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Why are motorcycle groups strong-arming lawmakers to weaken safety standards?

August 31, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Article shows how motorcycle lobbying groups put motorcyclists in danger, cause more deaths and injuries, and cost the public and taxpayers more

When it comes to the issue of motorcycle safety (as with probably most things in America today), there  is a lot of ugly politics at play.

Exhibit A: Michigan’s repeal of its nearly 40-year-old helmet requirement in April. Gov. Snyder signed the repeal, pushed by Republican legislators.  There was pressure from the motorcycle lobby — and sadly even the liquor lobby (looking to sell more alcohol to motorcycle operators… hmmm?) — at the expense of saving the lives of people who ride motorcycles.

I came across an article by FairWarning, an online, nonprofit publication that covers public interest issues: “Despite Death Toll, Motorcycle Groups Strive to Muzzle U.S. Regulators.”

This story provides a historical overview of the politics of motorcycle safety and delves into  the truths about kept hidden by the motorcycle lobby. The biggest players being the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and State Motorcycle Rights Organizations (such as ABATE).

The article reiterates what our own attorneys have been blogging about both before and after the helmet repeal: Biker groups are actually fighting against and successfully blocking programs and regulations that could reduce the death and injury rate motorcyclists.

According to the article:

“… it might be no surprise that biker groups are upset with Washington. The twist is what they are asking lawmakers and regulators to do: Back away from promoting or enforcing requirements for safe helmets, the most effective way known to save bikers’ lives.

Fatalities from motorcycle crashes have more than doubled since the mid-1990s. The latest figures show these accidents taking about 4,500 lives a year, or one in seven U.S. traffic deaths.

Yet if the biker groups’ lobbyists and congressional allies have their way, the nation’s chief traffic cop — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA — will be thwarted in its efforts to reduce the body count. The agency would be blocked from providing any more grants to states to conduct highway stops of motorcyclists to check for safety violations such as wearing helmets that don’t meet federal standards.”

Since when does “personal freedom to ride with the wind in your hair” trump asking others to pay for your own life-time medical care after a preventable motorcycle injury?  And why do lawmakers in Michigan and across the country continue to kowtow to the motorcycle lobby – knowing damn well that more people are going to die?

– Steven Gursten is an attorney who has been helping injured motorcycle accident victims in Michigan for nearly 20 years. He has received the highest motorcycle injury settlement in the state, according to published year-end reports by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Related information:

Your rights after a Michigan motorcycle accident

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our motorcycle accident lawyers.

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