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Bikers Rights, Motorcycle Rights, Motorcyclists Rights

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Bruce on Bikers Rights/Motorcyclists Rights
By IronBoltBruce
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RESPOND TO THE NHTSA RFC
March 2006

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

IronBoltBruce on Bikers Rights, Motorcyclists Rights, MRO The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently published their Amendments to Highway Safety Program Guidelines [Docket No. NHTSA-2005-23090], which issues a public request for comments (RFC) on six proposed amendments, including significant changes to Motorcycle Safety Guideline No. 3.

The open comment period is currently set to close on March 13, which gives motorcyclists' rights advocates a narrow but crucial window of opportunity to voice their opinion on the proposed changes. With the hope this might encourage freedom fighters everywhere to stand up and speak your mind, here is some information to help you decide on WHAT to say and HOW to say it.


WHAT TO SAY

No matter whether you want to comment on helmet-related or other motorcycle-related issues ... and regardless of whether your message is pro- or anti-helmet or pro- or anti-helmet law (which are not the same thing) ... I suggest you keep your comments within the context of the specific guideline changes that NHTSA is proposing. To expedite your analysis of those changes, you can review the side-by-side comparison of the current versus proposed wording of Motorcycle Safety Guideline No. 3 presented below.

A word to the wise: If you are truly opposed to helmet wearing as well as helmet laws, you may be tempted to make the all too common and unfortunate assertions that helmets are unsafe, that they block peripheral vision, or that their weight can cause neck injuries. None of these claims are absolute truths, and you will gain no ground with NHTSA by attempting to use them to challenge their helmet guidelines. NexlSports.com, for example, offers a half-coverage "beanie" helmet that (a) does not impair peripheral vision, (b) weighs no more than 26 ounces, and (c) is fully compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.


NHTSA HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM
GUIDELINE No. 3
MOTORCYCLE SAFETY
(current NHTSA guidelines)

[Introduction]

Each State, in cooperation with its political subdivisions, should have a comprehensive program to promote motorcycle safety and prevent motorcycle-related injuries. To be effective in reducing the number of motorcycle crash deaths and injuries, State programs should address the use of helmets and other protective gear, proper licensing, impaired riding, rider training, conspicuity, and motorist awareness. This Motorcycle Safety Program Guideline will assist States and local communities in the development and implementation of effective motorcycle safety programs.
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

[Introduction]

Each State, in cooperation with its political subdivisions and tribal governments, should develop and implement a comprehensive highway safety program, reflective of State demographics, to achieve a significant reduction in traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries on public roads. The highway safety program should include a comprehensive motorcycle safety program that aims to reduce motorcycle crashes and related deaths and injuries. Each comprehensive State motorcycle safety program should address the use of helmets (meeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218) and other protective gear, proper licensing, impaired riding, rider training, conspicuity and motorist awareness. This guideline describes the components that a State motorcycle safety program should include and the criteria that the program components should meet.
(current NHTSA guidelines)

I. Program Management

Each State should identify the nature and extent of its motorcycle safety problems, establish goals and objectives for the State's motorcycle safety program, and implement projects to reach the goals and objectives. State motorcycle safety plans should:

A. Designate a lead agency for motorcycle safety;
B. Develop funding sources;
C. Collect and analyze data on motorcycle safety;
D. Identify the State's motorcycle safety problem areas;
E. Develop programs (with specific projects) to address problems;
F. Coordinate motorcycle projects with those for the general motoring public;
G. Integrate motorcycle safety into community/corridor traffic safety and other injury control programs; and
H. Include passage and enforcement of mandatory motorcycle helmet legislation.
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

I. Program Management

Each State should have centralized program planning, implementation and coordination to identify the nature and extent of its motorcycle safety problems, to establish goals and objectives for the State's motorcycle safety program and to implement projects to reach the goals and objectives. State motorcycle safety plans should:

· Designate a lead agency for motorcycle safety;
· Develop funding sources;
· Collect and analyze data on motorcycle crashes, injuries and fatalities;
· Identify and prioritize the State's motorcycle safety problem areas;
· Encourage collaboration among agencies and organizations responsible for, or impacted by, motorcycle safety issues;
· Develop programs (with specific projects) to address problems;
· Coordinate motorcycle safety projects with those for the general motoring public;
· Integrate motorcycle safety into State strategic highway safety plans, and other related highway safety activities including impaired driving, occupant protection, speed management and driver licensing programs; and
· Routinely evaluate motorcycle safety programs and services.
(current NHTSA guidelines)

II. Motorcycle Personal Protective Equipment

Each State should encourage motorcycle operators and passengers to use the following protective equipment:

A. Motorcycle helmets that meet the Federal helmet standard (their use should be required by law);
B. Proper clothing, including gloves, boots, long pants, and a durable long-sleeved jacket; and
C. Eye (which should be required by law) and face protection.
Additionally, each passenger should be provided a seat and footrest.
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

II. Motorcycle Personal Protective Equipment

Each State should support passage and enforcement of mandatory all-rider motorcycle helmet use laws. In addition, each State should encourage motorcycle operators and passengers to use the following protective equipment through an aggressive communication campaign:

· Motorcycle helmets that meet the Federal helmet standard;
· Proper clothing, including gloves, boots, long pants and a durable longsleeved jacket; and
· Eye and face protection.
Additionally, each passenger should have a seat and footrest.
(current NHTSA guidelines)

III. Motorcycle Operator Licensing

States should require every person who operates a motorcycle on public roadways to pass an examination designed especially for motorcycle operation and to hold a license endorsement specifically authorizing motorcycle operation. Each State should have a motorcycle licensing system that requires:

A. Motorcycle operator's manual;
B. Motorcycle license examination, including knowledge and skill tests, and State licensing medical criteria;
C. License examiner training;
D. Motorcycle license endorsement;
E. Motorcycle license renewal requirements;
F. Learner's permit issued for a period of 90 days and limits on the number or frequency of learner's permits issued per applicant; and
G. Penalties for violation of motorcycle licensing requirements.
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

III. Motorcycle Operator Licensing

States should require every person who operates a motorcycle on public roadways to pass an examination designed especially for motorcycle operation and to hold a license endorsement specifically authorizing motorcycle operation. Each State should have a motorcycle licensing system that requires:

· Motorcycle operator's manual that contains essential safe riding information;
· Motorcycle license examination, including knowledge and skill tests, and State licensing medical criteria;
· License examiner training specific to testing of motorcyclists;
· Motorcycle license endorsement;
· Cross referencing of motorcycle registrations with motorcycle licenses to identify motorcycle owners who may not have the proper endorsement;
· Motorcycle license renewal requirements;
· Learner's permits issued for a period of 90 days and the establishment of limits on the number and frequency of learner's permits issued per applicant to encourage each motorcyclist to get full endorsement; and
· Penalties for violation of motorcycle licensing requirements.
(current NHTSA guidelines)

IV. Motorcycle Rider Education and Training

Safe motorcycle operation requires specialized training by qualified instructors. State should establish a State Motorcycle Rider Education Program that provides

A. Source of program funding;
B. State organization to administer the program;
C. Use of Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum or equivalent State-approved curriculum;
D. Reasonable availability of rider education courses for all interested residents legal riding age;
E. Instructor training and certification;
F. Incentives for successful course completion such as licensing skills test exemption;
G. Quality control of the program;
H. Ability to purchase insurance for the program;
I. State guidelines for conduct of the program; and
J. Program evaluation.
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

IV. Motorcycle Rider Education and Training

Safe motorcycle operation requires specialized training by qualified instructors. Each State should establish a State Motorcycle Rider Education Program that has:

· A source of program funding;
· A state organization to administer the program;
· A mandate to use the Stateapproved curriculum;
· Reasonable availability of rider education courses for all interested residents of legal riding age;
· A documented policy for instructor training and certification;
· Incentives for successful course completion such as licensing test exemption;
· A plan to address the backlog of training, if applicable;
· State guidelines for conduct and quality control of the program; and
· A program evaluation plan.
(current NHTSA guidelines)

V. Motorcycle Operation While Impaired by Alcohol or Other Drugs

Each State should ensure that programs addressing impaired driving include a focus motorcycles.

The following programs should include an emphasis on impaired motorcyclists:
A. Community/corridor traffic safety and other injury control programs;
B. Public information and education campaigns;
C. Youth impaired driving programs;
D. Law enforcement programs;
E. Judge and prosecutor training programs;
F. Anti-impaired driving organizations; and
G. College and school programs.
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

V. Motorcycle Operation Under the Influence of Alcohol or Other Drugs

Each State should ensure that programs addressing impaired driving include an impaired motorcyclist component. The following programs should be used to reach impaired motorcyclists:

· Community traffic safety and other injury control programs, including outreach to motorcyclist clubs and organizations;
· Youth anti-impaired driving programs and campaigns;
· High visibility law enforcement programs and communications campaigns;
· Judge and prosecutor training programs;
· Anti-impaired driving organizations' programs;
· College and school programs;
· Workplace safety programs;
· Event-based programs such as motorcycle rallies, shows, etc.; and
· Server training programs.
 
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

VI. Legislation and Regulations

Each State should enact and enforce motorcycle-related traffic laws and regulations, including laws that require all riders to use motorcycle helmets compliant with the Federal helmet standard. Specific policies should be developed to encourage coordination with appropriate public and private agencies in the development of regulations and laws to promote motorcycle safety.
 
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

VII. Law Enforcement

Each State should ensure that State and community motorcycle safety programs include a law enforcement component. Each State should emphasize strongly the role played by law enforcement personnel in motorcycle safety. Essential components of that role include:

· Developing knowledge of motorcycle crash situations, investigating crashes, and maintaining a reporting system that documents crash activity and supports problem identification and evaluation activities;
· Providing communication and education support;
· Providing training to law enforcement personnel in motorcycle safety, including how to identify impaired motorcycle operators and helmets that do not meet FMVSS 218; and
· Establishing agency goals to support motorcycle safety.
 
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

VIII. Highway Engineering

Traffic engineering is a critical element of any crash reduction program. This is true not only for the development of programs to reduce an existing crash problem, but also to design transportation facilities that provide for the safe movement of motorcyclists and all other motor vehicles.
Balancing the needs of motorcyclists must always be considered. Therefore, each State should ensure that State and community motorcycle safety programs include a traffic-engineering component that is coordinated with enforcement and educational efforts. This engineering component should improve the safety of motorcyclists through the design, construction, operation and maintenance of engineering measures. These measures may include, but should not be limited to:

· Considering motorcycle needs when selecting pavement skid factors; and
· Providing advance warning signs to alert motorcyclists to unusual or irregular roadway surfaces.
(current NHTSA guidelines)

VI. Motorcycle Rider Conspicuity and Motorist Awareness Programs

State motorcycle safety programs should emphasize the issues of rider conspicuity and motorist awareness of motorcycles. These programs should address:

A. Daytime use of motorcycle lights;
B. Brightly colored clothing and reflective materials for motorcycle riders and motorcycle helmets with high daytime and nighttime conspicuity;
C. Lane positioning of motorcycles to increase vehicle visibility;
D. Reasons why motorists do not see motorcycles; and
E. Ways that other motorists can increase their awareness of motorcyclists.
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

IX. Motorcycle Rider Conspicuity and Motorist Awareness Programs

State motorcycle safety programs, communication campaigns and state motor vehicle operator manuals should emphasize the issues of rider conspicuity and motorist awareness of motorcycles. These programs should address:

· Daytime use of motorcycle headlights;
· Brightly colored clothing and reflective materials for motorcycle riders and motorcycle helmets with high daytime and nighttime conspicuity;
· Lane positioning of motorcycles to increase vehicle visibility;
· Reasons why motorists do not see motorcycles; and
· Ways that other motorists can increase their awareness of motorcyclists.
 
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

X. Communication Program

States should develop and implement communications strategies directed at specific high-risk populations as identified by data. Communications should highlight and support specific policy and progress underway in the States and communities and should be culturally relevant and appropriate to the audience. States should:

· Focus their communication efforts to support the overall policy and program;
· Review data to identify populations at risk; and
· Use a mix of media strategies to draw attention to the problem.
 
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

[XI. Missing, Excluded or Omitted]

 
(proposed NHTSA guidelines)

XII. Program Evaluation and Data

Both problem identification and continual evaluation require effective record keeping by State and local government. The State should identify the frequency and types of motorcycle crashes. After problem identification is complete, the State should identify appropriate countermeasures.
The State should promote effective evaluation by:

· Supporting the analysis of police crash reports involving motorcyclists;
· Encouraging, supporting and training localities in process, impact and outcome evaluation of local programs;
· Conducting and publicizing statewide surveys of public knowledge and attitudes about motorcycle safety;
· Maintaining awareness of trends in motorcycle crashes at the national level and how trends might influence activities statewide;
· Evaluating the use of program resources and the effectiveness of existing countermeasures for the general public and high-risk population; and
· Ensuring that evaluation results are used to identify problems, plan new programs and improve existing programs.


HOW TO SAY IT

You can submit comments in writing to:

Docket Management, Room PL-401
400 Seventh Street, SW.
Washington, DC 20590

Alternatively, you can submit your comments electronically by logging onto the DOT Docket Management System website (assuming it is back online):

http://dms.dot.gov/submit/

Their electronic submissions help page is here:

http://dms.dot.gov/help/es_help.cfm

Again, the current deadline for comments is March 13 2006, so please do your homework and file your comments as soon as possible.

Until Next Time ... Ride Long, Ride Free!

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