AMA Urges DOT to Accelerate Crash Study

admin
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 motorcycles.

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 effective."