Bipartisan Senate Bill would Ban Federal Funding for Motorcycle-Only Checkpoints
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan bill introduced today by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) would prohibit the use of federal funds in establishing motorcycle-only checkpoints.
Specifically, the “Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act” would restrict the Secretary of Transportation from granting funds to any government entity for a program to check helmet use or to create checkpoints for an operator of a motorcycle or a passenger on a motorcycle. The American Motorcyclist Association and the Motorcycle Riders Foundation fully support the bill.
“Motorcycle-only checkpoints are discriminatory, forcing riders and their passengers to do something not asked of other citizens, simply because we choose to travel on two wheels, or three, instead of four,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “The AMA believes the money used for these operations could be better spent supporting programs that conduct rider education, reduce distracted driving and encourage motorist awareness of motorcycles.”
U.S. House of Representatives Ethanol Study Bill Introduced
Congressman James Sensenbrenner has once again introduced a bill that would call for the study of mid-level ethanol blends and their effect on internal combustion engines.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a waiver to the Clean Air Act that allowed for the sale of ethanol blends of up to 15 percent. The EPA never studied the effects of the high blend on the power train of any vehicle. They only studied tailpipe emissions.
H.R. 21 calls for the study of the new, untested, higher blends, which is sorely needed. Some motorcycle manufacturers are voiding warranties if the 15 percent blend is used in the vehicle.
NHTSA Announces Drop in Motorcycle Fatalities
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that motorcycle fatalities have dropped for the second year in a row, reports the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF). According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, or FARS data, collected by the federal government, motorcycle fatalities for 2013 dropped from 4,986 to 4,668 a difference of 318. The motorcycle fatality drop was the largest percentage of all vehicle groups at 6.4 percent. This is the second year on year drop in motorcycle fatalities since 2009.
This is an encouraging trend, but it is likely just that. It is a promising direction, since more motorcycles continue to be registered year after year.
Another aspect motorcyclists can be proud of is the decrease in the number of alcohol related deaths. Fatal crashes where alcohol was a factor dropped by 117 deaths, or 8.3 percent, also the largest decrease in the category.
Also reported was the drop in the number of injured motorcyclists from 93,000 to 88,000, a 5.4 percent drop. Eighty-eight thousand still seems like an awfully large number but consider that the number of passenger vehicle injuries is 2,046,000 for 2013. The drop in injured motorcyclists is again the largest decrease in the category.
New NHTSA Administrator Announced
It may have taken nearly a year, but President Barack Obama has finally made his choice for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administrator. The White House announced it was nominating Mark Rosekind , currently a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) board member, to lead NHTSA. Rosekind now faces Senate confirmation.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton has said that he's glad to see the president is “finally taking steps to fill this critical safety post, especially in light of the mounting recalls."
Rosekind, sleep scientist by training, has been on the NTSB's board since 2010. Before that, he spent 13 years as the president of Alertness Solutions, and also worked for NASA for several years. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called Rosekind a "leader ready-made for this critical responsibility," adding it would be his job not only to hold automakers accountable, but "raise the bar on safety.” According to the NTSB website, Rosekind is a leading expert in human fatigue.