the Red Cross. The Kawasaki Good Times Foundation is contributing $50,000 to initiate the charitable giving campaign.

 

Even iconic American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has reached out to the disaster zone with a $250,000 donation to the American Red Cross aid effort in Japan, and has established a link on their website to the Red Cross (www.RedCross.org) to make it easier for employees, customers and other riders to contribute.

 

EUROPEAN STUDY YIELDS INSIGHT INTO MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

European researchers discovered some interesting facts about the common causes of motorcycle accidents. The Motorcycle Accidents In Depth Study (MAIDS) was based on 921 motorcycle accidents, which included 103 fatalities, across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. While some of the findings were expected, others were unanticipated. Not surprisingly, the study indicates that the motorcyclists most often collided with passenger vehicles. Surprisingly or not, 70% of passenger vehicle drivers involved in accidents with motorcycles failed to perceive the motorcyclist. And while 73.1% of riders attempted some form of collision avoidance, 32% nonetheless experienced some form of loss of control during the maneuver. While all this may seem disheartening to riders, there are steps that can be taken to maximize safety; other findings from the study indicate: Over half of the accidents occurred at intersections - Although 90% of those involved in crashes were wearing helmets, 9% of helmeted riders lost their helmets in crashes due to improper fit, fastening or damage - Younger riders -- those between 18 and 25 years of age -- crashed at a higher percentage and riders aged 41 to 55 crashed less frequently - Riders wearing dark clothes were more likely to crash than others - Modified conventional street motorcycles were over-represented in crashes in the study, but engine size did not appear to be a factor - Unlicensed bikers were more likely to crash than properly licensed bikers - Weather was deemed to be a factor in only 7.5% of accidents.

 

VIRGINIA LAUNCHES “RIDER ALERT” CARD

Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and Bon Secours Virginia Health System, in partnership with Motorcycle Virginia, Inc., have launched a new program designed to save the lives of injured motorcyclists. The program provides free identification data cards that will help first responders provide rapid and accurate medical assistance to riders involved in accidents.

 

Motorcyclists who participate are provided a free Rider Alert card that contains their personal emergency contact and medical information in the event of a crash. The cards are kept inside the lining of riders' helmets and come with a 1-inch round sticker placed outside the helmet to alert emergency responders of the card. The sticker also warns bystanders not to remove the rider's helmet, which could prevent further injury.

 

RAA officials say the Rider Alert card program is the first of its kind in the United States, and said that they modeled their program on an initiative in Great Britain known as "CRASH Card", developed two years ago by that country's Ambulance Motorcycle Club.

 

On a national level, Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) was founded on a similar premise over 25 years ago by California attorney Richard M. Lester, issuing free Emergency Medical cards to bikers across the country that are linked to a database of their important medical information and emergency contact. A.I.M. has notified ambulance companies and first responders across the country to look for the yellow A.I.M. Card in a downed rider’s wallet.

 

We applaud Virginia’s Rider Alert program and can appreciate their organizers’ level of commitment to implement such a life-saving project,” said Lester, whose A.I.M. program also networks with biker attorneys in every state to represent the interests of injured motorcyclists. “When a rider is down, they need all the help they can get as fast as they can get it.

 

More than three million A.I.M. Cards have been issued since 1985, and you can get yours free by calling (800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.  Free “Do Not Remove This Helmet” stickers are also available.

 

WEIRD NEWS: HONDA WORKING ON MOTORCYCLE SEATBELTS

Yes, you read it right…Honda is working on a system of seatbelts for motorcycles.  Seems crazy, but it appears to be a serious project judging from the patents Honda has filed for the system, and images posted on BikersPost.com.

 

According to the website, the belt arrangement is designed for larger touring bikes like the Gold Wing where the rider won't be moving around much in the seat, and the belt can work with the airbag to more effectively reduce injuries.

 

However, Honda apparently has recognized that in a lot of accidents it's better to be away from the bike rather than attached to it, so their new seatbelt system also has elements of ejector seat: When the computer senses that the bike is irretrievably tipping over it releases the entire seat, with the rider still attached, and inflates an airbag backrest. “The idea is that having ejected you slide down the road in a sitting position, with the seat betwixt your hide and the asphalt. Sort of extreme tobogganing.”

 

Of course, nobody envisioned airbags on a motorcycle either, before Honda’s R&D team put one on their Gold Wing as a factory option.

 

QUOTABLE QUOTE: “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.

~ George Washington Carver, scientist (1864-1943)

 

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