U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters is urging Congress to allow states to divert federal money now used for motorcycle training and awareness to instead promote the use of motorcycle helmets, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
Peters sent letters to House and Senate leaders this week asking for the change.
Ed Moreland, AMA VP for Government Relations, expressed concern that diverting federal motorcycle safety funds to promote helmet use could harm rider training courses and motorcycle awareness programs that are already underfunded in many states.
"Helmet use is certainly one part of a comprehensive approach to motorcycle safety," said Moreland. "But this step is a direct raid on funds that were appropriated by Congress to address the specific safety concerns of the motorcyclists' rights community. Furthermore, the use of motorcycle helmets is already advocated in existing motorcycle safety initiatives.
"Funding for rider-training courses is frequently under threat in cash-strapped states, and cutting the same-size pie into thinner slices is not the comprehensive, thoughtful, national motorcycle safety strategy we need."
Moreland also expressed concern that Peters' proposal could contradict sections of transportation bills passed in 1998 and 2005 that ban the use of federal motorcycle safety funds to lobby state legislatures in favor of mandatory helmet laws and could effectively reverse that ban.
The AMA strongly advocates the voluntary use of helmets by adults, along with other appropriate safety gear, and does not oppose laws requiring helmet use by minors. But the Association believes adults should be allowed to make their own decisions about when to wear a helmet.