Bikers' Rights: Open Letter to NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason (That's My Money You Are Misusing, Ms. Nason)

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Open Letter to NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason
("That's My Money You Are Misusing, Ms. Nason.")
Release Number 0017

Motorcycling Endurance Riders
Bikers Rights, Motorcyclists Rights, Long Distance Motorcycle Riding

Extreme Long Distance Endurance Motorcycle Rider IronBoltBruce From: IronBoltBruce [mailto: Bruce@LdrLongDistanceRider.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2007 10:41 AM
To: 'NHTSA.custservice@dot.gov'
Subject: Open Letter to NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason ("That's My Money You Are Misusing, Ms. Nason.")

Nicole R. Nason
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NHTSA Headquarters
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
West Building
Washington, DC 20590
Telephone: 1-888-327-4236
Email: Submitted via NHTSA.custservice@dot.gov et al

Ms. Nason:

CBS News has quoted you as saying that, in your role as NHTSA Administrator, "I love knowing that at the end of the day, what we are try[ing] to do--what I am trying to do--is make a vehicle safer for my children..."


...and one need only glance at the "Quick Clicks" section of the new "NHTSA.dot.gov" web pages for evidence of your pursuit of that personal agenda.

If your mission in life is to make automobiles "safer for your children", Ms. Nason, that is admirable. But if that has skewed your focus as to what you are supposed to be doing as the administrator of a 750-employee federal bureacracy spending millions of taxpayer dollars annually, that is unacceptable. Here is what your commitment SHOULD be:

"NHTSA is committed to providing the most accurate and complete information available to its customers, the American traveling public, in a helpful and courteous fashion."


YOU ARE NOT HONORING THAT COMMITMENT, MS. NASON. Since you assumed the position of NHTSA Administrator in May 2006, you have effectively closed off all agency communications with the public or press except through you. As Christopher Jensen of the New York Times reported in "What's Off the Record at N.H.T.S.A.? Almost Everything":

"The agency's new policy effectively means that some of the world's top safety researchers are no longer allowed to talk to reporters or to be freely quoted about automotive safety issues that affect pretty much everybody.... 'My God,' said Joan Claybrook, who was N.H.T.S.A. administrator from 1977 to 1981 and is now president of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group. Given that N.H.T.S.A. is the leading source of automotive safety information in the United States, its researchers are public officials and people are entitled to 'know what information they have, whether it is on paper or in their heads,' Ms. Claybrook said."


Given your attempt to avoid public scrutiny by restricting agency-to-media communications, access to information through your NHTSA website becomes all the more crucial. And what has happened there since you took over? A major "upgrade" ... one unnecessary casualty of which was many resource references which are now "broken links" like this one:


SO MUCH FOR "HELPFUL AND COURTEOUS", MS. NASON. Let's now take a look at how you're doing in the "accurate and complete information" department, specifically with respect to this recent report:

DOT HS 810 834 September 2007 Fatal Two-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes http://tinyurl.com/273y2f

The stated purpose of this report is to "...analyze fatal two-vehicle motorcycle crashes for trends and crash characteristics using FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) data [and to] identify possible factors relating to the drivers/operators in these crashes [so as to] understand possible causes for these crashes." And what were the findings?

Many of your "findings" in this report are obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of motorcycling and a little common sense. Of course, "the role of the motorcycle was recorded as the striking vehicle" in most cases! That is what happens when a negligent, care-less, distracted or cellphone conversation-impaired motorist turns left or pulls out in front of a motorcyclist! And of course, "more than 90 percent of the two-vehicle motorcycle crashes involving passenger vehicles occurred on non-interstate roadways"! Roads without median barriers make it easier for irresponsible drivers to violate a motorcyclist's right-of-way!

What wasn't so obvious was the implication of this conclusion on page 7:

"For the passenger vehicle drivers involved in [fatal] two-vehicle motorcycle crashes, 35 percent of the driver-related factor was failure to yield right-of-way compared to only 4 percent for motorcycle operators."

Any cub reporter (wait and see) will interpret that to mean that the automobile driver was at fault in these accidents only 35 percent of the time, which would conversely mean that "it was the biker's fault" 65 percent of the time. Is that what this conclusion was intended to convey, Ms. Nason? Well, you and I know that is neither accurate nor complete information, is it?

The truth can be found, well obfuscated, in Table 22 on page 30. The obfuscation begins with your selection of a data presentation format in which the "...sums of the numbers and percents are greater than the total drivers as each driver may be coded with more than one factor." The obfuscation is perfected by using a doubletalk category breakdown in which driver offenses like making improper turns, failure to keep in proper lane, failure to obey traffic signs or signals, and even driving on the wrong side of road are reported separately and thereby partially or entirely EXCLUDED FROM THE 35 PERCENT RIGHT-OF-WAY VIOLATION STATISTIC. The truth can be found, Ms. Nason, by applying this formula:

1 - ((711 + 26) / 1792) = 0.588727679

Logic precludes any double counting in the "None reported" or "Unknown" categories, and for all other categories, the automobile driver either caused or contributed to the death of the motorcyclist. So the truth is, Ms. Nason, that AUTOMOBILE DRIVERS WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR EITHER CAUSING OR CONTRIBUTING TO THE DEATHS OF AT LEAST 58.87% OF ALL BIKERS KILLED IN TW0-VEHICLE CRASHES IN 2005.

THAT is "accurate and complete information", Ms. Nason. So why isn't THAT statistic included in your report? And how much other "accurate and complete information" that conflicts with your misguided, Haddonistic view of the world...


...are you spinning, obfuscating or just outright excluding from all the other "traffic safety information" reports you are fabricating at the taxpayers' expense?

That's MY money you are misusing, Ms. Nason.

Speaking strictly for myself and no other entities or organizations,


Author and Publisher, LdrLongDistanceRider.com
Co-Moderator, Bruce-n-Ray's Biker Forum
Premier Member, Iron Butt Association
Sustaining Member, Motorcycle Riders Foundation
2007 Chairman's Circle, American Motorcyclist Association


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