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MMA CTA - MRF Action Needed: GHSA Push for Helmet Laws

Doc D'Errico  | Published on Monday, October 19, 2015
MMA CTA - MRF Action Needed: GHSA Push for Helmet Laws
For Immediate Release
 
The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association has been reporting to its membership for the past several years on how your tax dollars have been passed from government agency to government agency to further the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA) agenda for mandatory helmet use laws. Part of the reason for this is a “lobby ban” which prevented the NHTSA from using your tax dollars to travel from state-to-state promoting helmet use. The ban was enacted through the efforts of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation several years ago to allow states to make their own decisions on helmet use, especially in an environment where 31 states currently offer adult choice.
 
As congress considers a new transportation funding bill, and as our transportation infrastructure continues to crumble, the MRF found language embedded in the Transportation Bill which would have lifted the NHTSA lobby ban, thus redirecting critical funding from infrastructure improvements to travel and entertainment expenses for NHTSA lobbyists to push their agenda from state-to-state. Through further efforts of the MRF, an amendment was filed to strike that language from the bill.
 
To make matters worse, the NHTSA has also been pushing for a modification to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards which would modify the definition of a helmet to include specific definition of a “Novelty Helmet” in an attempt to specifically target those helmet not normally sold with a “DOT” sticker permanently affixed. As noted below, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is behind some of these actions, which is the same agency who claimed in “studies” that Rider Education doesn’t work, and only helmets can help save lives (this, despite overwhelming statistics which prove that roughly 80% - or higher - of all motorcycle fatalities had no rider education).
 
The NHTSA’s Insurance Company-backed agenda is “safer crashing”, not crash avoidance.
 
The Governors Highway Safety Association has now taken up the argument of restoring the language which would remove the lobby ban, even in an environment where others are arguing against mandated helmet laws.
 
The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association, and the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, have taken ardent positions around “education, not legislation” as the most beneficial approach to motorcycle safety, and that adult choice does not prevent adults from making a choice to use a helmet where warranted or desired, but rather protects individual freedoms.
 
The MMA supports the MRF’s call-to-action, and encourages all riders and their families to express their position to the GHSA’s VP of Government Relations, Erik Strickland as noted in the MRF CTA which follows below.

The MMA also encourages all its members to join the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. The MRF is your grassroots organization based in Washington DC fighting for your rights as motorcyclists in our Nation’s Capitol. Like the MMA, the MRF functions based on the participation of those State’s Motorcyclists’ Rights Organizations, including the MMA, to set their national agenda.
 
For more information, see www.MRF.orgwww.MassMotorcycle.org, or contact jeff@mrf.org, or mrfrep@massmotorcycle.org.

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Action Needed - GHSA Push for Helmet Laws  
October 18, 2015 

Right now, the push for motorcycle helmet laws is stronger than ever. Its bigger than a handful of the usual government agencies pushing for mandatory helmet laws, It is that of course too, but there is another factor at work as well. And its a very natural thing to happen, the desire to protect children. Many skate parks, bmx parks, horse rides, go carting, etc all now require helmets for youngsters, and we are ok with that. So long as that the continues the likely hood of keeping states helmet law free gets slimmer.
 
But it certainly is coming from agencies and departments all over the country, and its getting nasty. Recently at the State Motorcycle Administrators annual conference the Vice President of Government Relations for the Governors Highway Safety Association, Erik Strickland, touted the benefits of an Obama backed transportation plan that would have given the federal Department of Transportation back the ability to lobby state legislatures about implementing helmet laws. Then in the next breath, he referred to the language in the transportation currently working its way through Congress, and is likely to pass soon, Specifically he called the language to stiffen the lobby ban to the whole of the federal government, state governments and local governments, “A real pain in the ass”. That bill also contains language that would commission a study to determine the best practices to avoid motorcycle crash in the first place. Saving lives instantly. Is that also a “real pain in the ass” Erik Strickland? Thats your governors direct pipeline for ideas for state law.
 
In recent publication by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety they had a two page article about the actions that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken to enforce helmet laws by law enforcement officers. The proposed rule by the safety agency would effectively give law enforcement the ability to pull over, ticket, or worse, any motorcyclists wearing a helmet that the officer felt did not meet the new appropriate standards with a visual test on the road. So, should this rule become final, and that is almost a certainty at this point, any helmet that appears, to a traffic cop, to be less than one inch in the thickness can pull you over for further inspection. Of course the Insurance Institute publication just echoed the same un truths that all of the other safety groups march out. It is interesting and troubling that the agencies that are charged with making things safer, most who don't ride motorcycles, do not care to listen to the very people they are trying to protect. Bureaucracy at its best.
 
Then, in the Wall Street Journal this week was an article where groups of bicyclists are opposing mandatory bicycle helmet laws. They say mandatory helmet laws, particularly for adults, make cycling less convenient and seem less safe, thus hindering the larger public-health gains of more people riding bikes. They think that more bicycles on the street will result in greater degree of visibility in numbers and therefore reduce injuries and fatalities. Cycling advocates are quick to say they’re not anti-helmet. Instead, they’re opposed to helmet laws and their unintended consequences. Sound familiar? Make strange bedfellows.
For all is not lost. We need to stay engaged and active. We, the guardians of motorcycling, must do what those before us and those before them have done. A fight is brewing and we need to be ready. The forward force to pass mandatory helmet laws is swelling. We need to push back with a tidal wave.
 
To start that wave you should email your new best friend, Erik Strickland, Vice President of Federal Relations for the Governors Highway Safety Association. You can reach him here: estrickland@ghsa.org or give him a ring at his direct line, 202-789-0942 x180
You can tell him the MRF sent you!

All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. Motorcycle Riders Foundation. All rights reserved. Ride With The Leaders ™ by joining the MRF at http://motorcycleridersfoundation.wildapricot.org/page-1654836 or call (202) 546-0983