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We, the people of the State of Florida, being grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, in order to secure its benefits, perfect our government, insure domestic tranquility, maintain public order, and guarantee equal civil and political rights to all, do ordain and establish this constitution.

Helmet Use Is NOT the Problem in Florida

Deland, Florida November 18, 2010 – Motorcyclists have finally made the Ten Most Wanted list. Not by the FBI, but by the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB is now calling for all states to adopt a mandatory helmet law, even though all current data suggests that the wearing of a helmet is NOT as major a determining statistic on saving motorcyclists’ lives as once thought.

In 2000, ABATE of Florida, Inc. successfully lobbied to have the mandatory helmet law in Florida repealed. Although many have publicly cried out saying that motorcycle deaths have been on the rise ever since the helmet repeal, the government’s own statistics simply do not support this claim.

According to Florida’s Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles’ report Traffic Safety Facts, October 2010: Motorcycles, since 2000 motorcycle registrations have risen by over 102%. With two exceptions, each year since then motorcycle registrations and related fatalities have been on the increase, but within 1% of each other when compared side-by-side. Although any death is never good news, statistically speaking this can be read to mean that the rise in the reported fatalities may be attributed to the rise in motorcycle registrations. One of the reported exceptions is the year 2009, where motorcycle registrations increased 102.4% since 2001, but fatalities only increased 63.4% in the same time frame. That same year, motorcycle fatalities were down 16% nationwide and over 25% in Florida since the previous year. In addition, the Florida DHSMV’s Traffic Crash Statistics Report 2009 reported that in 2009, over 53% of all motorcyclists killed were wearing a helmet.

With the above facts, there is no logic for a push to require helmet use. The ten-year rise in deaths can be directly attributed to the rise in motorcycle registrations. Since 2004, the State of Florida has reported that the majority of motorcycle drivers and passengers in fatal crashes have been wearing the optional safety helmet. Although motorcycle helmets may offer limited defensive measures when involved in a head-trauma accident, these numbers strongly suggest that a helmet is not the magic safety device many want them to be.

ABATE of Florida, Inc. asks Legislators to consider this fact: in Florida 61% of the motor vehicle vs. motorcycle collisions were the fault of the motor vehicle. The most common reason given by the vehicle driver was that they never saw the motorcycle. Texting while driving, hands on the cell phone instead of the steering wheel, and almost insignificant punishments when hitting a motorcyclist are all the real reasons why motorcyclists in Florida are being killed.

Florida now requires a motorcycle training program to receive a motorcycle endorsement on a driver’s license. The motorcyclists are being trained to ride safely and defensively. Helmets will not save more motorcyclists; educating the motoring public about the presence of bikes on the road and stronger motivations to drive a car or truck safely and legally should be the direction state and federal congresses take. The numbers are clear; most motorcyclists are doing their part. It’s now time for the rest of the motoring public to do theirs.

David “Lockdown” Rich
Public Relations Trustee, ABATE of Florida, Inc.

386.490.4821 FAX: 396.490.4482

Federal helmet law a possibility
Contact your Senators now!

On September 28, 2010, Administrator David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) called for efforts to “actively work with Congress to promote helmet use.” Strickland made this comment at a Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance hearing titled “NHTSA Oversight: An Examination of the Highway Safety Provisions of SAFETEA-LU” of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Strickland's comment was part of his overall testimony regarding how safety provisions within the transportation reauthorization bill (SAFETEA-LU) played a role in reducing highway fatalities.

Strickland stated the following regarding motorcycle fatalities:

“However, you will notice that there is one indicator that is moving in the wrong direction, motorcycle fatalities. Between 2004 and 2009, the number of motorcycle riders killed increased from just over 4,200 to almost 4,462, an 11 percent increase. The number of motorcycle fatalities did fall between 2008 and 2009, the first time we have seen a decrease in more than a decade. We need to work to build on last year’s progress. The most important step we could take would be to assure that all riders wear a DOT-compliant helmet, which are 37 percent effective in reducing fatalities. We estimate that helmets prevented over 1,800 fatalities in 2008, and that more than 800 additional fatalities could have been avoided if all riders wore helmets. NHTSA will actively work with Congress to promote helmet use.”

To view Strickland’s complete testimony, go to. http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/legisltn/documents/Strickland_Testimony_Senate_Commerce-9-28-2010.pdf

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is concerned that Strickland may be recommending the re-institution of a federal helmet mandate. If a helmet mandate is passed into law, it would penalize any state without a mandatory motorcycle helmet law for all riders by denying federal transportation and safety dollars to that state. The AMA supports states' rights to determine their respective helmet policy free from the threat of federal sanctions. Congress affirmed this right as recently as 1995 in the National Highway System Act when they removed federal penalties placed on states without mandatory helmet laws.

The best way for NHTSA to reduce motorcycle crashes is to employ proven strategies, such as rider education and motorcycle awareness programs, that decrease the likelihood of crashes from ever occurring. These strategies must be research-based, and motorcyclists would be much better served by applying the funding to the national motorcycle crash causation study that is currently underway at Oklahoma State University. This is a sentiment supported by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and many of his colleagues in Congress through recently introduced H. Res. 1498.

The AMA encourages you to contact your Senators and urge them to prevent the NHTSA from solely focusing on federal helmet mandate legislation but to employ proven strategies to reduce motorcycle crashes from occurring in the first place.

To view an archived webcast of Strickland's comments at the hearing, go to. http://commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=e22e0dc3-be96-4508-8b95-c0f71901285d&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=b06c39af-e033-4cba-9221-de668ca1978a

Please write or call your Senators today and urge NHTSA to employ proven strategies, such as rider education and motorcycle awareness programs, that will be better served for motorcyclists.

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****Coming Soon****

Motorcycle Related Bills
Filed for the 2011 Session