Saturday, June 30, 2007

MA Helmet Bill

BOSTON - Al Rizzo takes his motorcycle helmet off his head as soon as his bike touches the New Hampshire line because it's uncomfortable - and because he can.

"I don't like it," said Rizzo, owner of East Coast Cycle Designs in Methuen. "It's hard to see, and it gets hot. ... I think people should have the choice to wear them or not if they're over 21."

Some state lawmakers agree.

Current law requires all motorcyclists and their passengers to wear a helmet, but several bills heard yesterday by the Legislature's Transportation Committee would allow riders 21 years and older to ride without a helmet.

Sen. Steven Baddour, D-Methuen, said government shouldn't get involved in whether an adult decides to wear a helmet.

"It's like a seat belt," Baddour said. "I'd encourage every motorcyclist to wear a helmet like I encourage seat belts. But at the same time it's a choice. People over 21 have the capacity to make that decision. Government shouldn't be interfering."

That's what Amesbury resident Paul Cote believes. He's director of government relations for the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association. He said the issue is about personal responsibility.

"It should be about choice and personal freedom," Cote said.

It's also about properly training riders. Cote's group wants to increase the share of motorcyclists' registration fees that go into a state fund to subsidize motorcyclist safety training courses. It also wants the state to stop diverting part of that money to the state's general fund, where it is used for expenses unrelated to motorcycle safety.

Yesterday's Transportation Committee hearing followed a series of motorcycle crashes across the region. On Sunday, a motorcycle crashed into a Honda sedan on Route 128 in Danvers, about a quarter-mile from Exit 21. The motorcyclist was taken by helicopter to a Boston hospital. A helmet was found at the crash scene.

In May, a 31-year-old Boston man was killed when his motorcycle collided with a 2003 Ford Expedition turning off Massachusetts Avenue in North Andover.

There are 167,112 motorcycles registered in Massachusetts, according to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Last year, there were 49 fatalities among motorcyclists and their passengers, the agency said.

Even with a helmet law, motorcycle crashes are dangerous and costly, said Inta Hall, public policy consultant with the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts.

The association, which opposes making helmets optional for people over 21, pointed out that in fiscal 2005, there were 2,329 motorcycle-related traffic accident victims treated in state emergency rooms. Of those, 82 percent were of those treated were 21 or older.

Moreover, caring for the victim of a motorcycle accident is more expensive than the average hospitalization. In fiscal 2005, care for the average traffic accident victim cost $37,400. A motorcyclist ran up bills on average exceeding $49,000.

Cote doesn't disagree that there's a cost. But he says the cost is because motorcyclists critically injured in accidents are required to wear helmets that are insufficient.

The minimum standard for helmets is to withstand crashes up to 14 mph, Cote said, so they do very little to protect a rider in an accident. If anything, they keep a person alive so that they're a cost to society.

"If there's a cost, there's the cost of long-term care," Cote said.

But Hall said motorcycle crash victims who wear helmets survive their crashes and can recover.

"Only 7 percent of motorcycle crash victims die in Massachusetts," Hall said. "Whether you wear a helmet or not, we have very good emergency care in this state. I can't see where people say, 'Let me lie on the road side.'"

Some local people interviewed yesterday think helmets are a good idea.

Erik Valcanas of Haverhill said he prefers wearing a helmet when driving his red Kawasaki 750, even when he crosses the border.

It's a skull cap, so he admits it doesn't offer the best protection, but he likes the feel.

"It's not much more than decoration. But it still gives me a small sense of security," Valcanas said. "And it's better with the bugs."

But Valcanas still believes people should be able to choose.

Jason Danella, a Harley driver in Methuen, said most people he sees aren't wearing Department of Transportation-approved helmets anyway, and they take them off at the state line.

Others just make it a point not to drive in Massachusetts.

"I don't think the helmet law is keeping people safer," Danella said. "With people wearing the skull caps, it's almost pointless anyway."

Danella said he actually drives more slowly and cautiously without the helmet.

"When I'm not wearing one, I try not to speed or drive aggressively," he said. "With the helmet, there's a marked difference in vision and hearing your surroundings."

Joseph Richard of Haverhill said he wears his helmet only for fear of being ticketed.

"I'm all for no helmets. It's just a false sense of security," he said. "How much is it really going to protect you if you go down?"

Joe "Sarge" Komola likes riding on a motorcycle because it lets him more fully experience the scenery he passes through than if he were in a car. When he rides his bike through the state's back roads, he can enjoy the trees. He can hear the sounds and take in the smells that people inside automobiles can't.

And Komola doesn't want that experience interrupted by having to wear a helmet.

"There's no guarantee they're going to save your life," said Komola, a Tewksbury resident and vice chairman of the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association. "They make sure you look pretty in a casket."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Freedom in Tennessee - The ”Power of 5”

Freedom in Tennessee - The ”Power of 5”

If you are serious about seeing the Tennessee Helmet law changed so adults 21& over can choose whether to wear a helmet, take 5 minutes and read this.

How do we win our freedom of choice? FIVE at a time. It’s simple, for each one of you reading this, I’m asking you to call your representative and then ask 5 of your friends to call their representative and 5 of their friends and then ask 5 of their friends etc…and pretty soon, thousands of folks are involved in the grassroots campaign that is necessary for “Freedom in Tennessee”. 5X5X5X5X5 = 3,750 SO, if all of those people call 5 more....just think what CAN Happen! I can assure you it WILL NOT HAPPEN, if you do not get involved. Make the calls today and again in January as the session in Nashville resumes. Plan to come to the CMT/ABATE Lobby Day in early February.

The Tennessee Senate passed the current helmet bill to allow adults 21 and over the right to choose. The bill is currently in the House Finance Committee to be heard by the Budget Subcommittee when they return in January of 2008. Below are the committee members who have NOT agreed to vote in favor of HB1283. These folks work for you! Call their local office number or their Nashville office and ask that they support and Co-Sponsor HB 1283. This month we’ll cover the budget subcommittee members.

Speaker Jimmy Naifeh – Covington 901 476-9593 or 615
Lois DeBerry – Memphis - Speaker ProTem 901 743-1133 or 615 741-3830
Craig Fitzhugh – Chairman (Finance) Ripley 731 772-8978 or 716 741-2134
Harry Tindell – Chairman of (Budget) Knoxville 865 524-7200 or 615 741-2031
Joe Armstrong – Knoxville 865 532-6374 or 615 741-0768
Gary Odom – Nashville 615 356-5096 or 615 741-4110
Doug Overbey – Maryville 865 681-8236 or 615 741-0981
Johnny Shaw – Bolivar 731 658-8925 or 615 741-4538
Dennis Roach – Rutledge 865 828-4356 or 615 741-2534

The following should be urged to continue their strong support of freedom and HB1283.
Steve McDaniels – Parkers Crossroads 731 968-7883 or 615 741-0750 (Co-Sponsor)
Michael Harrison – Rogersville 615 741-7480 (Co-Sponsor)
Randy Rinks – Pickwick Dam – 731 925-3985 or 615 741-2007

The best discussion you can have with your representative is face to face. Call and make an appointment to see them in your district. Let them know that you are in favor of HB 1283 and that you would appreciate their support. This issue is not about helmets, it is about a law mandating a device that MAY prevent head injuries but MAY break your neck or cause further neck injuries, a device that is NOT warranted by the manufacturer to protect the wearer and a device that MAY actually be contributing to a number of crashes due to reduced visibility and hearing. Adults should have the freedom to choose!

Available via email: White Paper – Declining Injury Trends Request from
This is a good handout to your legislators and most have seen it before.

Next month we will focus on the balance of the Finance Committee and those who have yet to commit to supporting HB 1283. I or other members of CMT/ABATE are available to speak with groups and at events and welcome the opportunity. Call 615 469-2567 or write Mike Hays
Look up bills and all legislators contact information at

Don’t miss the Southern Thunder Rally, Aug 24-26 in Adams, TN
Join CMT/ABATE on-line at

Bikers for Fred on You Tube

It was a kick ass homecoming for Fred Thiompson and I'm proud to say I was there. CMT/ABATE members helped elect Fred to the Senate and many of us feel he would make a great president.

Monday, June 18, 2007

MD MC Awareness Campaign

A motorcycle advocacy group has begun a grassroots campaign to make drivers more aware of motorcycles on the road.Pairing public service announcements with bright yellow signs bearing the slogan “Look For Motorcycles” posted in private yards along roads around the state, ABATE — A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments, which fights restrictive legislation impacting motorcyclists — hopes to decrease the number of fatalities caused by inattentive drivers.The campaign was launched in memory of Marty Schultz, the former state director of ABATE who was killed last August when an negligent driver violated Schultz’s right of way while he was riding his motorcycle.Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said accidents involving motorcycles are definitely a bigger problem during the summer.“The weather’s nicer, so you see more [motorcycles] on the road,” Gischlar said. In 2006, crashes involving motorcycles in Maryland resulted in 87 fatalities.“We’re trying to get that number down to zero,” Gischlar said.Maryland SHA Spokeswoman Lora Rakowski said that in more than two-thirds of crashes involving both cars and motorcycles, the driver of the vehicle is at fault, usually because he or she didn’t see the motorcycle. Because motorcycles are smaller, they are often harder to see, but Rakowski said that wearing bright colors, reflective gear and riding with your headlights on are ways for motorcyclists to increase their visibility.“Wearing all black and traveling at night is not a good idea,” Rakowski said. But safety is a two-way street, she said, adding that it is important for other drivers to be respectful of motorcyclists and courteous toward them while sharing the road.ABATE State Director Neal Ackerson said that drivers tailgating motorcyclists is a problem he often sees on the roads, and experienced recently himself while riding his motorcycle home to Southern Maryland from Cumberland.“This driver almost came into the back of me — he shouldn’t have been that close,” Ackerson said.Ackerson hopes that the yellow signs will remind drivers to keep an eye out and prevent more tragic crashes from occurring.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Another ROWV

Motorcycle enthusiast dies in accident
By ROBERT WILSON, June 16, 2007
ALCOA - John E. Younce Jr.'s chopper motorcycle was his first.
At 46, he and his wife, Suzanne, had decided to get the necessary training and buy themselves a pair of motorcycles so they could ride together on weekends.

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His was a beauty, sporting a stars-and-stripes paint job. Hers was a Harley-Davidson. They got them in March.
"He was just getting used to it," Suzanne Younce said.
Her husband was sitting still on the chopper at an Alcoa intersection when it was struck from behind by a Ford Mustang. The car's driver, Margaret L. Riddle of Louisville, said she did not see the motorcycle.
Younce, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown off the motorcycle and landed "on his head causing a fatal injury," the report says. Younce was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Younce - known as Gene to his family, John to his business associates and others - was the owner of Advance Transmissions on Western Avenue in Knoxville.
His motorcycle had only 1,800 miles on it when it was hit shortly after 9:30 p.m. Thursday on Hall Road at Associates Boulevard.
An Alcoa Police Department report says Riddle told officers she was approaching the intersection and saw the traffic light turn from red to green. She did not see Younce's motorcycle in the left southbound lane, the same one she was driving in.
Riddle's Mustang rear-ended the motorcycle, propelling it across the intersection, according to the report.
Suzanne Younce said her husband got his motorcycle after it was declared totaled following a fire at the facility "out West" where it was made. It was bought, she said, "for salvage," and thus her husband was able to get it at a great price.
Not willing to sit at home while he went out riding, Suzanne Younce said she also trained on motorcycle skills and safety and got her own. The couple would ride "to Townsend and Madisonville and on back roads."
She said her husband was "tender-hearted, always ready to help, particularly if somebody was having car problems."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

TN Helmet Bill Still Alive

After hearing teasers on News 12 in Chattanooga that the TN Helmet Repeal Bill, HB1283, was dead, Mark "Yog" Moore sets them straight!

Freedom of Choice BillWDEF News 12, TN - From Harleys to sport bikes - No matter what kind of motorcycle you ride, it's mandatory in the state of Tennessee to wear a helmet.But legislation is trying to change that and you may be surprised at who is helping push it through.Mark Moore has put over a hundred thousand miles on his bike.And he would like to put a hundred more, without what he says is a "constrictive helmet."As part of American Bikers Active Toward Education or ABATE, Moore and others are working to pass legislation that will lift the mandatory helmet law in Tennessee and allow anyone 21 years or older to ride without the head gear."Our position has been with this bill, a freedom of choice - 30 other states allow motorcyclists to ride without a helmet. We don't see why Tennessee can't be one of those," Moore said.You might be surprised to learn Moore is a nurse. And some people might think that his stance on the freedom of choice bill is contradictory to his medical profession. "I would say it's no more contradicting than seeing health professionals that smoke or eat fatty foods and are overweight," Moore responded.And Moore is not alone. He says they have several health professionals in the ABATE organization.In fact, the state representative who was the main sponsor of the bill was a doctor.But decided to hand off the sponsorship after flack from some in the Tennessee medical industry."What they've said in the past is that we will spend more money on riders who were hurt because they were unhelmeted," Moore adds.Moore does agree that helmets can prevent injuries, but not all of the time.Preliminary reports from the Tennessee Department of Safety show 134 motorcycle fatalities in 2006...of those 120 were wearing helmets...14 were not and in one case it's unknown."What we ought to be working on is preventing crashes..not learning how to crash better," Moore said.The bill passed the full transportation committee and now will go to the sub-finance committee, but not until the next legislative session

Friday, June 8, 2007

ATV Helmet Bill Passes

Here's the latest nanny state intrusion into peoples lives. Thankfully the bill allows for lightweight "multi-sport", skateboard type helmets, same as for adult motorcyclists.

Lawmakers pass helmet law for children under 18

By: Tonja Burk, Producer
Date created: 6/6/2007 10:48:22 PM
Last updated: 6/7/2007 8:44:50 AM

Legislation that would require children to wear helmets while riding off-road vehicles is headed to the governor for his consideration.

The bill would require helmets for children under 18 years old while riding dirt bikes, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles or dune buggies.

The measure would not apply to private property owned by a child's relative or legal guardian or if the child is operating the vehicle for the purpose of hunting and holds a hunting license.

The state Senate completed legislative action on the bill Wednesday.

The sponsor is Senator Diane Black of Gallatin.

Associated Press
I am proud to announce that HB1335 (Right of Way Violations) passed the Tennessee House today by a margin of 93-3. State Representative Rob Briley did a fine job of carrying the bill to success in the House while Senator Tim Burchett carried the companion Senate bill, SB794, to success.

The bill will go to the Governor after the Senate signs off on a minor amendment that removes unnecessary language that was left in by mistake. Representative Briley will ask the Governor to schedule a ceremonial bill signing event at his earliest convenience.

Thanks to all who called or wrote their legislators. Your support and involvement helped make this bill successful.

It will be up to the motorcyclists of Tennessee to educate those who will enforce and prosecute under this new law. Talking with your local police, prosecutors and judges is the best way to make sure the authorities use the new law where applicable.

Thanks again for your support, WE got it done!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Don't Call Me a Social Burden!

Every time the helmet law debate comes around the safety nannies tell us how much of a social burden the bikers who don't wear helmets will be, costing the state a couple million bucks. Like WE don't contribute to the very system that supports a slew of social programs that the vast majority of bikers don't ever use!

Don’t Call ME a Social Burden!!!!!!!!! This IS MY Country! I AM an American Damnit!

THE COST OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION - Over $140,000,000,000 Per Year

1. $11 Billion to $22 billion is spent on welfare to illegal aliens each year.

2. $2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens.

3. $2.5 Billion dollars a year is spent on Medicaid for illegal aliens.

4. $12 Billion dollars a year is spent on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally.

5. $17 Billion dollars a year is spent for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.

6. $3 Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens.

7. 30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens. COSTS?

8. $90 Billion Dollars a year is spent on illegal aliens for Welfare & social services by the American taxpayers.

Legislative Update

The Tennessee General Assembly is getting ready to wrap for the year and Tennessee’s helmet law modification bill (HB1283/SB1511) is going to be rolled into 2008. IN Tennessee the session is two years so we will go back in January with all of our progress intact. The bill has passed the Senate and has passed the House Transportation Committee. The heat from those who oppose “freedom” has been more vociferous in all the states and Tennessee has been no different. The NCSL, Advocates, AAA and the entire Tennessee medical community have worked hard to stop our progress and will certainly continue in 2008.

When we launched the House bill, Dr. Joey Hensley, representative from Hohenwald, TN, lifetime rider and CMT/ABATE member was the prime sponsor. Two weeks ago Dr. Hensley decided that there was entirely too much emphasis on the helmet and no attention paid to reducing the crashes. He withdrew as the prime sponsor and long time supporter Representative Curry Todd of Collierville took the lead. Rep. Todd has a distinguished background having served in the legislature since 1998 and serving in other capacities since 1976. Rep. Todd’s career was in law enforcement. Dr. Hensley has challenged the medical community to join with the motorcycling community to address the issues which will lead to safer riding.

Over the next 7 months I will be traveling to districts in the state where we need to have additional support from the biker community. It will take a concentrated effort of all CMT/ABATE members as well as all bikers who are committed to gaining freedom of choice for Tennessee. Thunder Roads magazine has offered their support and will be encouraging all to get active.

SB794/HB1335, our Right of Way violations bill has passed the Senate and will be heard in the House next week. Call your House representative and ask them to support HB1335. You can look up your legislators at

MAKE THE CALLS!!!! Let’s see this bill passed!