Thursday, September 27, 2007

PA's Response to NTSB


On 9-11 the NTSB issued recommendations to states to require all motorcyclists and their passengers to wear Department of Transportation federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) 218-compliant helmets.

A.B.A.T.E. of Pennsylvania, the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education, has expressed their opposition to the NTSB safety recommendations. Accident prevention saves lives, not federal mandates. Greater penalties for right-of-way violations and stricter laws for inattentive driving would be more effective. Motorist need to pay greater attention to the action of driving. Being behind a wheel of an automobile is NO time to multi-task.

Pennsylvania already has a helmet law. The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 259 in 2003. That legislation modified the existing mandatory motorcycle helmet law to provide qualified adult motorcycle operators and passengers with the option to decide what is best for themselves. Pennsylvania Senators and Representatives supported a minimum of two year riding experience or successful completion of an approved motorcycle rider education program as condition for optional helmet use by motorcycle operators 21 years of age or older.

While the law does allow freedom of choice in the use of helmets it also contains safeguards for those not yet trained or skilled enough to make an informed decision on helmet safety. Enactment of the freedom of choice bill on helmets represents what our founding fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution….that government works best with the consent of the governed.

Facts not fiction…

Since the helmet modification Pennsylvania has experienced a sharp rise in motorcycle sales and a dramatic increase in biker tourism. In 2003 there were 263,696 registered motorcycles. In 2006 that number increased to 335,720. In 2005 there were 205 motorcycle fatalities.

In 2006 the fatality rate decreased to 187.

Between 2000 (before helmets were made optional) and 2005 (after), motorcycle registrations in Pennsylvania increased 48.3%. Fatalities in motorcycle crashes also increased, but only 36%.

A study by the State Legislative Budget and Finance Committee in 2006 found an 8.6% decrease in motorcycle fatalities, per 10,000 registrations, from 2000 to 2005.

Most motorcycle fatalities in 2005 involved bikers who wore helmets. Only 42.6% involved known non-helmeted motorcyclists, and the report does not say what portion of them died of something other than head trauma.

Conclusion: The NTSB implies in its recommendation that thirty state governments have somehow "got it wrong" when it comes to the validity of universal mandatory helmet laws. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Most of these states have had, at one time or another, a universal mandatory helmet law, yet considered the results and modified their laws accordingly.

A.B.A.T.E. of PA believes that state legislators have more intelligence than the NTSB gives them credit for. A.B.A.T.E. of Pennsylvania states, “Nothing illustrates individual freedom more than bare-headed bikers, and many federal authorities detest freedom. We believe they will do anything to suppress it. “ The NTSB reached its recommendations with little or no input from the motorcycle community. This is just another incident of bureaucrats in Washington trying to ram regulations down the throats of all fifty states. We’ll have none of it.


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