THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICE is 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.
HAWAII TO ELIMINATE ETHANOL IN GASOLINE
Legislation to repeal the requirement that gasoline offered for sale in Hawaii contain a percentage of ethanol was signed into law by Governor David Ige, and the new law becomes effective December 31, 2015.
The law recognizes that the requirement of blending ethanol into gasoline does not produce any economic benefit for the state and the import of ethanol creates an economic burden for state residents. Ethanol increases water formation, which can then corrode metals and dissolve plastics and rubber, especially over a period of time when the vehicle is not used. Current high-performance specialty parts along with pre-model-year ’01 cars and parts may be most susceptible to corrosion, and no motorcycles or ATVs are approved for higher blended fuels. The lifespan of vehicles and equipment can be dramatically reduced with the wrong fuel, and owners could be confronted with breakdowns.
More than a dozen states have ethanol mandates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but only Hawaii and Florida have passed such a repeal. Florida ended its mandate in 2013, the same year the Environmental Protection Agency proposed reducing the amount of ethanol in fuel, acknowledging that a federal push wasn’t working as well as expected.
There have been no changes to federal law on the issue since the EPA report, but Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey and California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein have introduced a bill seeking to repeal the corn ethanol mandate in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.
CALIFORNIA REQUIRES MOTORCYCLISTS TO REMOVE HELMET FOR TRAFFIC STOPS
Known as the “Identity Confirmation Act,” Assembly Bill 346 will require a motorist to give law enforcement an unobstructed view of their face during a traffic stop, said California Assemblymember Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), author of the measure which primarily targets motorcycle riders.
The Facial ID bill was inspired by a Simi Valley, CA police officer who told the assemblyman about having cases thrown out of court because he couldn’t positively identify someone, Wilk told the Simi Valley Acorn, specifically relating the case of a motorcyclist who refused to remove their helmet.
Wilk admitted to the paper that motorists are compliant 99% of the time, and currently if a driver refuses to show their face during a traffic stop, police can arrest them for resisting or delaying an officer, and can result in going to jail until they can go before a judge.
“From an ‘identification’ legal view, all citizens are required to prove their identity when asked by law enforcement,” said Chuck Pedersen, State Legislative Director for ABATE of California. “From a helmet ticket defense, an officer cannot ask for you to remove your helmet for the purpose of inspection. I don’t see a need for this additional legislation.”
Nonetheless, AB 346 passed near-unanimously through the State Assembly, was approved by the Senate, and is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.
HANDLEBAR HEIGHT LIMIT REPEALED IN SOUTH DAKOTA
Just in time for the 75th Sturgis Rally, starting July 1st, ape-hangers are now legal in South Dakota. The $20 fine for riding with your hands too high was wiped off the books as Governor Dennis Daugaard signed Senate Bill 85, effectively abolishing South Dakota codified law that prohibited such handlebars.
Until now it was a petty offense in South Dakota if you rode motorcycle on a public street or highway with the handlebar grips positioned at or above shoulder height, but as of now there are no more regulations on where to hang your hands.
EARPLUGS BENEFICIAL, BUT ILLEGAL FOR OHIO MOTORCYCLISTS
Ohio’s motorcycle operator manual says hearing protection, like earplugs, can help reduce noise while allowing a rider to hear important sounds like horns or sirens, but it also says riders should adhere to state laws, which creates a problem: using earplugs in Ohio while operating a vehicle is illegal. There are exceptions for emergency personnel, or road workers, and even for people who wear hearing aids…but not for motorcyclists.
It isn’t the sound of the motorcycle causing all the noise; “It’s the wind noise that can cause permanent hearing loss,” explains A.I.M. Attorney Ralph C. Buss, who has represented the interests of motorcycle riders for over 30 years. “Deafness is a serious problem that people don’t think about, don’t address,” Buss said in an interview with WCPN public radio in Cleveland.
Attorney Buss challenged that law in court. His client: Tom Varsel, who happened to be a retired noise expert for GM who was pulled over for riding his motorcycle in Ohio while wearing earplugs. Varsel was fined $37, but his case continued to an appellate court. He lost a constitutional challenge to the earplug law, but the case raised interesting issues of health and safety that the court ruled were matters for the legislature to address.
“What’s clear is that wind noise on a motorcycle can be very intense, intense enough to damage your hearing,” says Eric Healy, a professor of hearing science at the Ohio State University who testified in Varsel’s case. “And what’s also crystal clear is that earplugs can remedy that, almost completely.”
To determine the level of wind noise motorcyclists face, Healy took a recording device for a drive with PhD students. Imagine a mannequin head with anatomically correct ears, stuck out a window, and the measurements recorded from that experiment, Healy says, matched previous work published in well-known British journals in the mid 1990s. He found that at speeds as low as 35 mph, wind noise exceeded 85 decibels.
“Sounds over that are known to cause hearing damage. The levels that we measured were in the range from 110 to 130db,” Healy told WCPN radio host Tony Ganzer. Even helmets don’t prevent the wind noise, though earplugs offering some 30db of potential reduction, might help.
But the wording of the law in Ohio and other states, which dates back to 1989 and was enacted largely in response to stereo headphones in cars, doesn’t allow earplugs to be worn by motorcyclists or motorists.
A similar law in California, which allowed only for “custom earplugs,” was amended in 2004, allowing individuals to wear earplugs that don’t block the sounds of horns or emergency sirens. Under exceptions to their Headphone and Earplug law, it was added (V C Section 27400):
“(d) A person wearing personal hearing protectors in the form of earplugs or molds that are specifically designed to attenuate injurious noise levels. The plugs or molds shall be designed in a manner so as to not inhibit the wearer’s ability to hear a siren or horn from an emergency vehicle or a horn from another motor vehicle.”
ILLINOIS LIGHTS IT UP
A bill in Illinois to legalize accent lighting on motorcycles passed unanimously through the legislative process and on June 18 was sent to the Governor.
HB3944: Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code to provide that a motorcycle may be equipped with auxiliary accent lights, including standard bulb running lights and light emitting diode pods and strips. Provides that the auxiliary accent lights shall not be red or white or oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights. Defines “auxiliary accent light”.
(a) A motorcycle may be equipped with any number of auxiliary accent lights, including standard bulb running lights and light emitting diode pods and strips of various colors.
(b) The auxiliary accent lights allowed under subsection (a) of this Section shall not be red or white or oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights.
(c) For the purposes of this Section, “auxiliary accent light” means any lighted lamp or illuminating device placed upon a motorcycle, other than head lamps, spot lamps, auxiliary driving lamps, signal lamps, or hazard warning lamps.
“Accent lighting are the small colored lights tucked in on the underside of motorcycle gas tanks and frames,” explains ABATE of Illinois on their website (www.ABATE-IL.org), which supports the measure. “We are looking at legalizing them to be operating while the bike is in motion. They do not interfere with operator eyesight and will actually help in the reduction of bikers being ‘T-Boned’ at night with the extra lighting which will reduce Fatalities and Deaths. The bill increases visibility of motorcycles, especially at night.”
Unlike automobiles and light trucks which are required to have side marker lights or wrap around headlights / tail lights which are visible from the side, motorcycle lights are often only visible from the front and rear and do not have the same illumination as automobiles. NHTSA published a report on the effectiveness of side marker lights on motor vehicles, concluding that side marker lights are a cost effective safety device which reduce the number of nighttime angular collisions that occur in the United States.
A similar bill was recently signed into law in Texas, and Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have all passed similar legislation, while Missouri and Virginia are currently in the process of legalizing such lighting.
SPREADING MOTORCYCLE AWARENESS
Nate Hudson, co-owner of “British-American Motorcycle Club”, a bike shop in Long Beach, California, is currently in the middle of a 17,000-mile ride all over the U.S. to spread a motorcycle safety message for riders and awareness from car drivers. He visits the Department Of Motor Vehicles office in every state’s capital, where he hand delivers a request that the authorities consider including motorcycle awareness in both the driver’s license exam and the state’s drivers’ education curriculum.
Hudson’s journey is being sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company, and he’s riding a tricked out Indian Roadmaster donated by Indian Motorcycle painted in Allstate blue with logo and trim. So any photo of his bike, therefore, becomes a social-media ad for Allstate.
Posts and pictures about “The Ride Of Awareness” are published on social media channels, from Instagram to Twitter to Facebook, an efficient and credible user-generated content reaching online many more bikers than any television spot or print ad.
PAKISTANI POLICE EXEMPT FEMALE PASSENGERS FROM WEARING HELMETS
Reacting to public protests over a traffic regulation in which it was made mandatory for motorcycle riders as well as pillions (passengers) to wear a helmet, including women, police in Karachi have announced exempting female pillion riders from wearing a helmet.
Inspector General (IG) Sindh Police, Ghulam Haider Jamali announced here on June 10 that the decision was made after the repeated appeals of citizens. In an earlier statement, the police said in case of riding pillion without helmets, both will be fined, regardless of whether the pillion is male or female.
The people took the decision with a violent reaction when it was made mandatory for women as well to wear a helmet as a passenger, and some citizens also contacted the court in this regard to exempt women from this sanction. But before the court could take any action, IG Police keeping in view a number of complaints, appeals and violent reaction by the public, immediately announced to withdraw its decision, so now following the announcement women are exempted from the restriction to wear a helmet as a pillion rider.
SURVEY REVEALS RIDERS’ PET PEEVES
In an online survey of motorcyclists conducted in June by Erie Insurance, nationwide respondents were asked to share their top five pet peeves about both other motorcycle riders and car drivers:
Top Five Complaints About Fellow Riders: #1: Riding Recklessly (ie: speeding, weaving through traffic, doing wheelies) – 56%; #2: Passing on the Shoulder – 41%; #3: Lane Splitting – 36%; #4: Wearing shorts, sandals, tank tops, etc – 35%; #5: Riders who don’t wear helmets – 28%.
Top Five Complaints About Vehicle Drivers: #1: Drivers who don’t check their blind spots before changing lanes – 55%; #2: Texting while driving – 53%; #3: Reckless Driving (i.e., speeding, weaving in and out of traffic) – 50%; #4: Drivers who tailgate – 43%; #5: Not signaling when turning or changing lanes – 42%.