AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman called for the U.S. Department of Transportation to accelerate a long-overdue federal study into the causes of motorcycle crashes in an Oct. 3 meeting with the agency's head, Secretary Mary Peters. Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) David Kelly, and AMA VP of Government Relations Ed Moreland also attended the meeting.
"There are an estimated 10 million motorcyclists on the road today, more
than at any time in America's history," said Dingman, who heads the nation's
300,000-member non-profit association. "As a direct result of this growth
and increased usage, we are experiencing more crashes, injuries and
fatalities. Our meeting with Secretary Peters a motorcyclist herself was
cordial yet frank. We believe she understands the sense of urgency to get
this crash research underway."
According to NHTSA statistics released by Peter's office in September, the
number of motorcycle riders or passengers killed on U.S. roads in 2007
increased 6.6 percent over 2006, while the overall number of traffic
fatalities fell to the lowest number since 1994.
"Some time ago, Congress and the motorcycling community committed the
necessary funds for this study," said Dingman. "For too long, NHTSA has
simply focused on a strategy of advocating mandatory helmet use, while doing
little to prevent crashes from occurring in the first place. With a new
administration set to take office on January 20, we can't afford any more
delays while motorcycle crashes, injuries and fatalities continue to mount.
The time to begin the study is now."
Dingman stressed that while the AMA strongly supports voluntary helmet use
as one element of a comprehensive approach to motorcycle safety, a higher
priority must be given by NHTSA to crash prevention, which must include
greater emphasis on motorist awareness programs to educate road users about
The crash study is being undertaken by the Oklahoma Transportation Center,
an independent and well-respected research facility at Oklahoma State
University in Stillwater. The last major motorcycle crash study was
completed in 1980, and it provided a wealth of data that has been used to
develop training and strategies to help keep riders safer on the road. In
the decades since, the traffic environment has changed enormously, prompting
the AMA to begin campaigning for a new study several years ago.
"The idea behind the motorcycle crash causation study is to help us
understand the causes of crashes so that effective countermeasures can be
developed," said Dingman. "Absent this study, countermeasures will continue
to be developed in a vacuum, with no way to know which measures will be