Wednesday, August 29, 2007

NHTSA Fabricating Trends in Fatal Motorcycle Crashes

Fabricating Trends in Fatal Motorcycle Crashes
by Warren Woodward, Chair, State Legislative Committee
Street Bikers United Hawaii

Recent Trends in Fatal Motorcycle Crashes: An Update ( ) is 72 pages of charts and analysis from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) based on the 10 years from 1995 to 2004. It should have been called Fabricating Trends in Fatal Motorcycle Crashes. Here's why:

Cherry Picking - NHTSA is cherry picking data. In the opening summary, motorcycle fatalities are presented as a crisis: "Since 1997 motorcycle rider fatalities have increased 89%." Wow, sounds bad, but over the years I have received many solicitations from investment newsletters. As a result I've learned how easy it is to pick certain time frames to make profits look good. It's called cherry picking and it's what NHTSA is doing here. Go back 15 years, since 1990, and fatalities have only increased 24%. If you go back 25 years, from 1980 to 2004, the fatalities actually decrease 22%. From the graph below of yearly rider fatalities you can see what I mean:

So instead of starting out the report with a horrifying 89% increase in fatalities, NHTSA could have begun by saying that since 1980 motorcycle fatalities have dropped 22%. But then there's no crisis, and we wouldn't need to be saved, or at least not by them.

Helmets - A chart on page 36 of the report shows that the helmet use rate in fatal crashes was basically unchanged over the 10 years, 1995 to 2004. If helmets "save lives", shouldn't more of the dead be helmetless, especially as fatalities rose 89%? Yet helmeted riders consistently comprise the dead majority at around 54% of fatalities every year. Of course that doesn't stop NHTSA from calling for mandatory helmet laws.

Ultimately, the helmet numbers are useless because they do not reflect anything except how many were wearing and how many were not at time of death. NHTSA might as well have a chart showing how many riders were or were not wearing wristwatches. How can anyone tell if a helmet would have helped or not? Just because someone died without a helmet does not mean they would have lived with a helmet. And how many of the helmeted dead had snapped necks or basal skull fracture? NHTSA doesn't say.

A similar trick was played here in Hawaii just recently by the state Department of Transportation. They emphasized that two thirds of the riders who died in Hawaii last year were not wearing helmets. Of course the implication is that had they been wearing helmets they would not be dead. But we don't know that. The fact is that helmets have not changed the death to accident ratio in any state where they have been mandated ( see Helmet Law Facts at ).

I think fatalities went up over the 10 years for the same reason they went down over the 25 years. And if you find that reason be sure and tell me. My point is there is no one reason. All I know is the more experience and training a rider has the better, but even that won't save you when you're time is up.

VMT - Much of the report is simply invalid since it is based on NHTSA's fictitious Vehicle Miles Traveled. In NHTSA's National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety they actually admit: "Unfortunately, vehicle miles of travel (VMT) data for motorcycles are not reported directly and must be estimated." Fabricated would be a more accurate word than estimated ( see addendum 2, Helmet Law Facts, at ). When it comes to VMT, NHTSA is winging it.

Speed & Alcohol - According to NHTSA, over the 10 years, speed related deaths decreased 6% and alcohol related deaths decreased 8%. That's great, but I always question the accuracy of those numbers. For example, we had a rider here on Maui cross the double yellow line while going up Haleakala. Cars coming down the other way are usually doing at least 60. The Maui News said the accident may have been speed related. Sorry, from where I sit it was intelligence related (and he was wearing a helmet).

Engine Displacement - One of the more troubling aspects of the report is NHTSA's fixation on engine displacement. There are 23 different charts, almost 1/3 of the report's total charts, concerning engine displacement and fatalities--engine displacement and speed, engine displacement and type of crash, engine displacement and type of road, there's even one that compares engine displacement with the days people died!

We all know that motorcycle engine displacement has increased over the years and that a 750, for example, is no longer a "big bike". Somehow though, a popular myth is being created, and NHTSA is fueling it, that increased displacement = increased fatality, especially amongst inexperienced riders. Having got into plenty of accidents when I was uneducated and inexperienced on my first bike which displaced 175cc, I have never bought into this myth.

There is so much more to a motorcycle than displacement. Power to weight ratio has a lot more to do with speed. There are plenty of 600cc rockets that can smoke a bagger with more than twice that displacement. Weight, seat height, rider position, center of gravity, tires, braking capability, and rider experience all play a role in how well a machine can be handled. Yet NHTSA has not figured out how to quantify those so they are not part of the mix. And NHTSA will never be able to quantify karma.

Looking long term, I see NHTSA's displacement fixation leading to a push for graduated licensing whereby riders would be prohibited from owning larger displacement bikes until they passed certain exams over a certain number of years. Outrageous? It's already happening in Europe. NHTSA is laying the groundwork now--creating the problem by cherry picking the displacement data--and the solution will be a graduated license system. I'd bet on it.

Blame the Rider - The undercurrent running throughout NHTSA's report is blame the rider. We are either too young, too old, too fast, too drunk, or the motor's too big. Certainly riders do die because of one or a combination of those. However, there are 75 charts in this 72 page report and not one showing rider fatalities caused by the Right Of Way violations of other road users.

NHTSA is as blind as a Right Of Way violator. What's worse is that, as taxpayers, we pay their undeserved salaries

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Noise Issues

Laws to muffle bikes create confusion, worry
Daytona Beach News-Journal, FL - Cities from New York to Denver are giving motorcyclists the silent treatment. And that worries riders rights groups, which fear that a wave of ordinances aimed at muffling Harley-Davidsons, hushing Hondas and stifling Suzukis will create a confusing patchwork of laws that motorcyclists won't be able to navigate. The motorcycle industry is concerned it could turn these frustrated riders away.

"From our perspective, this creates enormous problems for us because people notice the one motorcycle that makes a lot of noise," said Bill Wood, spokesman for the American Motorcyclist Association. "They don't notice the 50 that pass that don't."
Ordinances come in many forms. Some are against certain types of products -- like mufflers that would rattle the apples off of trees -- while others are aimed more on the intent of the driver, who may want to turn some heads or rile up the neighbors on a Sunday afternoon.

· The Florida Highway Patrol pulls bikers over "when we can hear it" 25 feet or more away, said spokeswoman Lt. Kim Miller. Also, it's against the law to drive any vehicle that has had an exhaust system altered it to make it louder, she said.

· In Daytona Beach a city ordinance prohibits operating "any noise-creating device for the purpose of drawing attention to the source of the noise."

· As of July 1, riders in New York City are subject to a minimum $440 fine for having a muffler or exhaust system that can be heard within 200 feet.

· In Lancaster, Pa., riders -- and all motor vehicle drivers -- could be ticketed for drawing attention to themselves, whether by creating too much noise by revving their engines or doing hard accelerations. Tickets start at $150.

· Motorcyclists in Denver can be ticketed $500 for putting mufflers on their bikes made by someone other than the original manufacturer, if the bike is 25 years old or less. These so-called after-market products can be louder than their manufacturer-made counterparts.

The changes leave riders confused, said Pamela Amette, vice president of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the industry's trade group. Enforcement can be subjective, too. The Council is working with the American Society of Engineers to establish a sound test that would help equalize enforcement.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Southern Thunder Rally a Success Despit Heatwave

The Southern Thunder rally endured scorching temps with a high of 105 on Friday and close to it on Saturday but bikers are tough and ready to party! The crowd Friday night was much larger than last year and both Rockin' Foot Clutch and TKO rocked the house after the local electric coop came out and put a new transformer on the pole, quite a show in itself.

Saturday was more heat and more fun with some great competition in both the bike show and the rodeo games. Bikers rolled through the gate all day and into the early evening and by nightfall, the campground area was full of tents in every direction and the RV field was humming with the sound of 40 generators kickin' out the watts to run the BTUs.

As the sun set the bands fired up and MYTH rocked hard! Over a dozen guys answered the call for the boxer shorts contest and after lots of fun, a young US Army soldier form Fort Campbell won it! The wet t-shirt contest ended up being the "what" T-shirt contest as they didn't even wait for the shirts. The ladies started peeling the swimsuits and more, and the music came up for some serious bumping and grinding. It was hard to decide the winner as our two finalists each got huge ovations. IN the end, the young lady that won it was the one with all the personality!

Stacie Collins ( tok the stage around 10:30 and proceeded to tear it up for a solid 90 minutes. IN addition to regular guitarist Warner Hodges, Dan Baird of the GA Satellites (and Stacie's Producer) joined her for an outstanding dual guitar attack! What a show!

Thanks to Pastor Ron of the Covenant Confirmers MM for the Sunday morning blesings as
he brought the church to the rally!

Thanks to all who came out to the party for the cause, Freedom in Tennessee. This rally supports the operation of the CMT/ABATE state office and our efforts in the legislative and safety areas.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Southern Thunder Rally 8/24-26

I'm off to the Southern Thunder Rally this weekend and hope you will all join me! This rally is presented by CMT/ABATE's charters in Nashville and Springfield to benefit the organization. The funds raised help keep the lights on at the office and generally contribute to the general operation of CMT/ABATE, Tennessee's State Motorcyclists Rights organization.

The weekend's fun includes biker rodeo games like barrel racing, slow ride, weenie bite and tire drag plus many other contests. I hope to beat the heat by taking a plunge or several in the dunk tank.. come out and knock me in! Each night I'll groove to some great music with the following;
Friday: Rockin' Foot Clutch at 7PM and TKO around 9.
Saturday: MYTH opens the show at 7 and Stacie Collins featuring Earner Hodges on guitar will take the stage around 9:30

Other activities include a bike show sponsored by Appleton HD, merch vendors, food and beer and discounted canoe trips on the Red River (provided there's enough water).

Where? Red River Campground on Hwy 41, just north of Adams TN and ten minutes from Springfield. Gates open at noon on Friday, $25 includes rough camping.


Friday, August 17, 2007


THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICE is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. For more information, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit us on our website at

Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)

BIKERS RALLY TO SAVE SAFETY FUNDING When word got out that the US House of Representatives was considering a transportation appropriations bill in late July, and an amendment to eliminate funding for motorcycle safety funds was being proposed, the biker community rallied to the call and succeeded in saving $6 million in grant money provided to 44 states for motorcycle safety programs.

After being reminded by scores of concerned riders across the country that saving lives is more important than saving a few dollars, the amendment by Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling was never introduced and the Section 2010 motorcycle safety funds remained intact as the $104.4 billion dollar FY2008 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill (HR 3074) went on to pass by a vote of 268-153.

TRAFFIC DEATHS REACH HISTORIC LOWS, WHILE MOTORCYCLE FATALITIES CLIMB Declining traffic deaths has lead to the lowest highway fatality rate ever recorded, announced the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The number of people who died on the nationÂ’s roads fell by 868 deaths last year, the largest drop in total fatalities in 15 years; representing a 2% decline that contributed to the historic low fatality rate of 1.42 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT), reported U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters.

But while total highway deaths fell from 43,510 in 2005 to 42,642 in 2006, the lowest level in five years, motorcycle fatalities continued to escalate for the ninth consecutive year following a decade of steadily declining fatality rates. Data from NHTSAÂ’s 2006 Annual Assessment of Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Fatalities and Injuries shows that 4,810 motorcyclists were killed on AmericaÂ’s roadways last year, an increase of 5.1 percent over 2005. Motorcycle rider fatalities now account for 11 percent of total fatalities, exceeding the number of pedestrian fatalities for the first time since NHTSA began collecting fatal motor vehicle crash data in 1975.

Many blame the increase on the rise in popularity of motorcycles, with states experiencing record numbers of registrations and dealers selling record numbers of new bikes year after year for over a decade. Other experts cite the aging ridership, bigger bikes, changing traffic mix, miles traveled and other factors.

A comprehensive study into the causation of traffic accidents involving motorcycles is expected to begin later this year at the Oklahoma Transportation Center at Oklahoma State University, the first such motorcycle-crash study since the Hurt Report in 1980.

The National Transportation Safety Board conducted a motorcycle safety forum late last year to explore safety concerns in that sector of transportation.

While driving has never been safer in the U.S., internationally the United States ranks 42nd of 48 countries measured in the number of highway fatalities per capita. And although the fatality rate has plummeted since 1970, when the U.S. led the world in road safety with the lowest death rate among industrialized countries reporting data, it now ranks 11th in fatalities per distance driven.

Safety experts say the reasons are many. Bella Dinh-Zarr, the North American director of Make Roads Safe, a nonprofit organization based in London, said other countries have stricter laws, better enforcement, more accessible public transportation, greater awareness, public support and more rigorous training and licensing standards.

But expert after expert said the real problem was one of culture. With personal freedom being a cornerstone of the United States, many states are loath to pass legislation that curtails them, even when it comes to road safety. So while the governments of other countries can easily pass laws to make driving safer, like a national ban on hand-held cellphone use, those laws here are left up to the states to impose, and that is often not so easy. Fred Wegman, managing director of the National Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands, said attitudes were different in Europe. There, he said, safety is not just about the individual, but is the responsibility of society as a whole. “European countries fundamentally pay more political attention to road safety,” he said.

HELMETS DONÂ’T SAVE LOUISIANA MOTORCYCLISTS Despite passing a mandatory helmet law in 2004, motorcycle fatalities in Louisiana are on a record pace and on course for one of the worst totals in the country, Highway Safety Commission executive director James Champagne told attendees at a safety summit in Baton Rouge.

The summit, produced by the Louisiana Motorcyclist Safety and Awareness Committee and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission was convened to decrease the number of motorcycle fatalities and injuries in Louisiana. Achieving that goal is urgent.

Champagne told summit attendees that more motorcycle fatalities are projected for this year in Louisiana than in any other year in the state's history. If the trend continues, we will have not only the state's worst year, but also one of the worst totals in the country.

At the Louisiana summit, safety officials pinpointed reasons for the alarming increase in motorcycle fatalities. One is lack of professional training. Champagne says training should be required before a cycle owner or rider can apply for a license.

Ultimately, according to Champagne, almost all the factors that contribute to the problem can be reduced by new legislation, enforcement of existing laws - and mandated education.

LOUD PIPES TICKET DISMISSED The first and only ticket that police have issued to a motorcyclist under Denver's controversial new noise ordinance has been dismissed. Attorney Wade Eldridge, himself a biker, challenged the law on behalf of his client, Stuart Sacks, who was pulled over in LoDo and ticketed for having an "unlawful modified muffler," records show.

"The officer neither inspected his bike to see if it had the stamp nor did he use a sound meter," Eldridge said. "So the most they would have had was the officer's gut feeling that it was too loud, which is not enough."

Designed to curb motorcycle noise, the controversial new ordinance took effect July 1st and limits noise levels to 82 decibels from a distance of 25 feet, and requires motorcyclists with bikes made after 1982 to have a muffler with an EPA noise-certification stamp.

Eldridge, who is the Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney for Colorado and legal counsel for the Confederation of Clubs of Colorado, also claims the noise ordinance is unconstitutionally vague. The law "lends itself to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement," he told the Rocky Mountain News. "The police can stop you for whatever reason."

Eldridge said the law leaves enforcement up to the "unfettered discretion of the individual officer," adding that his client was told he was stopped because his pipes were too loud.

Police Capt. Eric Rubin, who used to head the Traffic Operations Bureau, didn't know the details of that stop but said officers are using their training and experience in the field "as reasonable suspicion to briefly stop the rider" and check for the EPA stamp.

But the city's decision to drop the case highlighted a fundamental flaw in the law - Denver police aren't equipped with the $1,000 noise monitors needed to make the charge stick, said Eldridge, adding that, "In any case in which it's properly challenged, the city has an impossible burden." The reason Assistant City Attorney April Snook cited in her motion to dismiss the case was the city was "unable to prove charge beyond a reasonable doubt."

Ellen Dumm, spokeswoman for the city's Environmental Health Department, said an "oversight" caused the case to be dismissed. "The police officer did not inspect the pipes for the required (Environmental Protection Agency) sticker," she said, adding that the dismissal was a "one-time" thing and that the ordinance's enforcement will result in quieter streets.

Eldridge points out that even police bikes may be louder than DenverÂ’s allowable limits. According to court documents, tests conducted by the city on police motorcycles found sound levels at redline of 81.3 decibels and 81.7 decibels, and since the accuracy of the sound meters the city used is within plus or minus .5 decibels, police motorcycles may be in violation of the new noise law, Eldridge said.

PATCH BAN AT STURGIS BAR SPURS BOYCOTT, POSSIBLE LEGISLATION A beef with Hells Angels could inspire legislation to protect wearing motorcycle-club “colors,” a state legislator told Rapid City Journal columnist Bill Harlan during Sturgis Bike Week. One-Eyed Jacks saloon on Main Street was boycotted during the rally because it is the only bar in town that bans motorcycle club insignia, and they even barred South Dakota State Representative Jim Putnam from entering while wearing the colors of his own dangerous motorcycle club, the Lawmakers.

“If this persists, I’ll consider it,” said Rep. Putnam, R-Armour, who sometimes wears a Sturgis motorcycle rally necktie during the legislative session. “Putt” is not only a long-time motorcyclist himself, but is also a long-serving member of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists Legislative Task Force (NCOM-LTF), and anti-biker discrimination legislation is on their agenda.

Putnam added that legislation protecting motorcycle attire passed the state House in the early 1990s. It failed in the Senate, he said, but a similar Minnesota law has survived court challenges.

Now, Putnam supports a boycott of the saloon. “I’m not going in there,” he told the Journal. But One-Eyed Jack's owner Ray Gold is just as adamant about keeping his new ban on “back patches,” which he told the newspaper is to keep out the Hells Angels, whose Sturgis headquarters is near the bar.

But the ban on patches also angered Louis Nobs of Hibbing, Minn., who was barred entry wearing his Soldiers for Jesus colors. “You can’t ban patches for just one group,” he said. “If you ban them for motorcyclists you have to ban them for bowling teams, the Knights of Columbus -- everyone.”

Nobs is on the board of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, and he helped distribute 60,000 fliers calling for the boycott.

ChiPS STAR NEVER GOT MOTORCYCLE LICENSE TV biker cop Erik Estrada has revealed he never passed his motorcycle test. Estrada played California Highway Patrol motorcycle cop Ponch in 1970s hit CHiPs, reports The Sun.

But he never actually had a motorcycle license for real. Estrada, now 58, had to hurriedly arrange a bike test when he was assigned to the California Highway Patrol for a new reality TV show.

And it took him three attempts to pass before he could appear on “Back To The Grind”, a show that gets actors to try their TV jobs.

WEIRD NEWS: A motorcycle was once plucked out of the Los Angeles sewer system. It's the largest object ever found in there!

QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Knowledge is power (Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est).”Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626) English statesman and philosopher

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

True Biker Story

In the News-Tribune, Editor/Publisher Rebecca Tudley writes this true story.

“The way my friend told it, this guy pushed his motorcycle from the patio into his living room where he began to clean the engine with some rags and a bowl of gasoline. When he finished, he sat on the motorcycle and decided to start it to make sure everything was still Ok.

Unfortunately the bike started in gear and crashed through the glass patio door with him still clinging to the handlebars. His wife came running at the noise and found him crumpled on the patio badly cut from shards of broken glass. She called 911 and the paramedics transported the guy to the emergency room.

Later that afternoon after many stitches had pulled her husband back together, the wife brought him home and put him to bed. She cleaned up the mess in the living room and dumped the bowl of gasoline in the toilet. Shortly thereafter, her husband woke up, lit a cigarette and went into the bathroom. He sat down and tossed the cigarette into the toilet which promptly exploded because the wife had not flushed the gasoline away. The explosion blew the man through the bathroom door. The wife heard the explosion and her husband screams. She ran into the hall and found him lying on the floor with his trousers blown away and burns on his buttocks. The wife again ran to the phone and called for an ambulance.

The same 2 paramedics were dispatched to the scene. They loaded the husband on the stretcher and began carrying him to the street. One of them asked the wife how the injury had occurred. When told them, they began laughing so hard that they dropped the stretcher and broke the guy’s collarbone”. Talk about instant Karma….

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Who's Your Nanny?

Remarks of Judith Lee Stone
President of Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety And Member of the Advisory Board of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running
Monday, August 6, 2007
Recently the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the annual motor vehicle fatality toll for 2006 that indicates minor overall improvement over 2005, but the total number of fatalities last year – 42,642 -- is still one of the largest in the last decade.
The small decrease clearly represents neither steady nor sustained progress toward addressing the number one killer of all Americans between the ages of 4 and 34.

I see two major ironies in these numbers, related to today’s topic: First, the number of deaths, and the death rate -- 1.42 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled – still leave the U.S. lagging behind other industrialized nations throughout the world.

Within a few days of NHTSA’s announcement, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Transport Forum reported that the U.S. ranks 42nd out of 48 countries in motor vehicle deaths, based on number of fatalities per capita. The OECD report shows that Australia, Britain, France, Germany and Japan dramatically outperformed the U.S. in deaths per capita, and when measuring lowest death rates by miles driven, the U.S. ranked only 11th.

Our low global ranking may come as a surprise to some. The second irony that occurs to me is that most of the countries that do better than the U.S. in getting a handle on this major public health problem have been benefiting from wide use of automated enforcement, usually without public opposition, for decades. So we shouldn’t be surprised they do better than we do. Why wouldn’t governments struggling to contain costs and looking for effective ways to protect families choose readily-available technologies that lead to safer roads and neighborhoods, and why wouldn’t they see the results of their actions in the bottom line?

If you knew there was a proven technological application that would cure a lifethreatening disease diagnosed by your doctor, would you settle for anything less in the hospital?
In this country, we know the solutions to reducing highway deaths and injuries but it seems we are often lacking the political leadership to enact the necessary laws and regulations to do so. We need to construct a much better safety policy infrastructure that is then vigorously enforced, if we want sizeable reductions in the annual motor vehicle crash and fatality picture.

With photo enforcement now being used in a majority of states and over 200 localities, there may be an assumption that the U.S. is implementing this technology as effectively as possible. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and there is a need for federal leadership and positive guidance to the states.

Only 17 states and the District of Columbia have enabling legislation to permit and define how photo enforcement should be used. And, only three states have passed such legislation in recent years. Despite overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness of photo enforcement to combat red light running and speeding both here and abroad, there has been very little encouragement to our state legislatures for taking such action from the federal level.

Growth in the use of automated enforcement has come almost entirely from communities – having already appealed to state representatives, but unwilling to wait any longer – that have proceeded with implementing programs without state authorization. These systems are working well throughout the nation, reducing crashes, deaths and injuries. Automated enforcement is predictably effective and a proven highway safety vaccine.

The majority of Americans agree that enforcement on our roadways is too lax.
Poll after poll, including surveys conducted for my own organization by Lou Harris starting nearly 10 years ago, indicate high levels of support for automated enforcement to stop red light running and speeding. The politicians and other government leaders need not worry about a backlash.

As a member of the Advisory Board of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running and the President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, I want to commend this report, Focus on Safety, and am glad it is being sent to the National Surface Transportation Commission. I urge the Commission to stress the importance of state enabling legislation by recommending in their report to Congress that states adopt such legislation to authorize the use of photo enforcement for red light running and speeding. While every American community may not need or choose to use automated enforcement, it should be an option that is available at the determination of law enforcement and traffic control experts in each jurisdiction throughout the country.

Thank you.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Pop a Wheelie - Pay BIGGGG!

State cracks down on biker wheelies (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Hill)
Motorcyclists who ride on one wheel on Tennessee's public roads or in areas frequented by the public now can be cited for reckless driving. A state law that went into effect July 1 opens the way for a misdemeanor change for driving a motorcycle with the front tire intentionally raised off the ground. "I had talked to Judge Clarence Shattuck in Chattanooga, who had to dismiss a ticket because it wasn't a part of reckless driving (legislation)," Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, said. "That's what prompted the bill." Rep. Dean, who owns a motorcycle and is a former Chattanooga police officer, and Sen. Dewayne Bunch, R-Cleveland, sponsored the bill "It's not only a danger to the rider but to others on the roads," he said. "I'll argue with any rider that even if you're trained, you can't have control on a roadway if you're doing a wheelie. Even on two wheels, if you hit a patch of gravel, it can throw you off your bike." Chattanooga motorcyclist Christopher Cavin, 23, said he thinks the reckless driving charge is too harsh. "If there's no traffic, I don't see the problem if you know what you're doing," he said. "If you're in traffic and doing wheelies in and out of cars, that is reckless."