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Region 5




ABATE of Ohio, Inc.


Legislative News

Monthly Information for the well-informed Freedom Fighter!




Hidden Agendas, Region 5?


March 2002

Region 5 Legislative News

There’s so much going on at the state and federal levels that it’s almost overwhelming, brothers and sisters! Let me first start off with a little information about two things that our friends (?) at NHTSA have done.


The first thing is that after congress enacted the TREAD bill last year, a piece of legislation designed to improve reporting and recall protocol after the Ford/Firestone debacle, the bill was sent to NHTSA for rulemaking. Just a week prior to the end of the public comment period on the proposed rulemaking, language was found buried in the text that would have us, as motorcyclists, wearing “retro-reflective apparel” (as in REFLECTIVE ORANGE VESTS) while we ride. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly want to do that. Actually, the REAL question here is, why would they put language pertaining to motorcycle clothing in a tire recall bill?!? The answer, brothers and sisters, is that those folks are aware that we, as motorcycle rights activists, keep a watchful eye on any legislation pertaining to motorcycles. They thought that burying this kind of language in a bill that has nothing to do with motorcycles would increase their chances to get this idiotic proposal in place and on our backs before we knew what was happening! A blindside punch! How enchanting of them. We have taken some steps to try to extend the public comment period on this particular item, and if we are not successful, you can expect a full-blown letter writing campaign to our senators and representatives in Washington to get the language stricken.


The second little item of note about NHTSA’s hidden agenda is the fact that they are skewing facts for some of their reports by not including all the data. It’s just like the old computer adage: garbage in, garbage out. The recent NHTSA report highlighting the increase in motorcycle fatalities in Texas and Arkansas since the repeal of the helmet laws in those states was challenged in the USAA (an insurance company) magazine. They reported NHTSA’s figures in one of their columns, and an alert rider from Louisiana wrote to pose several questions. Those questions were: 1. Did the report include the increased number of motorcycles registered and on the road? 2. Did the figures factor in the increased number of miles ridden? 3. Was there ANY effort to determine whether a helmet could have saved any of those lives? The response is pretty amazing, and here it is:


“We reprinted statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on increases in the fatality rates of motorcyclists following the repeal of helmet laws in Texas and Arkansas. After receiving member feedback questioning these statistics, we took a closer look at the NHTSA study results and found the statistics we reported had not been adjusted for increases in registrations and miles traveled. When registrations are factored in, fatality rates in Arkansas dropped from 11.54 percent per 10,000 motorcycles in 1996 to 10.92 in 1998. In Texas, fatality rates increased from 6.99 per 10,000 motorcycles to 8.85 per 10,000. The NHTSA study does not attempt to determine whether wearing a helmet would have prevented any reported fatalities.”


Well, imagine that, brothers and sisters! A governmental agency purposely omitting data and failing to investigate cause and effect while purporting to publish a factual report! Of course, most folks, especially our leaders in the statehouses and in congress, who are bombarded with more reading material than they can handle, take the report at face value, trusting the content without a second thought. That’s how NHTSA, an agency that has never been a friend to motorcycling, and the safety-nazis get new, more intrusive laws on the books. Not so much by outright lying, but by the overt act of incomplete, inaccurate, or purposely skewed data. It’s issues like this, my brothers and sisters, that make it absolutely imperative that you continue to stay committed and involved in ABATE! Now, do the right thing, and get to your county ABATE meeting this month!


See you at the meeting,

Duke Jones

Region 5 Legislative Coordinator





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