The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is recommending that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) take immediate action to address critical questions in motorcycle safety.
In particular, the NTSB wants NHTSA to concentrate on four main points, the final of which is drawing some ire from the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).
The NTSB suggests
- all states provide information to the NHTSA on the effectiveness of their motorcycle safety efforts;
- NHTSA implement an action plan for states and others to carry out those recommendations determined to be of high priority;
- the Federal Highway Administration develop guidelines for states to use to gather accurate motorcycle registrations and miles-traveled data, including information on various methods to collect such data and how these methods can be put into practice;
- and finally, that all states without helmet laws for all operators and passengers enact mandatory helmet laws for all riders, and that all state helmet laws require helmets to be FMVSS #218 compliant.
The NTSB made these recommendations during its Sept. 11 board meeting in Washington, D.C. Although the NTSB does not have the power to promulgate regulations, it has referred to its role as that of a "bully pulpit," and board members and staff can testify in state legislatures.
The safety recommendations come in the wake of the NTSB Public Forum on Motorcycle Safety, held in September 2006. The forum included participants representing motorcycle manufacturers, researchers, trauma physicians, law enforcement officials, insurance companies and motorcycle associations, including the AMA.
Those groups expressed support for a wide range of motorcycle-safety initiatives, including campaigns against alcohol impairment, increased opportunities for rider education and stricter enforcement of licensing laws.
AMA responds. The AMA says the NTSB-approved recommendations for motorcycle safety focuses on passage of mandatory helmet-use laws in all states but does not deal with other significant issues related to the safety of riders on the road.
"While we encourage all riders to voluntarily wear a DOT-certified helmet as a part of a comprehensive approach to motorcycle safety, we're disappointed that the NTSB missed this opportunity to focus on meaningful issues related to the reduction of motorcycle crashes, rather than just reducing injuries once a crash occurs," says Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations.
"We would have hoped that federal officials would have taken a more well-rounded approach of working with the community to create truly effective countermeasures to reduce crashes, rather than investing more resources in a very limited legislative agenda that has not had much success in recent years," notes Moreland.
More studies. The NTSB also suggests that the NHTSA carry out comprehensive, in-depth studies such as those documented in the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety. For more information on these studies, visit: http:// www.nhtsa.dot.gov. Click on "Traffic Safety," then "Motorcycles."
— Guido Ebert