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01-19-10

American Motorcyclist Association urges caution in the adoption of high-tech devices in motor vehicles

Open letter to U.S. transportation secretary stresses rider safety

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- In a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood dated Jan. 8, American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Vice President for Government Relations Ed Moreland urged caution regarding the adoption of "infotainment systems" being developed for motor vehicles.

Moreland's letter praised LaHood for his measured comments in Jan. 7 New York Times article regarding infotainment systems. In the article, LaHood said such high-tech electronics placed in motor vehicles will inevitably increase distracted driving and add to the ever-increasing number of accidents and fatalities attributable to distracted driving.

The systems under development include Internet-connected computers, some with 10-inch screens, that allow drivers to watch videos and surf the web. Although the devices are being engineered so that advanced functions can't be used while the car is in motion, the AMA is concerned that the potential to distract drivers from the primary task of vehicle operation is substantial.

"The AMA supports your agency's efforts to curtail distracted driving, and agrees with you that these new 'infotainment systems' are a step in the wrong direction toward achieving safer highways for all users, especially motorcyclists," Moreland wrote.

Moreland's letter offered Secy. LaHood the AMA's assistance in the development of strategies to oversee how high-tech electronics in cars and SUVs affects the crucial issue of distracted driving and impacts the safety of motorcyclists.

"I would like to offer the AMA as a resource to be included whenever emerging technologies are discussed, so that we may better help you take into account the presence of motorcyclists on our nation's roads and highways.

"Driver, rider and pedestrian safety should never be compromised in the effort to introduce yet another technology distraction to an already overly distracting automobile cockpit," Moreland wrote.

The offer of help is just the latest in the AMA's efforts related to distracted and inattentive driving. In 2008, the AMA adopted a position statement that endorses enhanced penalties for those who injure or kill others while operating a motor vehicle when distracted or inattentive operation is involved.

To read the AMA's position statement on distracted and inattentive driving, please go to AmericanMotorcyclist.com/legisltn/positions/distracted.asp.

About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world's largest motorcycling rights organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists' interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations.

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