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04-23-18

MRF April 2018 Update

By Andy Kelly

The National Governors Association (NGA) has issued their latest report “State Strategies to Reduce Highway and Traffic Fatalities and Injuries” and called it “A Roadmap for States.” All the statistics in this report are from 2016 and it sadly reported there was an increase of 5.6 % in fatalities in 2016 over 2015.

Motorcycle helmets are mentioned nine times in the report as a way that will save lives. A few other suggestions made were the use of automated traffic and speed enforcement and sobriety check points that would include both alcohol and drug impairment.

Pennsylvania is mentioned in the report saying that it uses the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) process to create a coordinated, multiagency effort to sustainably reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Pennsylvania’s Departments of Transportation, Health, Education and Drug and Alcohol Programs as well as its State Police, Liquor Control Board and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission participate. These agencies are part of a safety team that approves the SHSP, oversees implementation, administers accountability, and meets quarterly to evaluate the plan. The SHSP evaluation process also includes a steering committee of over 40 stakeholders and partners. Pennsylvania’s plan targets Safety Focus Areas that have the greatest potential to reduce highway fatalities and serious injuries.

The only report I could find from the SHSP was on line and was from 2009. Motorcycles are on page 19 of the report and it listed five strategies to reduce motorcycle fatalities
1. Increase enrollment in motorcycle safety training courses
2. Support peer-to-peer training and instruction through motorcycle groups
3. Educate motorcyclists statewide about the dangers of drinking and the operating a motorcycle
4. Support specialized law enforcement training in motorcycle DUI detection and motorcycle crash investigation
5. Utilize law enforcement agencies for intensified enforcement at or in the area of motorcycle events where alcohol may be served

If you didn’t notice the last three are about impaired driving but the sad part is the there was an increase of 0.1% nationwide in alcohol fatalities.

What I personally did not like to see is the fact that the NGA puts motorcycles in the “Vulnerable Road User” classification. What I am afraid of is if motorcycles are in this classification, (the same as bicycles and pedestrians) it could lead to more rules and restrictions. The next time you ride onto an interstate highway, major road or bridge and see the sign no bicycles or pedestrians think about it.

The one thing I think is important and was brought up at the first Motorcycle Advisory Counsel (MAC) meeting was better reporting by police or accident investigation teams. The MAC said better reporting and additional information could help tremendously to find out what caused the accident and a better location (GPS) to find out if more than one accident occurred previously.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also released their report for 2016 with basically the same statistics. But, when you read the numbers you wonder how they are putting their spin on it. They reported there were 11.5 times more fatalities where helmets were not worn in states without a universal helmet law as in states with a helmet law. My question is “Where are they getting their base line statistics to say this?”

Please don’t forget about “Bikers Inside the Beltway” being held on May 15, and if you are not a member of the MRF please consider becoming a member and help fight for your freedoms in Washington D.C.

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