Tuesday, November 13, 2007

MRF Leaders Report

MRF E-MAIL NEWS Motorcycle Riders Foundation
236 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002-4980
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
http://www.mrf.org (website)


Contact: Michael "Boz" Kerr, MRF Vice-President boz@mrf.org (e-mail)

Congressmen Filner, Kirk, Kuhl, Wamp and Walberg to attend MRF press conference

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation would like to announce that several members of the United States Congress will be attending our scheduled press conference in Washington on November 15.

The following congressman have committed to attending:

Congressman Bob Filner (CA-51st) Chairman, House Committee on Veterans Affairs

Congressman Mark Kirk (IL-10th) Committee on Appropriations

Congressman Randy Kuhl (NY-29th) Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-7th) Committee on Education and Labor

Congressman Zack Wamp (TN-3rd) Committee on Appropriations

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation is extremely pleased to have this distinguished group of statesmen join us in discussing with the nation's press the shortcomings of the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) recommendations on motorcycle safety of September 11, 2007.

The press conference will be held on the United States Capitol grounds in Washington DC. The exact location is the Cannon House Office Building, Room 121. Starting time is 9:15 am EST.

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation will also be discussing our efforts to seek congressional support to stop the NTSB from using taxpayer dollars to pressure states into enacting mandatory helmet laws. In addition we will be announcing to the press that we will be presenting a formal letter to the NTSB asking them to reconsider their recommendations that states enact mandatory helmet laws for motorcycle riders.

Many State Motorcyclist Rights Organization members are in Washington this week to lobby their own congressional delegations, in addition to attending the conference.

All motorcyclists are invited to attend this event. In addition the MRF is extending an invitation to all concerned Americans.

Michael Kerr

MRF Vice President

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Helmet Ticket Resources

These folks are taking the fight to the streets and are actively soliciting folks to fight all helmet tickets. Under North Carolina's new helmet law, all lids must meet FMVSS 218 and the first shot has been fired as you will see below.

To learn more visit

Special Deputy Attorney General
Motor Vehicles SectionNC Attorneys General Office

I was referred to the Motor Vehicles Section of the Attorneys General Office by Mikael Gross, Staff Attorney, Legislative Drafting Division for the NC Legislature.

I am a citizen and taxpayer, so it was disconcerting that, when I called this afternoon, two public servants in your office did not have the courtesy of providing their last names for the record, Michelle, and then Jeanette, who stated that they are not allowed to interpret statutes for the general public due to conflict of interest, since your office represents the DMV.

I asked to speak with anyone who is willing to provide their last name. Eventually, I was able to obtain your name and email address. I hope that you will not be as hostile, and instead, consider that it is extremely important for citizens to understand the laws which govern them.

It is my belief that, by making and enforcing the mandatory universal motorcycle helmet requirement associated with GS 20-140.4, both current and effective January 1, 2008, the State is not mindful of the constitutional requirement of the citizens right to due process. I have contacted many NC officials. So far, all officials have been unable to provide me with a satisfactory answer to the following questions:1. How can consumers and motorcycle operators ensure their helmets comply with FMVSS 218, which is a manufacturers self-certifying standard? 2. How will the statute be enforced without the use of subjective personal approval methods?

I hereby respectfully request written answers to my questions, including an opinion which either confirms or refutes my researched belief that the legislation is unconstitutional due to vagueness, based on such arguments as presented below, in communications with Mikael Gross, (see below). I intend to obey the laws of the State. You intend to enforce the laws. As such, I suspect you either know how you intend to enforce the statute, or you may also experience similar difficulty. If the GS 20-140.4 statute effective January 1, 2008 is written in such language that it cannot be understood without interpretation by the Honorable Judiciary, any refusal to tell citizens how the law will be enforced, speaks for itself, so please either honor this request or forward it to Attorney General Roy Cooper. I will need your response in a hard copy letter.

I have obtained access to a fax machine for incoming communications, in care of the offices of Full Throttle Magazine of the Carolinas, circulation between 30,000 to 40,000 motorcycle operators. Some motorcyclists are asking questions despite lack of notice by the State to make citizens aware of the pending modifications. If you require that I send my questions to you by US Postal Service in order to get a hard copy letter in response from you, please send me your mailing address. If not, please send a hard copy response to the address below.Sincerely,Janice MacKay1009 Lightfoot CtWake Forest, NC 27587

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Opponents of "Freedom of Choice"

Got Freedom? Not if these folks can help it!
Below are insurance companies and organizations that oppose freedom of choice for adult motorcyclists. Is YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY on this list? Any organizations you belong to?
If so, make your voice heard. Change insurance companies and tell the old one exactly why you are changing.

Taken from: Traffic Safety Facts; Laws; Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws April 2004
Who Supports Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws?
• Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
• Allstate Insurance Company
• American Academy of Family Physicians
• American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials • American Academy of Pediatrics • American Coalition for Traffic Safety, Inc.
• American College of Emergency Physicians • American College of Preventive Medicine • American College of Surgeons • American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association • American Insurance Association • American Medical Association • American Nurses Association • American Public Health Association • American Trauma Society • Association of Women"s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nurses • Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine • Brain Injury Association • Center for Rural Emergency Medicine • Emergency Nurses Association • Emergency Nurses CARE • Epilepsy Foundation of America • GEICO • General Federation of Women"s Clubs • Indian Health Service • Motorcycle Industry Council • National Association of County and City Health Officials • National Association of Orthopedic Nurses • National Association of Public Hospitals • National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians • National Association of State EMS Directors • National Association of State Head Injury Administrators • National Center for Injury Prevention and Control • National Conference of Black Mayors • National Flight Nurses Association • National Safety Council • National Sheriffs Association • Nationwide Insurance • Native American Injury Prevention Coalition • Prudential Insurance • State and Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association • Students Against Destructive Decisions • State Farm Insurance • Think First Foundation • Wellness Councils of America

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lobbying DC for Biker's Rights

Tuesday October 23rd dawned with a heavy rain across Middle Tennessee and the prospect of rain for days. The MRF had issued a call to action for bikers from across the nation to come to DC and meet with Congressmen and Senators regarding the recent short sighted NTSB recommendations of mandatory helmet laws for all states and, while there, to ask for sponsorship of the HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Corrections Act. I had just spent a lot of time making appointments with the Tennessee Congressional delegation and the trip was set!

It’s about 600 miles to DC from Nolensville and after picking up my lady Carol at 2PM, we set off for an all night drive, arriving at my brother’s place on Capitol Hill around 3AM. Straight to bed for a few hours then time to start making the rounds.

Jeff Hennie, VP of Government Relations and Lobbyist for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation was waiting for us at our first meeting with TN Congressman Zack Wamp. After a few minutes of small talk we got down to the business at hand and garnered a new co-sponsor for the HIPAA bill.

Next stop was Senator Corker’s office and a meeting with his staff. As is often the case, a planned meeting with a Congressman or Senator changes to a sit down with staff as votes are called on the floor of the House or Senate and this was the case here. The staff are often the key to making sure an issue gets the attention it deserves and we were pleased to meet with the Senator’s Transportation assistant. With so many issues in play at any given time in DC, these staffers are the engine that keeps the wheels turning and the legislators informed.

Senator Lamar Alexander’s office was next and with more votes on the Senate Floor we once again met with staff. While waiting, we were surprised to see recent Nashville Mayoral candidate Bob Clement come in for a meeting with other staffers. From there we hoofed it back over to the House office buildings where we took a quick lunch break before heading off to a meeting with Congressman John Duncan’s staff and the transportation assistant for Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis. It seems Wednesday in DC is a lot like Wednesday in the Tennessee Legislature, the busiest day of the week. The final stop of the day was with Congressman David Davis. He, too, was in the middle of a floor vote so we met with staff then we were escorted by TN State Rep Matt Hill’s brother Timothy to the Rayburn room in the Capitol and a quick photo op with the Congressman.

A quick cab ride had me back in the comfortable surroundings of my brother’s place. There’s nothing quite like having family 12 blocks from the Capitol. We enjoyed a nice evening of dinner, drinks and great conversation with my brother, his wife and Carol’s friend Howard Segermark, an early leader in the history of the MRF who has known my brother and his wife for over 40 years. Sometimes it really is a small world.

After a good seven hours of sleep it was time to hit the concrete again and Thursday morning’s first meeting was with none other than TN Congressman Jim Cooper, the same guy who introduced a national mandatory helmet billwhich became law in the early 1990’s only to see it go down in flames as bikers from across the country lobbied Washington to repeal that law and were successful in 1995.

Jeff Hennie had a conflicting meeting so I handled this one solo. Congressman Cooper was quite receptive to the issues and promised full consideration. He also took the opportunity to defend his position on helmets but took the time to listen to the other side of the story. I believe we opened a new line of communication that may be effective when we deal with the various issues bikers will face in the coming years. My impression is that Jim Cooper won’t be sponsoring any new helmet legislation in the near future.

With a short break in the schedule, I set off to see the Library of Congress and I highly recommend the tour for anyone visiting DC. Next up was my Congressman and current HIPAA bill co-sponsor Marsha Blackburn. After meeting with her Transportation aide we got a quick picture just as Tennessee State Senator Jim Tracy arrived in Marsha’s office. I’m not sure who was more surprised to see the other in DC, me or him. Senator Tracy is a long time supporter of our “Tennessee Freedom” efforts.

A quick meeting with John Duncan’s Transportation aide and a friendly sit down with Congressman Bart Gordon, also a HIPAA co-sponsor thanks to the effort of CMT/ABATE’s Robert “Johann” Forbus, concluded a great couple of days visiting the Tennessee delegation and building relationships that hopefully will serve us well in the future.

By the time it was all said and done my dogs were barking from all the walking but I felt like much was accomplished. I urge all freedom fighters to make the trip and help secure freedom and a safer riding environment for future generations of motorcyclists.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

MI Legislaure PAsses Hemet Bill -Veto Proof?

Motorcycle-helmet bill passes Senate; faces Granholm veto By Amy Lane

Legislation that would allow some motorcyclists to ride without helmets has passed the Senate, after clearing the state House last week.

The Senate on Thursday approved House Bill 4749, sponsored by Barbara Farrah, D-Southgate. The bill would give riders over 21 the option of going helmetless if they pay an annual state permit fee and meet other requirements.

The measure calls for riders to purchase a $100, one-year permit or a $200, three-year permit. They must carry at least $20,000 in insurance to pay first-party medical benefits in the event of an accident, have been licensed for at least two years to operate a motorcycle, and have completed a motorcycle safety course. Riders who do not purchase a permit and ride without helmets face a fine of up to $300. The Senate amended the bill to put money raised by the new permit fees toward a greater number of law-enforcement purposes than previously listed in the bill, and the bill now returns to the House.The legislation appears unlikely to see approval by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who supports the state’s current helmet law and has vetoed past helmet-law repeal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


MRF E-MAIL NEWS Motorcycle Riders Foundation236 Massachusetts Ave. NESuite 510Washington, DC 20002-4980202-546-0983 (voice)202-546-0986 (fax)http://www.mrf.org (website)
Contact: Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice-President of Government Relationsjeff@mrf.org (e-mail)
We Need You In DC!
If you are thinking of taking the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) up on our suggestion to have your State Motorcyclists' Rights Organization (SMRO) make the trip to DC to meet with your members of the House and Senate regarding the recent recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board, please do so prior to November 16th. That's the last day that Congress will likely be in session, barring a few possible days in late December to do some last minute house cleaning before the Holiday break. Please contact the MRF's DC office for further information.

New Guy at NHTSA
James Ports rides a motorcycle. He is also a former member of the Maryland State Legislature and a former Maryland Department of Transportation (DOT) official. He has earned the support and respect of ABATE of Maryland leadership, and he just happens to be the new Deputy Administrator for the US DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Mr. Ports took some time out of his busy schedule recently to sit down with the MRF and ABATE of MD in his spacious new office. At this meeting, which was mainly a meet and greet, Deputy Administrator Ports pledged his support of motorcycling and agreed to work with the MRF as much as he can. NHTSA just continued its recent trend of becoming more motorcycle friendly. Maybe Mr. Ports, whose job is only guaranteed as long Mr. Bush occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, can get a new gig at the National Transportation Safety Board when this one runs it course. That's probably not likely though. Either way he has the support and respect of the MRF.

Thanks to the Mountain State!
ABATE of WV recently made a trip to DC to lobby their members of the House and Senate. The Capitol Hill newbies (it was the first time lobbying DC for the group) put together a first-rate trip and had appointments with every member of the WV delegation. The three-person lobby team allowed the MRF to join them in all of their meetings. It was a successful day to say the least. The high point was meeting with the senior senator from WV, Robert Byrd. Senator Byrd has the distinction of being one of the longest serving Senators in history. He is currently the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, which puts him third in line to the Presidency should something happen to the VP and the Speaker of the House. Senator Byrd welcomed us into his palatial office suite in the Capitol, got up from his lunch of a cheese sandwich and a pickle (this guy is as humble as they come) and chatted about motorcycles for more than a few minutes. Senator Byrd has served West Virginia for over 50 years and has done the mountain state proud. Say what you will about his politics, but he has created a legacy that will stand for decades to come. Keep up the good work Senator and let the MRF know when you are ready for that motorcycle ride. Look for pictures of this meeting in the next issue of the MRF REPORTS.
Motorcycle Vehicle Miles Traveled
Last week the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) held a unique event, the Motorcycle Travel Symposium, a three-day meeting aimed at improving the data used to calculate motorcycle vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

VMT numbers are used to calculate a number of transportation data points. Most noteworthy is the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) used by NHTSA to determine the percentage of fatality rates per miles traveled by any given mode of transportation. Good data is important here because if the number of actual miles traveled is not accurate, then it makes that particular form of transportation appear deadlier than it really may be. You can listen to a detailed presentation on how motorcycle VMT numbers affect FARS data by visiting the archives of the MRF's 2005 Meeting of the Minds at http://www.inbradio.com/media/archives/mrf/motm2005.html.

Up until now it has been optional for states to report any VMT for motorcycles, but that has changed. Starting in June 2008, motorcycle data is no longer optional for states to report to the feds. Remember hearing that no motorcycles travel in South Dakota? The MRF and SMROs have questioned the inaccuracy of motorcycle VMT numbers for several years, and the feds have finally put a stop to that nonsense. You can read more about the MRF's research into motorcycle VMT numbers on the MRF's website at http://www.mrf.org/articles/2005/05NR2105nr21nomotorcyclestravelinsouthdakota.htm.
So why did the FHWA need to have a three-day meeting to address this issue? What is the real problem with collecting accurate VMT numbers for motorcycles? Apparently everything. Let's start with the technological issues. The actual technology used to collect data was designed for cars and trucks, not motorcycles. The small signature of motorcycles is difficult to capture using the tube or hose capture methods. Often times the tubes are only stretched across half a lane giving ample room for the motorcycle to simply go around the foreign object in the road. Some of the newer laser technology may be promising, but it's expensive and easily thrown off calibration by weeds, snow or curious animals. Some of the video collection technology shows some promise, but it too is expensive and difficult to maintain. With dwindling money at state DOTs, new purchases of pricey video cameras and lasers just is not a widespread option.
Then there's the human factor. It is common knowledge that a large number of motorcyclists spend more time on the road from Friday to Sunday. This intuition is backed up by the National Household Transportation Survey, a phone study conducted by the feds that surveys 20,000 plus households on their respective travel habits. Questions include what type of vehicles you own, when and where are you using those vehicles, how many licensed drivers are under your roof, and so on. This study reported that almost 40 percent of all motorcycle travel occurs on the weekends. That becomes a problem because most of the state employees hired to physically collect the data only work Monday through Thursday, so any weekend travel goes unmonitored. Seasons also skew the data, for most northern states see very few motorcycles during winter months and the state DOTs don't adjust for that.

Another major problem is where the VMT data is collected. Most of the states collect data on roads that see the most use by cars and trucks. Think of major interstates, multilane highways and other heavily traveled roads, bridges and tunnels. Now think of where most motorcycle rides occur, on back roads, scenic byways and other out-of-the-way streets. Most motorcyclists purposefully avoid the heavy congestion of an urban environment in favor of lesser-traveled roads with less heavy truck traffic. The statistic commonly used by the states is that they survey just 23% of the roads and leave the other 77% that are generally the responsibility of smaller entities such as townships and villages alone. That's a major discrepancy and a fatal flaw of the VMT data for motorcycles.

It's refreshing, to say the least, that the federal government is finally taking a good hard look at the validity of the motorcycle VMT data. Now the hard part, committing precious resources toward improving the data collection. Simply mandating that the data be reported next year will not automatically ensure accurate numbers, and some argue just the opposite. Now that the states have to do more with the same amount of resources, it may have the effect of fictitious numbers reported just to comply with another federal directive. A lot of serious research is occurring, but until that research is easily translatable to real world situations it's doubtful that the VMT numbers for motorcycles will be believable. Much work remains, but this is with out question a tremendous step forward, and the MRF will continue to monitor and report any progress.

Headed to DC

Next Wednesday and Thurday I will be in DC to lobby the entire TN delegation regarding the HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Corrections Act and the recent NTSB recommendation that all states implement mandatory helmet laws.

YOU CAN HELP.... call your US Congressman and both US Senators from TN and ask for their support on the HIPAA bill, HR 1076 and that the single minded approach to motorcycle safety presented by the NTSB is not the silver bullet for saving lives.

House http://www.house.gov/
Senate http://www.senate.gov/

I will post the results of the visit on my return October 29.