Thursday, February 06, 2003

NHTSA Drops the Ball
According to the Motorcycle Rider's Foundation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has missed the mark with its new Motorcycle Safety Program. Read the Motorcycle News Wire story here.
NHTSA issued this new plan more than a year and a half after the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, State Motorcyclists' Rights Organizations (SMROs) and academicians leveled stiff criticism of the draft "Motorcycle Safety Improvement Plan" (McSIP) the agency had proposed in May 2001. The MRF and SMROs charged that plan ignored dangerous motorists (ie, car drivers) and placed more emphasis on safer crashing (eg, protective gear) than safer riding.

The MSP's greatest weakness lies in rider training and motorist awareness. In the summer of 2001, the MRF asked the agency to get behind the joint MRF-SMRO plan for rider safety by supporting their call for a resource injection to help rider training and motorist awareness. MRF began providing their plan to Congress nearly one year ago. Today, NHTSA's rider training program continues to fall well short of the mark.
I'm with the MRF on this one. I think that more needs to be done to acknowledge motorcycles as a valid transportation alternative in today's society. Too often motorcycles are looked down upon as purely recreational vehicles (dangerous, deadly, and troublesome ones at that). The truth is that motorcycles can be a legitimate means of daily transportation with an untold number of benefits both to the motorcyclists that ride and to our national infrastructure. Motorcycles use less gasoline, they're easier on the environment, they utilize less space on the road, and they are less harmful to infrastructure than cars are. Motorcyclist are generally more aware of their surroundings, they can arrive at their destination faster, and they're having a whole lot more fun than your average cager.

Next time you're stuck in traffic, look around you. If every vehicle around you with only one passenger in it were riding on a motorcycle, there wouldn't be a traffic jam. It's a mistake for the NHTSA to not take motorcycles seriously.

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