Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
WASHINGTON TARGETS DISTRACTED DRIVING IN MOTORCYCLE AWARENESS VIDEO
The Washington State Motorcycle Safety Program recently released a new motorcycle awareness video targeting inattentive drivers. Created with teen driver education students in mind, the eight-minute-long film starts by showing a teen driver cruising the streets in a car while eating and listening to loud music.
When he turns left into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist, time stops, giving both the driver and rider a chance to exit their vehicles and talk to each another.
After some initial frustration, Randy the motorcyclist gets in the car with Ian, the teen driver, and teaches him the dos and don’ts of how to drive when sharing the road with motorcyclists. Randy’s lessons include looking twice before turning and giving motorcycles more space.
The two eventually return to their vehicles and the inevitable crash takes place.
“The video is meant to be a relevant and easily accessible tool for Driver Training providers to use as they fulfill the motorcycle awareness requirement of their curriculum,” states the Washington State Department of Licensing, adding that the WMSP is supported by motorcycle endorsement fees and is tasked with providing Public Awareness of motorcycle safety, Motorcycle Safety education programs including classroom and on-cycle training, and Improved operator testing.
The YouTube video “Motorcycle Awareness – A Second Look” has already been viewed over 100,000 times in the first three weeks (www.youtube.com/watch?v=_b3T7u4ZJ1Y#t=19).
TENNESSEE BANS BIG RIGS FROM DRAGON
A mountainous stretch of U.S. Route 129 (SR 115) from Tennessee to North Carolina famously known as “The Dragon” boasts 318 curves in 11.19 miles and is a beacon for drivers and riders alike, but semis are no longer welcome! Due to a “critical number of traffic accidents involving large trucks,” the state of Tennessee is following the lead of neighboring North Carolina in banning big rigs from US 129, on sections of highway known as Deals Gap or The Tail of the Dragon.
For years, navigation systems have pointed truckers to the Dragon as a shortcut across Blount County. That ends with the new year, and signs will be posted mid- January prohibiting commercial vehicles (longer than 30 feet).
After conducting a safety review, according to the Tennessee DOT there were a total of 204 crashes from 2010 to 2012 in Blount County — six of those resulted in fatalities. Only one of those fatal accidents involved a tractor trailer, but many of the other incidents with semis have blocked the narrow highway for hours and prevented travel for all motorists.
NEW MEXICO HELMET STICKER PROPOSAL OPPOSED
In response to a Senate bill draft creating a sticker riders would have to pay for in order to exercise their freedom of choice in helmet use, the New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization (NMMRO) has authored a letter of opposition supported by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) and the NCOM Legislative Task Force (NCOM-LTF), among others, it states:
Dr. Kurt B. Nolte, M.D., Office of the Medical Investigator; “It has recently come to the attention of the New Mexico
Motorcyclists Rights Organization (NMMRO) that a bill
was drafted on your behalf by Clifford Rees at the New Mexico Legislature. If passed this bill would impose a
$692 fee on motorcyclists who chose to ride without a helmet. As an organization we are interested in hearing your justification for placing this burden on the public and if you think that placing helmets on motorcyclists would decrease the number of motorcycle crashes.
Our organization would be pleased to share government statistics with you which show that 58% of all motorcyclist deaths are experienced by riders wearing helmets. We would also like to point out that it has been proven that accident prevention has a much bigger impact on preventing motorcycle injuries and fatalities. Helmets have not been shown to prevent motorcycle accidents and in some cases can increase the chances of an accident occurring. We have also worked with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to try to improve the awareness of drivers on New Mexico’s roads in respect to motorcycles as another method of accident prevention.
If in fact you do intend to proceed with your present actions we would like to spend some time with you looking into what affect this would have on the motorcycle riders of New Mexico and not just assume that it would be beneficial to their safety. The NMMRO and NM State Representative Rick Miera (a long-serving member of the NCOM-LTF) are available to meet with you to discuss this issue further.”
Thank you for listening to our concerns on this subject, Annette Torrez, Chairperson NMMRO (and member of the
NCOM Board of Directors)
LANE-SPLITTING LEGISLATION PROPOSED IN CALIFORNIA
From across Europe to throughout Asia, motorcyclists around the world routinely “filter” their way between lanes of slow-moving cars, but here in the U.S. only riders in California are allowed to “lane-split” through congested traffic — not-so-much because it’s legal, but because there are no specific laws addressing the issue. That may soon change, as Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) has introduced Assembly Bill No.51 to specifically regulate the practice.
According to ABATE of California, their lobbyist Jim Lombardo has contacted the author’s legislative staff who said the measure was introduced by their office because of the widespread newspaper and television coverage regarding lane splitting and the general public’s ignorance of the legality of the issue. The staff members are willing to accept amendments to improve the bill language but are seeking to “codify”, or write into California law, lane splitting legislation to ensure it is not completely outlawed after the CHP (California Highway Patrol) was forced to remove their “lane splitting guidelines” last summer.
AB 51 seeks to amend Section 21658 of the California Vehicle Code to “authorize a motorcycle to be driven between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane if the speed of traffic is 35 miles per hour or less and the motorcycle is driven no more than 10 miles per hour faster than the speed of traffic.” A violation of the Vehicle Code is a crime, so the bill would create a new criminal penalty.
In addition to general opposition to over-regulating an accepted practice, “Obviously this bill is not something ABATE can endorse, especially when it limits lane splitting to traffic speeds of 35 MPH or less,” said Dave Hastings, ABATE Executive Director. “We will implement a plan of action to kill this bill or at least amend it into something that the riders of California can live with.”
WHEN GAS PRICES GO UP, SO DO MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS
A new study suggests that as gas prices rose in recent years, so did motorcyclist injuries and fatalities, because more people start using motorcycles and many of those riders are inexperienced, the researchers explained.January/February 2015
The analysis, published in the journal for Injury Prevention, revealed a strong association between rising gas prices and an increasing number of motorcycle registrations, along with motorcyclist injuries and deaths. But it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.
Analysts examined data gathered between 2002 and 2011 in California, which has the highest number of motorcycle registrations in the United States and the third highest number of motorcyclist deaths, and extrapolated that higher gas prices resulted in an additional 800 deaths and 10,290 injuries among motorcyclists in California over the ten year period.
According to the report, crashes were more likely to occur in urban areas and during the afternoon. Of the motorcyclists involved in crashes, nearly 93% were men, 46% were middle-aged, 68% were caucasion, and 20% were uninsured. Riders ages 16 to 24 and those on the latest models of motorcycles were most likely to be involved in at-fault crashes.
Local authorities have taken steps to better regulate and license the use of motorcycles, saying they were being used to smuggle goods into rebel-controlled areas.
The order prompted unrest in the market including some shooting in the air after armed local youth refused to implement the order. Eyewitnesses told Radio Tamazuj that about five youths had been arrested over instigating chaos in the area. A source said that some shops have remained closed or on standby until life has relatively returned to normal.
WEIRD NEWS: NEW ZEALAND COUPLE FINED $40K FOR RIDING WITHOUT HELMET
A couple in New Zealand have been fined $20,000 each following multiple instances of riding a quad bike without a helmet. According to the New Zealand Herald, Phillip Andrew Jones and Maria Anna Carlson, share-milkers from Marlborough, had been seen riding their All-Terrain Vehicle without helmets multiple times dating back to 2012.
The pair were both fined under the Health and Safety in Employment Act; Jones was charged with failing to take all practicable steps to ensure no other person was harmed at work while riding a quad bike, and Carlson with failing to take all practicable steps to ensure her own safety by wearing a helmet, and the safety of others by not carrying her children on a quad bike.
Quad bikes pose a serious risk on farms, and on average five people were killed and 850 were injured every year,” said WorkSafe spokesman Francois Barton, adding that Carlson was twice witnessed riding her quad bike without a helmet after a prohibition notice had been issued and the second time she had two young children with her on the bike.
Carlson admitted that despite owning helmets she didn’t wear one because “it becomes just a little bit of a hassle.”
EPA GRANTS ETHANOL TEMPORARY REPRIEVE
The ethanol industry dodged a bullet recently after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deferred action on permanently lowering the amount of renewable fuels that must be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply. Rather than deciding to change the methodology of the mandate included in the Renewable Fuel Standard law, currently based on steadily increasing levels of ethanol- blended fuels, as it first proposed last year to lower the required annual levels, the EPA opted to wait until 2015 to decide.
While the delay gives the renewable fuels industry time to regroup and lobby for higher levels, the final quota will likely be less than the original mandate required, but avoids an outcome that could have been much worse for the $30-billion-a-year industry.
Meanwhile, many motorcycle and automobile organizations, among others, continue to lobby against ethanol, not just because its unapproved use can damage some internal combustion engines, reduce power and mileage, and void manufacturer warranties, but opponents also argue that ethanol pollutes more than the oil it’s meant to replace, takes more energy to produce than it delivers, drives up cost and scarcity of food resources, doesn’t reduce our oil-dependency, and the government subsidies being paid for ethanol production steals funds that could improve our highways, bridges and infrastructure.
INDIANA SCOOTER DRIVERS FACE NEW REGULATIONS
Indiana officials are warning motor scooter drivers that starting in January they’ll need license plates on those bikes. Legislators have approved Indiana’s first license requirements for scooters, and under the new law drivers of scooters with engines of 50 cubic centimeters or less will need to buy license plates and pass a Bureau of Motor Vehicles test involving road signals and signs. Operators of scooters with larger engines will be required to follow motorcycle requirements, including holding a valid motorcycle license or learner’s permit.
Evansville police officials told a legislative committee that scooters had often been involved in accidents and used in crimes such as robberies, but that the owners couldn’t be found because they lacked any registration.The new law doesn’t require insurance for drivers of the smaller scooters, and the registration will cost $26.35, plus a $10 excise tax.
Law sponsor Rep. Dave Wolkins (R-Winona Lake) said not requiring a driver’s license for scooter operators was important because he felt it was necessary that those with drunken driving convictions still have a way to get to work.