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Old 10-07-2008, 03:00 PM   #1
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U.S. Officials Seek Mandatory Helmet, Training Rules as Biker Deaths Rise

Noticed this today when I arrived in D.C.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...100603148.html

It suggests that mandatory helmet laws and training are the answer to the increase in motorcycle-related fatalities. Writing a law is the answer to dealing with a few irresponsible people?

Here is the text in case the link breaks at some point:

Ready to Rumble, With Care
U.S. Officials Seek Mandatory Helmet, Training Rules as Biker Deaths Rise

One motorcyclist slammed into a pole at 27th and K streets in Northwest Washington. Another was ejected into a bean field on Maryland's Eastern Shore. A sport-utility vehicle struck a biker in Virginia Beach, and a woman careered off the road, smashing her motorcycle into a guardrail in Southwest Virginia.

In an eight-hour span over the Labor Day weekend, motorcycle crashes in the region left four people dead, underscoring a trend that has become what the country's top transportation official calls "our nation's greatest traffic highway safety challenge."

Only 2 percent of all vehicles on the nation's roads last year were motorcycles, yet they were involved in 11 percent of all traffic accidents, leaving slightly more than 5,100 riders dead and 103,000 injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatalities have more than doubled over a decade as more motorcycles have hit the road.

At the same time, as cars have become safer and gasoline prices have reduced the number of miles driven, overall traffic fatalities dropped last year to their lowest level since 1994.

The steady rise in motorcycle crashes has become a top concern of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said Secretary Mary Peters, who broke her collarbone a few years ago when she crashed her Harley-Davidson Road King at 40 mph. A helmet saved her life, she said.

To address the problem, the Transportation Department is developing national standards for entry-level riders and has launched an educational campaign on the importance of wearing helmets and other safety gear. Congress has also become involved, authorizing $2 million for a study of crashes' causes.

One of the main reasons behind the increase, experts and industry officials say, is a no-brainer: There are simply more motorcycles on the road. The number of registered bikes is nearly 7 million. Sales of new motorcycles rose every year between 1992 and 2006 and now tops more than a million annually.

"I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that more bikes out there is going to mean more crashes," said Dave Hepburn, an instructor at Apex Cycle Education, a motorcycle safety school in Northern Virginia.

But lack of proper training and the easing of helmet laws in recent years by several states, including Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas, might also be contributing to the statistics, officials said.

Once symbols of freedom and escape, motorcycles now have a far more practical allure: fuel efficiency. Also, motorcycles are easier to park and are exempt from HOV restrictions in many jurisdictions. As a result, more are being used for commuting to work, and many of those commuters are riding scooters. New sales of scooters have jumped from 12,000 a year in 1997 to 157,000 last year, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

"Motorcycling has become mainstream," said Mike Mount, a spokesman for the council. "There used to be a stereotypical biker, but now the average motorcycle owner is your next-door neighbor."

New riders on the road have fueled a shift in a culture once dominated by those who viewed motorcycles as much of a way of life as a mode of transportation. But many beginning riders are finding out the hard way that switching from four wheels to two can be difficult -- and dangerous.

"You're not wrapped in a cocoon of metal," said Dean Thompson, spokesman for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which develops the curriculum standards for virtually all motorcycle rider classes. "You don't have a seat belt. It's just different."

As a Fairfax County police motorcycle patrolman, Jesse Bowman has seen his share of crashes, including people with severed limbs -- and worse -- after bouncing and sliding on the road. One man lost control of his Harley on a curve with his wife aboard. She flew over the guardrail and down a steep hill but somehow survived. His leg was impaled on the guardrail and had to be amputated.

That crash cemented what Bowman had long known: Too many people aren't skilled in the finer points of riding -- when to brake, how to handle a turn -- and it persuaded him to do something about it. Bowman founded a motorcycle school, Motorcycle Riding Concepts, with other officers.

"Many, many motorcyclists never have any formal training of any kind," Bowman said. "So how are they taught? Big brother, dad, the kid down the street. Or they pick the motorcycle up and teach themselves. . . . Then when they get into a jam, they don't have the skill sets."

Motorcycle crashes killed 224 bikers in Maryland and Virginia last year, according to the traffic safety administration. In the more urban District, there were three.

Yesterday, a 24-year-old Charles County man died after he lost control of his Suzuki motorcycle in Hughesville and hit a guardrail. Police think that speeding was to blame.

One of the problems, Bowman said, is "it doesn't take much to get a motorcycle license." As in the District and Maryland, Virginia applicants must pass a vision and written test, get a learner's permit and then pass a skills test. Although they encourage riders to complete a basic motorcycle safety course before hitting the road, none requires it for all applicants. Maryland requires additional training only for those under 18.

"The bar on training definitely needs to be raised," Bowman said.

But crashes aren't always caused by bikers, who many times are run off the road or hit by inattentive drivers. Half of all motorcycle crashes involve other vehicles, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. To better protect motorcyclists, the Maryland General Assembly this year passed a law that sharply increases fines for motorists who fail to yield the right of way. And area police departments say they are ramping up enforcement of helmet and safety regulations.

At a recent motorcycle checkpoint conducted on the George Washington Memorial Parkway by Arlington County police and U.S. Park Police, authorities gave citations to nearly a third of the 76 people they pulled over. Eight had no motorcycle license and one had his license revoked because of a prior DUI , said Arlington police Lt. Robert Medairos.

The increase in crashes isn't fueled only by young thrill seekers riding sports bikes known as "crotch rockets" that can hit speeds of nearly 200 mph, authorities say. Many are older riders who have never been on a motorcycle before or haven't ridden in years.

They are people who, like Peters, the transportation secretary, "rode when we were younger, stopped and raised a family, and go buy a big, full-size motorcycle with the larger engine," she said. "And we're not quite as spry as we were. Our reflexes aren't as good, our vision isn't as good . . . and don't always go to the training schools as we should."

Another problem, officials say, is that only 21 states require all riders to wear a helmet. Although a recent survey found that helmet use was up this year from last year, only 63 percent of riders wear helmets that are certified as safe by the Transportation Department. And about a quarter of all riders wear no helmet at all.

Woody Kees of Springfield decided to learn to ride in his retirement at age 65, even though while astride a Honda Rebel at a recent motorcycle training course he admitted, "I've always been afraid of these." The closest he had ever gotten to riding a motorcycle was the moped he rode in Bermuda more than 20 years ago.

But he'd like to get out and see what the countryside looks like from a motorcycle. And even though he struggled to shift gears, stalled out and at times wobbled through an obstacle course, once almost tipping over, he stuck with it, slowly getting better. By the second day of the course, he felt "100 percent better," he said. He passed a written exam, with a 94, and a three-part skills test. The following Monday, he marched down to the motor vehicles department with a certificate that made him eligible for a driver's license that allows him to drive a motorcycle.

Not that he feels ready yet to get out and ride in traffic. It's too dangerous, he said, and he still needs more practice.
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helmet law gone, deaths and head injuries up RACER X General Discussion (Moto Related) 28 06-14-2008 09:20 PM
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Old 10-07-2008, 03:06 PM   #2
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I don't see any problem with mandatory training..............for everyone. There's too many people riding around with no experience or even a license, and there's to many dumbshit cagers who can't bother to get off their f'in cellphone long enough to actually DRIVE.
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Old 10-07-2008, 03:17 PM   #3
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I'd support a mandatory helmet law and MSF being mandatory to ride bikes on the street.

I don't know if I would have survived my first month without MSF.

If it fails to pass as law though, aside from a small percentage of accidents, I hate to say it but hooray darwinism.
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Old 10-07-2008, 03:20 PM   #4
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Im fine with a mad. lid law.
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Old 10-07-2008, 03:23 PM   #5
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i would support a tougher skills test. the test they administer is a joke
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Old 10-07-2008, 03:23 PM   #6
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The helmet law will never happen. More and more states are repealing the helmet laws on the books. They have been found unconstitutional. I would never ride without a lid, but I oppose helmet and seatbelt laws 100%. People can legally smoke and drink themselves to death, so I have the right to put myself in more danger if I am dumb enough.
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Old 10-07-2008, 03:43 PM   #7
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The helmet law will never happen. More and more states are repealing the helmet laws on the books. They have been found unconstitutional.
Where do you get all that from? Name one case where it was upheld that a helmet law was "unconstitutional".

In the last TEN years, only 3 states have repealed their helmet laws and ALL 3 of those states still have some type of restrictions (e.g. age restriction, training and/or insurance requirement).

Florida was the most recent to repeal (partially) their full helmet laws and the death rate skyrocketed.

And just for the record, no, I don't believe in helmet or seatbelt laws, but I also don't believe in taking care of people that choose not to wear one.
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Old 10-07-2008, 04:29 PM   #8
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If you get killed in a traffic incident and you werent wearing your seatbelt or helmet.....insurance policy is void.

Saw that happen on more than one occasion....guy riding along at great speed, crashed with no helmet and died. His life insurance policy was a no go.....200K down the drain for his family.

Personally I think its an inidividuals choice. If you want to take that chance, go for it. Its your life.
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Old 10-07-2008, 04:44 PM   #9
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This entire debate comes down to one simple question: Who owns the body of any given motorcycle rider? The obvious answer is: the rider. Therefore, the only person who has the right to determine whether a rider wears a helmet while riding is himself. Those who agree with helmet laws, however, obviously believe that riders body is actually the property of the state, for only if one believes that the state owns riderís body can one conclude that the state has the right to dictate to him what risks he may or may not take with his person. Itís simply a matter of private property. Either the riders body belongs to him, in which case he can do what he wants with it, or it belongs to the state, in which case the legislature can dictate to him all kinds of things he may or may not do with it. Thereís no middle ground.
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Old 10-07-2008, 04:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
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This entire debate comes down to one simple question: Who owns the body of any given motorcycle rider? The obvious answer is: the rider. Therefore, the only person who has the right to determine whether a rider wears a helmet while riding is himself. Those who agree with helmet laws, however, obviously believe that riders body is actually the property of the state, for only if one believes that the state owns riderís body can one conclude that the state has the right to dictate to him what risks he may or may not take with his person. Itís simply a matter of private property. Either the riders body belongs to him, in which case he can do what he wants with it, or it belongs to the state, in which case the legislature can dictate to him all kinds of things he may or may not do with it. Thereís no middle ground.
The issue isn't quite as cut and dry as that though. Because when the helmetless ride DOES die.....who picks up the tab for scrapping him off the street? I, personally, don't want to fit that bill. If that requires mandating $130 worth of safety equipment, so be it.
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Old 10-07-2008, 05:07 PM   #11
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I believe they need more trainings for riders.

I also believe they need tougher laws on cell phone usage while operating a vehicle. I can not count the many times someones crossed into my lane, swapped lanes without signaling, or just plain pulled out in front of me while they were on a cell phone.

Tougher laws on drivers that cause injuries or deaths of motorcyclist because of their carelessness or crappy driving habits.
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Old 10-07-2008, 05:27 PM   #12
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I don't see any problem with mandatory training..............for everyone. There's too many people riding around with no experience or even a license, and there's to many dumbshit cagers who can't bother to get off their f'in cellphone long enough to actually DRIVE.

and here is a fine example of dumbass cagers and the jackass was supposed to be a "professional Driver"


No charges brought against killer truck driver
By Visordown News
US trucker gets off with a £75 fine after his truck kills biker after dragging him more than 300ft

A LORRY driver in America will not face criminal charges despite driving right over the top of a teenage motorcyclist waiting at a junction, killing him.
Driver John F. Stillabower, 47, of Indianapolis will be issued traffic citation for unsafe start, Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington said today.

"After reviewing it with the Lafayette Police Department, no criminal charges will be filed based upon the facts," he said.

Bradley Trifone, a Purdue University student, died in the September 23 crash. It was his 19th birthday.

Trifone and the truck both were heading north on Sagamore Parkway and had been stopped at the traffic light at Teal Road. When the light turned green, Stillabower accelerated - driving over the top of the motorcycle and the rider. Trifone was dragged more than 300 feet. Stillabower told investigators he did not see the motorcycle.

Sgt. Max Smith of the Lafayette Police Department said investigators have received results of a blood test taken from Stillabower. He tested negative for the presence of alcohol or drugs. Smith said he spoke today with Stillabower and will be mailing the £75 penalty ticket to Indianapolis. "There was no criminal intent on the behalf of the semi driver," Smith said, explaining why charges will not be filed.
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Old 10-07-2008, 06:14 PM   #13
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I have no major objection to helmet and gear laws, they can either enforce them or relax them, I don't think it is the most important part of the equation.

Training is way more critical in my opinion, training is what allows you react better in an accident situation, or possibly avoid one altogether. The more training and in particular the more experience you have is a far better safety factor than helmet and gear alone.

I would personally never ride without gear, but to me gear is a passive safety measure. It may be the only thing that can save your when the other guy runs you over without looking, but training and experience may be the factor than allows you to be ahead of the situation before it starts.

Making everyone wear gear doesn't give the masses the experience and skill to ride safely right off the bat, a good national training program and a harder license exam would do much better for safety than forcing a novice to wear a helmet.
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Old 10-07-2008, 06:17 PM   #14
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I think this will be a very good idea. I've been seeing so many squids lately who think they are the best riders just because they can go fast in a straight line or they can pop their front wheels an inch above the pavement.
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Old 10-07-2008, 07:29 PM   #15
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I didn't read it all, but I'm all for mandatory helmet & MSF laws
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Old 10-08-2008, 01:45 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thermalser View Post
This entire debate comes down to one simple question: Who owns the body of any given motorcycle rider? The obvious answer is: the rider. Therefore, the only person who has the right to determine whether a rider wears a helmet while riding is himself. Those who agree with helmet laws, however, obviously believe that riders body is actually the property of the state, for only if one believes that the state owns riderís body can one conclude that the state has the right to dictate to him what risks he may or may not take with his person. Itís simply a matter of private property. Either the riders body belongs to him, in which case he can do what he wants with it, or it belongs to the state, in which case the legislature can dictate to him all kinds of things he may or may not do with it. Thereís no middle ground.
I understand and agree with you logic. But in reality, it just doesn't fly. One merely needs to take a look at our seat belt laws.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:53 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thermalser View Post
This entire debate comes down to one simple question: Who owns the body of any given motorcycle rider? The obvious answer is: the rider. Therefore, the only person who has the right to determine whether a rider wears a helmet while riding is himself. Those who agree with helmet laws, however, obviously believe that riders body is actually the property of the state, for only if one believes that the state owns riderís body can one conclude that the state has the right to dictate to him what risks he may or may not take with his person. Itís simply a matter of private property. Either the riders body belongs to him, in which case he can do what he wants with it, or it belongs to the state, in which case the legislature can dictate to him all kinds of things he may or may not do with it. Thereís no middle ground.
I'm fine with this as soon as the law passes that allows medical workers to decide if they work on someone or not based on if they have insurance. Don't use the money I put in the system for your personal property and it's all good.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:58 AM   #18
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I don't like the idea of a manditory helmet law ... people need to take that responsibility on their own. That being said ... I like the idea of your life insurance policy being made null and void if you choose not to wear a helmet and end up getting killed.
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:39 AM   #19
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The problem is that it is way too easy to get both a motorcycle AND/OR a regular drivers license. I may have a different viewpoint on this one not being from this country and looking at what I had to go through to get both. Made me both a better driver and rider.
While I like the idea of the MSF course, this can't be it. I took it in order to get my US license and it is not enough. Just because someone can ride slow around some cones in a parking lot and hit the brakes doesn't make him safe in traffic. Even more dangerous being that everybody who passed the test then can go and buy whatever bike one wants no matter what the experience level is.

When I came over here I thought it's fantastic that I only had to pay $23 for my drivers license and another $15 for the M endorsement at the DPS. Looking back I think the 1500 Euro for my drivers license and another 1500 for the motorcycle with individual instructor training on the street in traffic and immediate feedback saved my several times.

So yes better training is needed. As for helmet laws, well I'm used to a mandatory helmet law by both the country I grew up in and my own intelligence.
If somebody decides to not to wear one then it should be with ALL consequences in the event of an accident.

Just my $0.02 or 0.015 Euro

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Old 10-08-2008, 08:44 AM   #20
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Quote:
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I'd support a mandatory helmet law and MSF being mandatory to ride bikes on the street.

I don't know if I would have survived my first month without MSF.

If it fails to pass as law though, aside from a small percentage of accidents, I hate to say it but hooray darwinism.
I TOTALLY disagree with mandatory helmet. That isn't the govt business that is the riders. I have no problem with more rider training.
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