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The Ride of the One Hundred

A call-to-arms bold riders sent
From Carolina’s coast:
One hundred showed, one hundred rode
To save what matters most.

The puppets of the duffers schemed
To take our rights away;
So a hundred rode, one hundred showed
To charge into the fray.

The skies were gray and cloudy at
The dawning of the fight;
But a hundred showed, one hundred rode
Through rain and cold, in spite.

Beaver’s lair, they gathered there,
At high noon lines they formed;
Then a hundred rode, one hundred showed
The mettle for the storm.

North they rolled, their route foretold,
King’s Highway was betrayed;
Still a hundred rode, one hundred showed
No fear along the way.

Into a blue-light gauntlet, lined
With patriots wishing well;
One hundred showed, by how they rode,
Their spirit would not fail.

Then from all sides at once they came,
The cruisers wheeled and swerved
‘Til no more rode; but a hundred showed
Their steel of will and nerve.

The battle for our liberties
Goes on throughout the land;
But a hundred showed, when a hundred rode,
How all can make a stand.


A Biker Funeral

Dedicated to Tripp

Sunday morning early comes
This sweltering summer’s day;
Chrome and coffee polished off
As bike and rider wake,

And rumble off to clubhouse for
A changing of the brew;
Black vests in formation–fast
and tight–a loud tribute.

Iron horses, hundreds strong,
Come thund’ring through the gate;
Sleeping souls on notice, fallen
Biker nears his fate.

A mile of gleaming metal lines
The circle and the park;
Out of saddles, boots hit brick
And make for chapel’s heart.

Members of the Club stand post,
Proud brothers in the wind;
Shaded eyes the tears disguise,
And loss they feel within.

Friends and family pay respects
To biker and his mate;
Praises made and prayers raised,
Blues legends resonate.

Final words and kisses, then
The pipes’ Amazing Grace;
Souls of bike and rider seek
Eternal resting place.

Sunday morning early comes
This sweltering summer’s day;
One more rider, Heaven bound,
Roars through the Pearly Gates.


I Ride Mine

I ride mine, for a motorcycle’s
Meant to ride, you see;
Not hauled around by trailer,
I keep rubber on the street.

I ride mine when I go to work,
And home again each day;
Or just to twist the throttle hard,
And blow my cares away.

I ride mine through cold winter winds,
And showers of the spring;
Baking in the summer sun
‘Til autumn’s cool refrain.

I ride mine through the glare of day,
And darkness of the night;
Sole form of conveyance, never
Caged, or bound in flight.

I ride mine in the cities, ’round
The counties, o’r the states;
Cruise across the country,
Tour wherever asphalt takes.

I ride mine for the friendship of
My brothers in the wind;
Trusting they will have my back,
On me they can depend.

I ride mine for the freedom found
In open, empty roads;
Pure exhilaration with each
Turn as curve unfolds.

My life is in the saddle ’til
I meet my mortal end;
Then through the gates of Heaven or Hell
I ride mine once again.

— Ironbolt Bruce

Bruce on Bikers’ Rights – 2008 thru 2009

Battle Escalates Against Riders’ Freedom of Choice (Part 2)

December 2007

Written by Dave Christy, Bikers’ Rights Advocate, Colorado

In Part 1 of this commentary, I stated the case for motorcyclists’ preservation of Freedom of Choice as opposed to the relentless governmental and regulatory pressure to “conform” motorcyclists to the failed paradigm of passive safety protection:

A very large and distinct part of the agenda of governmental and institutional highway safety agencies and organizations, as well as some of that of the insurance and medical fields, is to influence public opinion via press releases and use of a willing news media (in all its forms) to broadly disseminate the information. As concerns motorcyclists, we could also term it as misinformation, due to exemption of other relative data. Most always containing statistical figures relating to motorcycling fatalities, and possibly accident injury numbers, this is designed to elicit “shock value” and mortification from the public and action from legislators. It is also a slick marketing and sales job put forth to gullible people, who have little depth of insight and knowledge at it relates in the context of the whole:

By inference, the message is “You motorcycle riders – when you don’t wear a helmet and you get hurt – are costing the public money. And when you get killed, it’s because you weren’t wearing a helmet!”

Think about it — when the news media reports a motorcycling fatality, and if the deceased “wasn’t wearing a helmet” they’re quite likely to tell their reading/listening audience exactly that. The inference is absorbed due to human tendency to believe what you read and hear, particularly if it is repeated with enough incessant fervor, until it manifests itself into the public and legislative psyche so as to be ultimately perceived as fact. “My insurance dollars are paying for this!” says the Non-Rider, “And so are my tax dollars! They (motorcyclists) are getting into my pocket! Something must be done!” And then, by extension and (flawed) derivative thinking, we motorcyclists are somehow viewed as non-payers into the health care and insurance systems. Thusly, the Social/Public Burden Theory is seeded and born. The purveyors of this logic know exactly what they are doing. YOU, as a motorcyclist, are far too often considered a public liability.

“Propaganda is persuading people to make up their minds while withholding some of the facts from them.”–Harold Evans

For our purposes, the Social Burden Theory is an insidious, reprehensible and disgusting tactic used to discriminate against motorcyclists and their freedom-of-choice and autonomy by portraying motorcyclists as a money drain. Worse yet, it creates cultural division among the American population by targeting a particular minority segment of the road-using transport mix by assigning unfounded blame; a segment freely engaged in a legal activity. Worsening further still, we have motorcyclists within our ranks beginning to bicker among themselves and pointing fingers at each other because some have come to believe the ‘theory.’ I’m going to relate truth and logic to you, which I hope you’ll retain and use to refute and debunk arguments about motorcyclists as ‘social burden’ in the face of our adversaries in this matter.

“[This] is a world in which facts always bow to feelings. What matters is not so much that you do good, but that you feel virtuous, or perhaps more to the point, are seen to be virtuous.”–Mona Charen

There is an argument I’d like to address before delving into social burden, and that is the rationale often proffered in the helmet debates, usually by a motorist writing a letter to a newspaper. It goes like this: “If I have to wear a seat belt, you should have to wear a helmet.” Well, here’s what I know and my reply: 1) A seat belt is a restraint device that’s integrated in the build of your vehicle; a helmet is not an integral part of a motorcycle, nor can it be made so. (I suppose a legislature could pass a law declaring it so, but then the law would be a lie, wouldn’t it?) 2) Maybe you “have to wear a seat belt” because you didn’t come out and publicly oppose this legislative intrusion on your body, yes? Sounds like sour grapes to me…

Belts and helmets–they’re available if you want to use them–you decide.

Public Medical money: The Social Burden Theory translates into money–bottom line, money gets attention. It’s a powerful lobbying weapon used to influence legislative policy, to include helmet decisions. The states (legislatures) have to “manage” public medical care (or Medicaid and Medicare) dollar expenditures. These public dollars (yours, mine, and ours–since the government has no money of its’ own) also fund many medical programs outside of trauma care. Some legislators believe, or are prodded into believing, that motorcyclists, when injured, lack private sector insurance of scale so as to be a considerable drain of Medicare and Medicaid dollars. Is it the truth? Two words for the proponents of this belief: PROVE IT! Request they produce the figures (if they’re even available) of motorcycling injury medical dollar expenditures, and placed in the context of all public dollars expended on medical care, the number of people cared for, and the potential number dependent on that public care. In comparison, it’s likely miniscule.

Using my home state as an example, our Colorado government estimates (probably conservatively) we have almost 800,000 medically uninsured, or about 17% of the population. This figure would probably include some people who ride motorcycles. At any given time, any of these folks are dependent on publicly-funded medical care, for any reason under the sun. Shall we paint all these folks with the brush of ‘Social Burden?’ Using the logic, after all, what’s the difference between “us” and “them?”

Private-sector insurance–vehicles: Insurance companies sell us insurance to protect from losses that can occur to some members (policyholders) in the risk pool. Motorcyclists are placed into motorcycling risk pools to spread the cost of losses. These are separate from automobile policies. The policies generally incorporate Comprehensive, Collision and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist protection with the option of tiered Medical Payments Coverage for additional premium. As motorcyclists, we participate particularly well in these risk pools, generally higher than motorist’s average in theirs. In my home state, liability insurance is a mandatory requirement. Most (if not all) states have the same requirement. I should also state that in spite of the laws, approximately 40% of Colorado drivers lack automobile insurance. I suspect the figure is paralleled in many other states. Is this not also a social burden? If you are injured as a result of someone else’s actions, their liability insurance is to pay for your medical as well as property loss. If they are uninsured or underinsured, the UI/UIM portion of your policy “kicks in” to help make up the cost differential. If you cause an accident, your liability insurance pays for the other party’s loss and medical.

Private-sector insurance–health: Studies have shown that motorcyclists obtain and maintain private sector health insurance policies at rate equal or better than the public at-large. Your medical/health insurance plans might be employer-sponsored where your employer picks up some of the premium cost and you pay the rest through payroll deduction. Or perhaps you buy health insurance on your own. Either way, as a participant in a health and medical care plan you are paying in to protect yourself from high personal financial losses in the event of major medical expenses that can be due to any number of factors–the same as anyone else. One of the troubling concerns of our time is people unable to obtain affordable health insurance. It is becoming more cost-prohibitive all the time and affects the entire general population. The federal government says approximately 75 million Americans have no private health insurance. Health care costs continue to spiral out of control and citizens have little or no control over those prices.

The Medical Lobby: Medical field professionals often lobby and testify in hearings as to the cost of treating motorcycling-related injury, and they get legislators’ attention. But wait a minute! Isn’t health insurance supposed to pay for the unforeseen? And if medical procedures and treatments cost so much, who establishes the prices? The irony here is that it is the medical field itself, which these testifiers and lobbyists are a part of.

They will also describe the horrific nature of some injuries, for effect and to gain sympathy and empathy to leverage their position. None of the trauma is unknown to the motorcycling community. Motorcyclists are very aware of the realities of the road. We should always state our truth that no one cares more about motorcycling safety than motorcyclists themselves, and we continue to improve ourselves through self-empowerment.

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”–Ernest Benn

The medical field accomplishes wonderful things, and we all have some faith and reliance on their people. Their spokespersons are entitled to their say in testimonies and advice. However, they are not experts in our field. It is also a known fact that over 100,000 people die annually due to “medical mistakes,” more than 20 times the number of annual motorcycling fatalities. That’s about 280 average everyday, folks. I think no one should say our ‘house’ is dirty when their own needs a further effort and good cleaning. How is it that a dead motorcyclist without a helmet makes the news, but a hospital patient dead from infection or the wrong meds doesn’t?

We All Pay for Everything, Everyday: You’re a taxpayer. Do you work? What did you buy today? Groceries, fuel, household goods? Pay the light, heating, and phone bill? Then you paid tax on every item, including your labor (paycheck) income. Government has no money of its own–it gets it from you in the form of taxes, fees, and surcharges. Our elected officials in government establish the tax levies and create all the public programs that rely on your money and my money for funding. None of us gets to “opt out” of these built-in payment strategies. For anyone to suggest that motorcyclists (who are also regular people) don’t pay, is hallucinating…

“People are beginning to realize that the apparatus of government is costly. But what they do not know is that the burden falls inevitably on them.– Frederic Bastiat

Social/Public Burden as a Slippery Slope: We can go downhill in our society in a hurry if we adopt the logic of the “I’m paying for you” crowd. Let’s list just a few things that can also be considered as Social Burden: Income tax, sales tax, property tax, fuel tax, inheritance tax, any tax, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, insurance premiums, the Welfare state and all its’ assistance programs and derivatives, the War in Iraq, the salaries and retirement pensions of bureaucrats and legislators whose politics I don’t care for, etc., etc… The list is almost endless. Most people I know aren’t exactly pleased with their forced monetary contribution load in all of its forms, but the fact is, we all contribute and have some dependence on each other–that’s the system.

The worst aspect of government is to pass law that serves an agenda and steals liberties at the same time:

Overbearing, intrusive, and big government is the biggest Social Burden of all.

Written by Dave Christy (email: )


Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!

Open Letter to the Union for Reform Judaism

November 2007 (Special Edition)

“Bad Results from Good Intentions: The High Cost of Helmet Laws”

My thanks to Lynn Wesley, Joseph Heh, Shirley Vandever and Garry Van Kirk for their input and inspiration!–Bruce


28 October 2007

Union for Reform Judaism
Attn: Emily Grotta, Director of Marketing & Communications (
633 Third Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10017-6778

To Jennifer Kaufman, Chair, 2007 Resolutions Committee:

According to page 22 of your “Proposed Resolutions for the 69th General Assembly” of the Union for Reform Judaism (“URJ”) to be held in San Diego, CA on December 12-16, 2007…

…one of the resolutions to be proposed reads as follows:

“THEREFORE, the Union for Reform Judaism resolves to: … “Call on state, provincial and local governments to strengthen and enforce safety legislation, such as mandatory helmet and seatbelt laws that can reduce TBIs [traumatic brain injuries];”

If the intent of this resolution is to lobby for laws that place helmets on the heads of ALL motor vehicle operators and occupants, then you can ignore the rest of this letter. If on the other hand the intent is to lobby for mandatory helmet laws that apply to motorcyclists only, please read on.

I don’t know enough about the socio-political agenda of the URJ to speculate as to how this resolution came about, so I will assume that it was proposed with the best of intentions, i.e. to reduce human suffering and save lives. And if that assumption is correct, then I’m afraid I have some bad news for you:


Yes, there can be no question that wearing helmets may reduce injuries and save lives. But the issue here is not the utility of helmets. The issue is the futility of helmet laws. Viewed from an overall perspective, mandatory motorcycle helmet laws do not yield a net social benefit. Instead, they create a significant opportunity cost. I offer the following three points in support of this contention:

1. Motorcycle Helmet Laws Have No Significant Impact on Traumatic Brain Injuries.

According to the Center for Disease Control…

…of the 1.4 million who sustain TBI each year, 1.1 million are quickly treated and released. Of the 50,000 who die and the 235,000 who are hospitalized, “…the two age groups at highest risk for TBI are 0 to 4 year olds and 15 to 19 year olds”. Only 20% of all TBIs are motor vehicle related, which represents 10,000 deaths and 47,000 serious injuries. And if the breakdown from the 1995-1996 study quoted here remains accurate…

…only 6% of that 20% relates to motorcycles. In other words, ONLY 1.2% OF TBIs ARE MOTORCYCLE-RELATED, which represents only 600 deaths and 2,820 serious injuries. And for the URJ, that in turn means that YOUR PROPOSED RESOLUTION TO LOBBY FOR MANDATORY MOTORCYCLE HELMET LAWS FAILS TO ADDRESS 98.8% OF THE TBI PROBLEM.

I’d say that’s a pretty ineffective way to “reduce human suffering and save lives”, wouldn’t you? Surely the URJ can find a more rewarding way to invest your humanitarian resources!

2. Helmet Laws Cost Lives by Impeding More Effective Motorcycle Safety Policies.

The Law of Unintended Consequences tells us that almost all human actions will have at least one unexpected result. Nowhere do we see this axiom substantiated more so than in social legislation and public policy in general…

…and mandatory motorcycle helmet laws in particular. Helmet laws are the quintessence of “feel good” legislation. They are aggressively promoted by Haddonistic safetycrats as the cure-all for motorcycle safety…

…when the fact is, statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) indicate that last year, if we had strapped a helmet on the head of every American motorcyclist for every mile they road for the entire year, no more than 747 lives would have been saved:

I am not saying that those 747 lives are not important, but the sad fact is that they represent less than 16% of the 4,810 motorcycle fatalities that occurred in 2006 (2,792–58%–of which were wearing helmets and died anyway). What I am saying is that by focusing on a policy that impacts only 16% of the problem, we take attention, awareness and resources away from initiatives that would have a far better chance of reducing human suffering and saving lives by addressing the other 84 percent:

So as you can see, URJ, your proposed resolution to lobby for mandatory motorcycle helmet laws is not just an ineffective strategy for reducing TBIs. It also misses the mark when it comes to saving motorcyclists’ lives!

3. Focusing on Motorcycle Safety Detracts From Greater Live-Saving Social Potentials.

I commend the URJ for its efforts to reduce the human suffering and loss of life associated with traumatic brain injuries, but I hope you now see that lobbying for mandatory motorcycle helmet laws will have about as much impact on TBIs as throwing spitballs at a battleship. And to the extent that your proposal might have been made with the intention of reducing motorcycle fatalities, I thank you … BUT … please understand that by focusing on the 16% that might be saved by crash survival rather than the 84% that might be saved by crash prevention, you are needlessly increasing motorcycle casualties, and sacrificing lives rather than saving them. I also challenge you to ask yourself the following question:


If your motive truly is to “reduce human suffering and save lives”, surely you can quickly compile a long list of worthy humanitarian causes that do not entail the discrimination, high opportunity costs and questionable social benefits associated with mandatory helmet laws. I’ll even give you three ideas to point you in the right direction:

(1) If you want to make a positive impact in the transportation safety arena, consider lobbying to restrict cell phone conversations while driving. As I wrote to National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) Chairman Mark Rosenker:

“…you either knew or should have known that (a) we have 236 million cellphone subscribers on our roadways, (b) 73% of them are talking while they are driving, (c) cellphone conversations impair their driving skills as much if they were intoxicated with alcohol, consequently (d) they are four times more likely to cause or be involved in an accident than motorists who responsibly shut up and steer, and resultantly (e) assuming reports of the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office are a reliable measure, roughly ONE IN FOUR ACCIDENTS in 2006 occurred when a driver was talking on the phone. So barring evidence to the contrary, as NTSB Chairman you either knew or should have known that it would be reasonable to assume that cellphone conversation-impaired motorists could have been responsible for 25 percent (or more) of the 2,575,000 traffic injuries and 42,642 traffic fatalities reported by NHTSA for 2006… And rather than using the taxpayer-provided resources of your bureaucratic office to pursue restrictions on the use of cell phones while driving, which might have saved 10,660 lives (25% of 42,642 fatalities) last year, you chose instead to go on what the press calls a mandatory helmet law ‘crusade’, which in comparison might have saved at best only [747] lives. Had you made the responsible choice, Mr. Rosenker, our nation could be saving almost 15 TIMES AS MANY LIVES by restricting the use of cellphones by drivers rather than requiring helmets for riders.”

(2) Or what about a national health care initiative with even greater life-saving potentials? What if you could save up to 103,000 lives annually just by making doctors and nurses wash their hands between patients? As I wrote to Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”) Administrator Richard Capka:

“According to, “Every year in this country, two million patients contract infections in hospitals, and an estimated 103,000 die as a result, as many deaths as from AIDS, breast cancer, and auto accidents combined.”

In other words, last year 21.4 times as many people died from going to the hospital as died from riding a motorcycle.”

(3) Or better yet, why not direct your humanitarian efforts towards initiatives that benefit all of mankind? You might start with a proposed resolution that the Union for Reform Judaism commit itself to saving us all from Global Warming, Corrupt Politicians, Bungling Bureaucrats, Greedy Capitalists, Religious Fanatics, and Misguided Do-Gooders…

Speaking strictly for myself and no other individuals or organizations,

Bruce Arnold aka IronBoltBruce
Author and Publisher,
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

Battle Escalates Against Riders’ Freedom of Choice (Part 1)

November 2007

Written by Dave Christy, Bikers’ Rights Advocate, Colorado

Life and living encompass many choices. As much as we would like to be, we are not personally in total control of how we live. We live with (and under) rules and regulations (laws) to co-exist peacefully among the population, and along the way develop (hopefully) our internal moral compass to help steer us as we move through life. The essence of Freedom is the possession of choices, to live as we see fit without the bringing of harm onto others. Webster’s Dictionary defines freedom (in part) as “1. the state or quality of being free; esp., a) exemption or liberation from the control of some other person or some arbitrary power; liberty; independence; b) exemption from arbitrary restrictions on a specified civil right; civil or political liberty…” Always remember: this is not granted by government; on the contrary–men are “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” (as validated in our Declaration of Independence.)

Most of us have a daily routine and working life; some may consider it a “grind.” Our culture and free-market/capitalistic system dictate we need to earn an income to meet financial obligations. In addition, what you want materially is a choice you make, and you pay for it. So we commute, work, and perhaps stress. And when it’s time to take a break or vacation, lots of us swing a leg over our motorcycles for a day ride or overnighter, maybe a couple of weeks out on the open road to distance ourselves from conflict, clear the mind, refresh the spirit, and experience ‘just being.’ The Freedom of Choice again comes into play–you claim it because it is yours, you decide–where to go, when to do it, what to see/experience, why you want to, and how you want to do it–on two wheels. Perfect. I can think of no better expression of personal freedom. The Freedom of movement, Freedom of the road. Concerns? OK: next tank of gas, what to eat, maybe where to sleep. All this while, and in your own good time, you’re minding your own business and making no demands of anyone (except for other drivers’ obligation to pay attention and see you, maybe?) In return, no demands are being made of you, right? Wrong. More on that in a bit…

You have a legally-owned, titled, licensed, and insured motorcycle. In addition, you have your license, endorsement, and operator skill and experience. I believe these are fair expectations and requirements of the system we all live with and the same obligations you would expect from anyone else among the spectrum of all highway users. We’re all in the traffic mix and rely, with an x-factor of trust, on each other to do the proper things. In spite of that reliance, vehicle operators commit ‘fouls’ on other roadway users, and/or themselves, to the tune of millions of collisions, crashes, and “accidents” every year in the U.S.A., resulting in 40,000-plus fatalities every year, to include an escalating percentage of motorcyclists in that figure. It’s a sad fact. What must be understood is that 95% of all accidents are due to human causation factors!

About forty years ago, a federal regulatory agency was created by act of Congress to address highway safety and promulgate vehicle design standards upon the manufacturers and industries. This agency is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), typically headed-up and staffed by epidemiologists and researchers that subscribe to a passive approach, i.e., that the vehicle and its’ equipment should reduce injuries and help save lives, removing drivers more from the equation because the thinking is that vehicle operators can’t be educated and depended upon enough to prevent the accidents that cause injury and death:

NHTSA has essentially remained inflexible and adhered to this mindset, even though the desired fatality outcomes have not dropped so dramatically and the U.S.A.’s transportation safety record has fallen in comparison to other countries in the world. It needs to be understood that advances in vehicle technology have indeed provided survivability to scale not experienced prior to our time, but you have to ask yourself: should crashes be considered inevitable, therefore acceptable? The fact is, the more the vehicles assume ‘control’, the more responsibility and skill-set is removed from the driver, with the inverse effect being the evermore dumbing-down and awareness-deficient operator on the roadway. Who wants to share the road with people like that? These days, not only are accident violations accepted as an everyday inevitable occurrence, but also in sheer numbers (it appears) tolerated by a justice system in that prosecutorial and judicial disposition of traffic offenses is generally rapid via the plea bargain and forgiven too easily, minimizing the gravity of accountability that should be placed upon the driver, and ultimately shoveling it over to insurance and dollar figures.

The battleground comes down to accident prevention vs. safer crashing and motorcyclists have a tremendous stake in the issue. We are exposed on the roads and understand that “going down” stands to have a dire outcome. The astute motorcyclist will understand this completely, be aware, skilled and educated constantly, and manage his/her risk accordingly. What about education and skill set for the everyday driver? NHTSA, as well as most state DOT Motor Vehicle divisions, places very little effort in further education of the mass of drivers. While there is movement afoot to require tiered training, licensing, and “life-long” learning of motorcyclists, I have not seen nor heard of any parallel effort being proposed for drivers anywhere, nor any type of evaluation at license renewal time. Get a license “once upon a time” and good-to-go for a lifetime? I think not. But ask anyone with a driver’s license, “How’s your driving?” The response? “Oh yeah, I think I’m a good driver…” I never heard anyone say “No, I suck and need more work.” Ironic, isn’t it, that our government’s leaders bang the drum on the value of formal education, that’s it’s the best tool and avenue we have to advance ourselves and our individual and collective futures here and in the world, and that it’s continually publicly funded. Except for vehicle operation, where lives are at stake.

The motorcycling community is relentlessly pounded upon by NHTSA, and more so in the last few years due to the increase of motorcyclist fatalities as a percentage of the yearly highway total. The news media are fed the stats, latch on and stoke the flames through inference among the general public, who view us riders as a careless liability, damn-near miscreants who ride “donor-cycles” and deserve what we get because motorcycles are ‘dangerous.’ And you have to wear a helmet. If you don’t wear a helmet you brought it on yourself. Well, first of all I’ve never seen a dangerous motorcycle (I’ve seen some “rat bikes” I wouldn’t care to ride but that’s another story.) Secondly, if anyone were to approach a motorcyclist and ask them what their biggest concern is, I think almost invariably the response would be “other drivers on the road.” Thirdly, motorcycles have every equal right and entitlement to the roads and highways as any other vehicle. We don’t deserve disdain, nor airs of expendability. Fourth, we know we’re not perfect, and we admit it.

It’s been said the most fundamental and important function of government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. This is true but only to an extent and is not open-ended in the U.S.A. The function extends to protecting borders, providing defense of the Homeland, public safety from predators, scam artists, much more, etc., etc.–in other words, relief and protection from harm that others, or outside influences, would bring upon your being. It does not include imposition of laws upon your physical being, where you bring no harm to others in the course of going about your business. You and your body are private and personal property. “…Each person owns himself or herself, by right and without question; a right that is prior to and above any government or social organization.”–Donald Beezley. I certainly hope that you agree with the above; if not, then perhaps it’s too esoteric for those except for the most freedom-loving among us. With that stated, I’m going to talk freedom of choice as it concerns helmets. It’s a known fact that NHTSA and other ‘safety’ organizations have lobbied for years to have legislatures implement laws concerning mandatory use of helmets upon motorcyclists’ bodies. You must be “protected.” (crash survival–remember the passive approach.) The newest ‘player’ in the fray is the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), who has been unquestionably, deliberately, and non-transparently recruited into the mix to advocate among the federal and state governments for total motorcycle helmet laws, despite having little or no experience and expertise in the motorcycle safety arena:

They do, however, possess credibility among legislators simply because of what they are, which is the perception of being all-knowing authorities on the issue–Elitists, if you will. The push for helmet laws is historically relentless and will always be so until they get what they want and as long as they have taxpayer dollars to spend–its’ part of what the regulators’ and bureaucrats’ agenda is. While these agencies and their people, and organizations similar in scope, are free to speak and recommend, what you need to understand is that none of them are under any obligation to reconcile your freedoms as an American in the course of their agenda. Their end justifies their means. The debate here is not about helmets themselves–they can, and do, provide protection and reduce injury:

They also can, and do, cause injury. Seat belts do the same thing. Fact is, these aren’t a 100% ‘Silver Bullet’ for protection–not even close. You might question why states are immunized by laws against liability suits in cases where helmets and belts either didn’t save lives, didn’t prevent injuries, or caused them. You should decide to use them according to advisements and educational materials provided, and not be penalized and have your money extracted because they weren’t worn on your body. A question that an activist friend of mine likes to pose is: “Who, or What, are you trying to protect me from?” A question I like to ask is, “What is government’s compelling interest in requiring me to have a helmet on my head?” About the best response I can think of is to “save lives.” Well, that’s noble enough but I can make that decision for myself. I think its nobler and higher ground to have my freedoms defended and respected. It’s time to resurrect the mantra, speak loudly–Get Your Laws Off My Body! This is not a request!

I truly believe that no one, nor entity, is more concerned with motorcyclists’ safety outside of motorcyclists themselves. That is why motorcyclists crafted the language in the massive federal transportation (TEA-LU) funding bill to include motorcycle safety grant monies and funding for a new, comprehensive, and independent study of motorcycle crash causation factors–the first since the 1980 year Hurt Report. The Oklahoma Transportation Center will undertake the new study at the Oklahoma State University and it should begin soon, taking about two years. With that in mind, I have to question the “urgency” proffered to implement laws on bodies as the panacea for motorcycle crashes by NHTSA, NTSB, et al–when all the causation factors haven’t been established, therefore not addressed:

Could it be found out the dogma they’ve adhered to for so many years might be so flawed as to be a national embarrassment? Will they attempt to influence the outcome of an “independent” study? The study must remain independent with a lot of ‘sunshine’ on the methodology and demographic.

“Without helmets, we all pay” says NHTSA, as they create polarity in the public realm and influence opinion, deliberately against motorcyclists–attempting to establish motorcyclists as a disproportionate drain of injury and medical dollar consumption. This is called the Public, or Social Burden theory. Guess what folks, we all pay for everything, everyday. Think about that for awhile–I’ll take that up and debunk it in Part 2, next month. Until then: “Freedom also demands that we refrain from interfering in others’ enjoyment of their unalienable rights. Freedom encompasses not simply the opportunity to make choices but the responsibility for those choices. Just because one choice seems wiser or safer doesn’t justify using the force of government to require everyone to make the same choice. Likewise, government shouldn’t protect those who make irresponsible choices from the consequences of their actions, or worse yet, make someone else bear the cost.”–Mark Hillman

Written by Dave Christy (email: )


Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!

Open Letter to J. Richard Capka

October 2007 (Special Edition)

“The Issue Here Is That Helmets Are Not The Issue Here.”


5 October 2007

J. Richard Capka (
Federal Highway Administration
Bldg. SFC Room E87-314
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-0650 (tel)
202-366-3244 (fax)

Re: Motorcycle Travel Symposium, NTSB Conference Facility – L’Enfant Plaza, 10-12 October 2007

Mr. Capka:

The tentative agenda for next week’s Motorcycle Travel Symposium clearly states that “better estimates of motorcycle travel are needed,” and for that concession by its sponsors, I applaud the Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). And unless and until we have more reliable reporting of statistics such as motorcycle registrations, motorcycle vehicle miles traveled (“VMT”), injuries and fatalities from motorcycle crashes and the actual causes thereof, I ask you and your symposium participants to join me in demanding that NHTSA and its lobbying ally, the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”), cease and desist from spinning statistics that they know are flawed in support of misguided, Haddonistic safety agendas. For evidence of same, Mr. Capka, we need look no further than your 30 January 2007 joint memorandum with NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason, wherein you state “Since fatality rates based on VMT are the best measure of exposure risk for motor vehicle crashes, it is critical that FHWA receive accurate, complete, and timely VMT data to determine accurate crash rates and to monitor trends…” only to follow up a few lines later with the blatant admission that “…the reporting of motorcycle VMT data in HPMS is optional and consequently, many States choose not to report it.” Despite that knowledge, in their meeting of 11 September 2007–nine months later–the NTSB used VMT-based measures to support their “band-aid on a bullet wound” motorcycle safety recommendations specifically quoting NHTSA statistics suggesting that in 2006 motorcycles accounted for over 10% of all traffic fatalities but less than [0.4%|0.34%|0.034% … they couldn’t seem to decide] of total vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Obviously, any computation based on a meaningless statistic is itself a meaningless statistic. The NTSB knew this … their Dr. Sweeney even warned them about it … but Chairman Mark Rosenker ignored her comments.

In that same session, the NTSB quoted NHTSA statistics claiming that in 2006 motorcycles represented only 2% of all registered vehicles but over 10% of all fatalities. And again, they knew or should have known that statement may be false. As Dr. Sweeney acknowledged, the registered motorcycle statistics upon which that comparison is based may be seriously understated. In other words, for all we know at this point, the number of motorcyclist fatalities as a percentage of the number of motorcycles on the road may have actually DECREASED over the past ten years!

DESPITE THAT KNOWLEDGE, and as part of what I suspect may be collusion between the NTSB and NHTSA to circumvent the state lobbying restrictions imposed on the latter by TEA-21 (the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century) on 3 October 2007 the NTSB included the following paragraph in a series of lobbying letters released to our state governments:

“The Safety Board is concerned about motorcycle safety and the growing number of riders who have been killed or injured in motorcycle crashes. Since 1997, the number of motorcycle fatalities has increased 127 percent, an increase that far exceeds that of any other form of transportation. In addition, the number of motorcycle fatalities in any recent year has been more than double the number of deaths that same year from accidents in aviation, rail, marine, and pipeline combined. In 2006, for example, 4,810 motorcyclists died in crashes, and motorcycle fatalities accounted for more than 10 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities.[1] The following figure clearly shows the rising numbers. Although rising motorcycle use may partly explain this trend, increases in fatalities have outpaced increases in activity measures such as motorcycle registrations and vehicle miles traveled.”

THIS PARAGRAPH IS A MASTERPIECE OF POLITICAL SPIN. They say the best lies are half truth, Mr. Capka, and that certainly applies here:

1. Yes, motorcycle fatalities may have increased 127 percent since their historic low of 2,116 in 1997 but why not compare them to their historic high of 5,144 in 1980? That is an equally rational comparison which reflects a DECREASE in motorcycle fatalities.

2. So what if “…the number of motorcycle fatalities in any recent year has been more than double the number of deaths that same year from accidents in aviation, rail, marine, and pipeline combined”? According to, “Every year in this country, two million patients contract infections in hospitals, and an estimated 103,000 die as a result, as many deaths as from AIDS, breast cancer, and auto accidents combined.”

In other words, last year 21.4 times as many people died from going to the hospital as died from riding a motorcycle. And how relevant is that? At least as relevant as the NTSB planes, trains and pipelines comparison. Even more relevant is this comparison:

“…as NTSB Chairman, you either knew or should have known that (a) we have 236 million cellphone subscribers on our roadways, (b) 73% of them are talking while they are driving, (c) cellphone conversations impair their driving skills as much if they were intoxicated with alcohol, consequently (d) they are four times more likely to cause or be involved in an accident than motorists who responsibly shut up and steer, and resultantly (e) assuming reports of the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office are a reliable measure, roughly ONE IN FOUR ACCIDENTS in 2006 occurred when a driver was talking on the phone. So barring evidence to the contrary, as NTSB Chairman you either knew or should have known that it would be reasonable to assume that cellphone conversation-impaired motorists could have been responsible for 25 percent (or more) of the 2,575,000 traffic injuries and 42,642 traffic fatalities reported by NHTSA for 2006…. And rather than using the taxpayer-provided resources of your bureaucratic office to pursue restrictions on the use of cell phones while driving, which might have saved 10,660 lives (25% of 42,642 fatalities) last year, you chose instead to go on what the press calls a mandatory helmet law ‘crusade’, which in comparison might have saved at best only [747] lives. Had you made the responsible choice, Mr. Rosenker, our nation could be saving almost 15 TIMES AS MANY LIVES by restricting the use of cellphones by drivers rather than requiring helmets for riders.”

3. Yes, last year there may have been 4,810 motorcycle fatalities that accounted for more than ten percent of all traffic deaths, but that in no way supports the NHTSA/NTSB lobbying assertion that helmet laws will solve the problem. By NHTSA’s own numbers…

…of the 4,810 motorcycle fatalities in 2006, 2,792 (58%) were helmeted, and 2,018 (42%) were not helmeted. 58% (2,792) were wearing helmets and DIED ANYWAY. For the remaining 2,018, apply the 37% factor supplied by the NTSB here and the actual number of lives that might have been saved if ALL riders had been helmeted in ALL 50 states ALL year is only 747. This is not to say that 747 deaths–16% of the total–are not important. Rather it is to emphasize that the NHTSA/NTSB helmet law lobby does nothing at all to address 84% of motorcycle fatalities!

4. Their paragraph concludes with “…increases in fatalities have outpaced increases in activity measures such as motorcycle registrations and vehicle miles traveled.” And as I explained above, that is a specious claim.

AND THE SPIN DOESN’T STOP THERE, MR. CAPKA. Let’s take a look at this recent NHTSA report:

DOT HS 810 834 September 2007 (Fatal Two-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes)

One of the more obvious findings of this report was that “the role of the motorcycle was recorded as the striking vehicle” in most cases. Of course! 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: “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.”

One might easily 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. But that is not the truth.

The truth can be found, well obfuscated, in Table 22. The obfuscation begins with the 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 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 sad but undeniable truth is this:


Sadder still is what can be gleaned by combining this discovery with the not-so-obvious revelation from Table 21 that although motorists were at fault almost 60% of the time, over 70% of the time they walked away with no punishment, no penalty, no fine, and not even so much as a traffic ticket. And saddest of all is the extent to which NHTSA went to effectively bury these smoking guns in the framework of this presentation.

MY POINT HERE, MR. CAPKA, is essentially the same point I tried to convey to NTSB Member Deborah Hersman over a year ago, in my position paper of 2 September 2006.

My point here is to try to get you, the FHWA, NHTSA, the NTSB, your symposium participants, the media, all motorcyclists and the public to realize that the issue here is that helmets are not the issue here. As does the American Motorcyclist Association (“AMA”), I support the voluntary use of helmets.

Legally requiring their use by motorcyclists only, however, is both absolutely discriminatory and relatively ineffective. Focusing on crash survival instead of crash prevention punishes victims for the crime, and makes no more sense than trying to reduce the murder rate by mandating Kevlar vests for the innocent rather than prison or worse for the guilty. As I wrote last year, “Helmets and other defensive measures CANNOT prevent or lower the probability of motorcycle accidents. Proactive abatement of negligent, distracted, impaired and inattentive motorists CAN.”

THE ISSUE HERE IS THAT HELMETS ARE NOT THE ISSUE HERE, MR. CAPKA. And if NHTSA and the NTSB do not stop using bad numbers to promote bad public policy through illegal lobbying efforts, be on notice that there are many concerned and dedicated American motorcyclists who will not rest until the heads of those agencies are dethroned, and the taxpayer funding for those agencies is diminished.

Speaking strictly for myself and no other individuals or organizations,

Bruce Arnold aka IronBoltBruce
Author and Publisher,
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

More Than 18 Ways To Shut’em Up

October 2007

Help Me Pick the Winner of our HANG UP AND DRIVE Contest!

On 13 September 2007, I sent a letter to National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) Chairman Mark Rosenker in which I pointed out that restricting cager cellphone conversations could have saved as many as 10,660 lives in 2006, which is about 15 times more than would’ve been saved by lidding every rider in the land.

But the calls continue … and so does my call for Mr. Rosenker’s resignation. One reason we delay in dealing with this deadly distraction is the slippery slope argument that there are many other sources of distraction that are equally dangerous. In other words, why single out talking on a cellphone as opposed to eating a burger, drinking coffee, fiddling with the radio, flirting with your date, or yelling at the kids? Are cellphone conversations really more distracting and deadly than any of these? Well, the cellphone industry certainly wants us to think the answer to the last question is “No.”…

…but as Malcolm Gladwell and David Strayer explain, the true answer is “Yes!”:

“This is a common problem in driving. Talking on a cell phone and trying to drive, for instance, is not unlike trying to count passes in a basketball game and simultaneously keep track of wandering animals. ‘When you get into a phone conversation, it’s different from the normal way we have evolved to interact,’ David Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, says. ‘Normally, conversation is face to face. There are all kinds of cues. But when you are on the phone you strip that away. It’s virtual reality. You attend to that virtual reality, and shut down processing of the here and now.’ Strayer has done tests of people who were driving and talking on phones, and found that they remember far fewer things than those driving without phones. Their field of view shrinks. In one experiment, he flashed red and green lights at people while they were driving, and those on the phone missed twice as many lights as the others, and responded far more slowly to those lights they did see. ‘We tend to find the biggest deficits in unexpected events, a child darting onto the road, a light changing,’ Strayer says. ‘Someone going into your lane. That’s what you don’t see. There is a part of driving that is automatic and routine. There is a second part of driving that is completely unpredictable, and that is the part that requires attention.’ This is what Simons found with his gorilla, and it is the scariest part of inattentional blindness. People allow themselves to be distracted while driving because they think that they will still be able to pay attention to anomalies. But it is precisely those anomalous things, those deviations from the expected script, which they won’t see.”

So given both scientific evidence and statistical proof that cellphone conversations–using hands-free as well as hand-held devices–are one of the deadliest of all driver distractions, how do we get cagers to HANG UP AND DRIVE?

Last month, I posed that question to our readers in form of a contest. Here was the offer…



…and the results are:


You will find the totality of our contest submissions posted here:

Unfortunately, not all of the more creative and colorful suggestions you will find there meet the requirement of being “serious, original, feasible and legitimate ideas”. Of those that do, you will find 18 appended below, unedited and as submitted.

Our contest rules say I will choose the winner, but it seems in all fairness I should ask for your opinions and feedback first. So please take the time to review the 18 suggestions appended below, then place your vote for the winner by number in a forum posting here:

We promised to announce a winner by Monday, 15 October, so please post your votes to our forum no later than midnight ET on Sunday, 14 October 2007.

Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!


** Suggestion 1:

Name: Mike
Date Posted: Aug 14, 07 – 3:50 PM
Message: My suggestion runs along the lines of the restriction of bars when they are caught serving to minors. The loss of cellphone for three,5 days or two weeks for those caught talking on cellphones while driving. after being caught three times you are now on a no cellphone list for 6 months with all the companies involved adhering to the list. If you are caught with a cellphone after being on the no cellphone list, you lose your drivers license for thirty days. Taking away someones cellphone that breaks the law would be easier for lawmakers to swallow. It’s a graduated system that does not take away someones right to earn a living by taking there license.

We could also go after corporate america one large sum settlement of a company employee getting in an accident while doing company business would do the trick. Coporate america risk asessment people could be asked what is your companies policy for employees using cellphones while driving on company business. Corporate america runs this country already(sorry..almost went off).

My 2 cents


** Suggestion 2:

Name: Pell Blakeman
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 10:16 AM
Message: Bruce,

I appreciate everything you are doing.

How about a light installed on top of the car, that comes on when the phone is operating. At least we can see, and avoid these extreme hazards.

With today’s technology, this should be easy to accomplish. Voluntary or mandatory, either way would be a big help.

Pell Blakeman
Kentucky Motorcycle Association

** Suggestion 3:

Name: rmw
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 12:16 PM
Message: I don’t beleive that this is purely a legislative issue any more than it is strictly a societal issue and the solution will need to address all aspects of the problem.

To begin with this is not just a biker issue. I believe it was Harvard which did an economic impact study which estimated that the property damage incurred by cell phone using drivers will pushing 10 Billion dollars a year.

I think we can learn a great deal from the most successful grassroots effort in recent history, MADD which single handedly changed an entire nation’s attitude about drinking a driving. But first things first.

We need to begin by forming an organization whose sole purpose is to educate and lobby on this sole issue and not just bikers but all people. It should be incorporated as a 501.3(c) with a BOD and advisory council. We should invite people to be on the advisory committe from mfrs, insurance, government, riding organizations etc.

We would further need to identify impacted individuals and groups who may be potential allies such as insurance companies, AMA, ABATE, MRF. We need to actively seek grants as well.

We would then launch a public information effort to educate the public, while educating and lobbying legislators. Actively seek public outlets such as TV, radio etc.

To be blunt, two pissed off mothers changed everything. Here we have tens of thousands of bikers. But we need to organize, focus and work smart, network and build relationships and allies under the umbrella of a single purpose organization which can generate credibility with people.

Personally I stand ready to help because I’m tired of having a bullseye on my back.

** Suggestion 4:

Name: Sandi Hollister
Date Posted: Aug 14, 07 – 6:37 PM
Message: I would like to see cell phone usage (bluetooth, too) considered along the same lines as open containers or not using a seat belt.

Or, have every motorcyclist carry a dart gun. The darts will be the suction-cup kind with a bright orange plastic tail upon which are the words ‘STUPID’. When you come across a cager with a phone glued to it’s head, shoot the car. Next, we’ll have checkpoints where the cager must pay a fine for the number of ‘STUPID’ flag’s he’s waving. The fines could be used to better educate drivers (or at least have one heck of a party).

** Suggestion 5:

Name: Slyder
Date Posted: Aug 14, 07 – 8:10 PM
Message: How to get cagers hang up and drive. We need to get all the bike clubs and associations to give a day at any major street intersection with large pictures of crashes that were caused by inatentive cagers and banners that asks then to hang up and drive. Stopping cagers that are using there phones and make them aware of the problem, pulling cagers over, and making them aware that they are a driving accident waiting to happen. we also need the authorities to give us permision to do this and make them aware of our problem.

** Suggestion 6:

Name: Chuck DeSario
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 3:07 PM
Message: Ray,

You answered my question with professionalism. But I have to tell you that I’m sitting here in a massive stupor. I can’t believe (not that I doubt your word) that the MRF, MSF, ABATE, and the AMA haven’t used this information to their fullest advantage.

Let me understand this, you provided them with this information and all they’ve done so far is sit on their thumbs. Well sir, here lies the answer to Bruce’s question. Here lies the plan of approach. We MUST get these individual groups to utilize this information on our behalf. We must also question their reluctance to use it in our battle against highway deaths. These organizations want our money, our loyalty, and our membership, but yet they don’t want to use this information to help save lives! Not acceptable.

I think what we need to do, is a mass emailing, phone calling campaign that lets these folks know that we expect them to represent us in this fight, and anything that can be used to secure a victory must be used, and if they don’t want to take this information to State, and Federal organizations on our behalf, then we as members of these various organizations will refrain from continuing to be members. It seems to me that their refusal to take the information you’ve provided to the powers to be, is nothing short of flat out lies regarding they’re concern about our welfare. How many more of us have to die before our so called motorcycle rights advocates stand up and do whats right.

My next move is to call and email all of the organizations listed, and demand that the information you’ve provided them be used in soliciting new regulations, or they can count on my leaving their organization as a member.

No wonder nothing gets done.

Thanks Ray for your diligent work.


** Suggestion 7:

Name: gsabate president
Date Posted: Aug 15, 07 – 8:06 AM
Message: Perhaps we should all band together, pick a weekend day, groups of us can pick a roadside stand of our favorite place,Tiki bar, resturant,a parking lot, someplace we dont have to pay for,small groups all throughout our state’s here and there, we can call it “Bikers Against Cellphone Impairment Day”. We can have signs that say things such as ” we’re comming to take your cell phones away”. Much like they want our freedom, now we can hit em hard.We need to educate, let the lawmakers set the fines, If we all band together and chip in a small contribution, perhaps we can turn it into “air time”….Just a few thoughts, thanks for listening,.. Peace,. Sideshow.

** Suggestion 8:

Name: RustyBongard
Date Posted: Aug 15, 07 – 9:26 AM
Message: The target of our goal cannot effectively be “a” cellphone here and there. Nor, can it effectively be a cellphone user here and there. The target needs to be the bullseye and have massive impact and consequences for the entire cellphone target. Ultimately, responsibility for cellphone use rests in the hands of the cellphone pusher. We need to pick a cellphone company and hit it hard where it hurts. I would gladly contribute to a legal bullet aimed at a cell phone companies heart. My thinking is put one of those companies in the ground, and then watch the others scramble to invent the cellphone technology or rules to protect us, hence them.

** Suggestion 9:

Name: H. Avello
Date Posted: Aug 15, 07 – 1:44 PM
Email: Website:
Message: The motorcycle safety foundation (MSF) is producing some videos that address this and other issues of cage drivers not “seeing” motorcyclists. They’re 14-15 min. long. I saw an “in process” version of one this past weekend at an update and it was really good. They will be for sale soon. At the grass roots level, individuals can buy one or two of them and do presentations in our communities: High school assemblies, PTA meetings, City council meetings, neighborhood owners association meetings, local libraries’ “summer series”, etc. Be creative and just get out and request some time to show the video.

** Suggestion 10:

Name: Mike Coon
Date Posted: Aug 15, 07 – 3:21 PM
Message: I think we should follow the original model of Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers(MADD.) They got a lot of human interest stories done about the victims of drunk driving and stigmatized what had been thought of as a relatively harmless behaviour. Public interest spots on TV showing Motorcyclists, Bicyclists, and Pedestrians killed or maimed by otherwise responsible citizens. Show the after-effects; wheelchair bound young men, families finacially devestated by the civil suits of those they hurt, young children without fathers, college hopefuls suddenly unable to go because Mom killed a guy while talking on the cell. Make the consequences real, tragic, and visceral. Highlight talking and driving as the ultimately selfish and irresponsible act that it is. Get preachers to sermonize about it from the pulpit as an act that disregards others in a way that insults our faith in Almighty God.

Mike Coon

** Suggestion 11:

Name: RustyBongard
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 10:26 PM
Message: I want to hit this ball again. If we launch an attack on …..NEXTEL?….. we bikers blame them for the direct, profit oriented, misaligned proffering of attentional blindness producing products that are increasingly and obviously killing us, and put their ass in a VERY hot seat. A hot seat that could potentially cost them millions upon millions of dollars. And we keep a hand at their throat, never letting off. I believe shit will happen. If you want action from bikers, don’t expect much asking them to call politicians. The game is old, and well versed in terms of what to expect. No! Give bikers an enemy. One that needs taken down. Give us a scapegoat to sacrifice. If its a smart scapegoat it might survive. If it does not it will have taught other goats what may save their ass. The cellphone industry is the key to change. I believe it, and I believe we can make them listen.

** Suggestion 12:

Name: Kathy Reitinger
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 10:37 PM
Message: My suggestion, the only way we, as bikers, can do anything is with a sign or signs. Create a t-shirt that says ” if you drive with a cell phone you are a danger to EVERYONE. I also want a sign I can put on someone’s bumper, that says, “I am a JERK with a CELL phone. CAUTION!!!” I will gladly put them on the bumpers of offenders. I may need a bunch of them, though.

** Suggestion 13:

Name: Dennis Gilchrist
Date Posted: Aug 17, 07 – 7:54 AM
Message: the one thing i can do is not use my cell when i drive a cage… we should ask all riders to never use their cells when in a cage… if we don’t like it and we don’t … we as riders should not do it… just a thought… dennis

** Suggestion 14:

Name: Joellen Bruce
Date Posted: Aug 18, 07 – 2:27 PM
Message: I have been teaching this in our(ABATE 20 MI) Motorcycle Awareness program for the last year.

While for the last 3 years (since I have been with the Awarness program) we have taught that talking on cells while drive is worst that driving drunk I have added a local reason that really wakes up our students(15-17 year olds).

The students usually start making excuses for the cell cell phone use when I ask this question …..”How is the person your talking to going to explain to your parents and family family that they were HEARD YOU DIE. Not only did you kill yourself and the people in your car, you messed up the person you were talking to for life.”

After this question I get total silence. Most of the cell phones get pulled out and turned off.

We lost a 17 year old cheerleader from a local high school along with 4 of her best friends due to the fact she was TEXT MESSAGING WHILE DRIVEING ON I-75. This hits our students below the belt, it wakes them up.

maybe this story could wake a few more kids and adults up.


Joellen Bruce
Awareness Intructor
Road Captain
ABATE Region 20 Michigan

** Suggestion 15:

Name: mike
Date Posted: Aug 19, 07 – 10:32 AM
Message: How about we start with a better business burea complaint campaign on all cell phone companies. They have to answer the complaints as it directly affects their business Identity and image.

** Suggestion 16:

Name: roy e fisher
Date Posted: Aug 19, 07 – 2:59 PM
Message: how about a device that would static cell phones if your motor was running. like the old ignitions used to do to radios. that way, one would have to pull over and shut off the motor to answer a call. it would not be an expensive item to add to cars. after all, we are talking about public safety, and you know how the state wants to look after us. we should be able to start some kind of movement. Hands free does not deal with the problem. it is the distraction that takes some drivers minds completely off the task of operating their vehicle. We have all seen ity. someone, most cases I have seen a female, with head tipped back, yakking away, like she is sitting on the sofa at home. (I do realize thet women are not only to blame) the other day, I was honking at some young man at a green light as he was going about 5 mph text messaging, with both thunbs texting away and driving with his knees. who could have seen a motorcycle?

** Suggestion 17:

Name: Cari M
Date Posted: Aug 20, 07 – 11:43 PM
Message: We can never expect Utopia – and it is only going to get worse. Here in Hampton Roads they’re planning yet another shipping terminal, thousands more semis on the roads and inevitably even more gridlock, congestion, frustration and people wanting to call home to tell the spouse to hold dinner as they’re still stuck in traffic… Short of banning cages, we have to learn to be more attentive to the idiots out there with phones to ear, drinks to mouth, boom boxes rattling their few brain cells, whatever.

Here in Virginia we have the law “kill a biker, go to jail” – for one year. I’m not sure that any of the cagers out there know about it. We need to get out to the schools and talk to the kids when they are first learning to drive. We need to talk in the town halls, the churches, wherever the people are. And we need to enhance that law – kill a biker, go to jail for a year, but if your cell phone was in use, your time in the hoosegow doubles. They may not stop driving and nattering on their phones, but at least they will hopefully be a bit more aware of the damage they could cause. They sure won’t want to be inconvenienced by two years in prison.

And yes, I’ve been there, done that (no, not the hoosegow, I’m disgustingly law-abiding). Both sides, although I hang up if traffic gets heavy and I am VERY careful to make sure my eyes are swivelling twice as hard as usual from mirror to mirror, to make sure I have my situational awareness intact! On my scoot, I’ve followed someone for miles, very obviously, until they finally stopped and asked why – and then I explained very precisely how they failed to be aware of others on the road. Short of following my initial instinct (which would be to carry my 9mm with me), I can only rely on trying to get the message across to the cagers – even if I would just as soon shove their cell phones somewhere nice and dark!

** Suggestion 18:

Name: Dave Kipp
Date Posted: Aug 23, 07 – 7:24 AM
Message: Here’s an idea I myself was thinking about the other day. Why don’t we impose a helmet law for all drivers of any vehicle, cars, buses etc.etc.etc. It would be next to impossible to use a cell phone without pulling over and removing the helmet. We here in NY have a law on cell phone use while driving unless it is hands free. Yet, no one seems to pay any attention to that law. The fine is $100.00 first offense and $200 for a second. Law enforcement doesn’t seem to interested in enforcement because they themselves seem to be on the damn things as well. I have been thinking about trying to get a legislator to introduce such a law here in NY as a way to get our helmet law repealed. I know such a law would almost surely be rejected.

Dave Kipp
Greene County ABATE President

Open Letter to ABATE of Illinois

September 2007 (Special Edition)

“We only have those rights we are willing to defend.”

Fellow Riders and Freedom Fighters in the State of Illinois:

I have had the privilege of riding across your great state four times in the past six weeks: first going to and returning from Sturgis, then twice over Labor Day Weekend as part of two Iron Butt Association “Bun Burner Gold” runs from Miami Beach to Chicago and back by way of East St. Louis. On I-24 West near its terminus at I-57, three Illinois riders and myself were almost killed by a cellphone-impaired cager, one of many nationwide who apparently feel their right to gab is more important than our right to life:

Perhaps that should not be surprising, since as I observed last weekend, the State of Illinois posts signs that actually encourage motorists to use their cellphones while they are driving:

I hope you will see clear to follow the example set by our brothers and sisters in Delaware, and demand that your governor and the misguided safetycrats in your state capital take down those signs, and stop encouraging such irresponsibly reckless and dangerous behavior:

Make them understand that we have 236 million cellphone subscribers on our roadways … that 73% of them are talking while they are driving … that cellphone conversations impair their driving skills as much if they were intoxicated with alcohol … and that consequently they are four times more likely to cause or be involved in an accident than motorists who responsibly shut up and steer. The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, for example, reports that ONE IN FOUR ACCIDENTS in Oklahoma last year occurred when a driver was talking on the phone:

Can the numbers in your state be much different? Based on what I experienced there, I doubt it. And exactly how many motorcycle accidents, injuries and deaths are attributable to the negligence and inattentional blindness of cellphone conversation-impaired cagers? We don’t know for sure, because NOBODY seems to be capturing that data (somebody correct me here…please!). What we do know, however, is that according to NTHSA in 2005 motorcycles accounted for only 2.54% of all registered vehicles while motorcyclists accounted for 10.48% of all crash fatalities, and that riders were 4.5 times more likely to be in a fatal accident. That means that motorcyclists are far more likely to suffer injury or death at the hands of a cellphone conversation-impaired cager than other motorists.

Cellphone-related or not, RIGHT-OF-WAY VIOLATIONS BY CAGERS have long been the single most significant threat to the life and limb of responsible motorcycle riders. And that is never going to change, so long as the price negligent and care-less motorists pay for maiming or killing bikers is no more than a slap on the wrist:

As bikers’ rights advocates for your state, I hope you recognize it is your responsibility to see that justice is served–not just in the charges, but in the sentencing–in heinous cases like the recent murder of Illinois motorcyclist Frank Ferraro by impaired cager Erika Scoliere:

I implore you not to wait too late to take action in this regard. Otherwise, Erika Scoliere may literally get away with murder, just like ABATE of Ohio allowed to happen with respect to Thelma Bartley, the drunk who killed Ohio motorcyclists Marshall Atwood and Deborah McClintock then plea-bargained her way to a sentence of only 90 days and a $150 fine:

As motorcyclists, “… we only have those rights we are willing to defend”. Our brothers and sisters in Vermont have been put on notice that it is time to defend those rights:

Our brothers and sisters in Idaho have been put on notice that it is time to defend those rights:

And now you, our brothers and sisters in Illinois, have been put on notice as well. Know that there are concerned riders from coast to coast standing ready to support you.

Speaking strictly for myself and no other individuals or organizations,

Bruce Arnold aka IronBoltBruce
Author and Publisher,
Co-Moderator, Bruce-n-Ray’s Biker Forum
Premier Member, Iron Butt Association
Sustaining Member, Motorcycle Riders Foundation
Member and Elite Legislative Supporter, American Motorcyclist Association

P.S. My thanks to Garry Van Kirk and all the other Bruce-n-Ray’s Biker Forum contributors who provided input and inspiration for this communication.