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Highway Traffic Safety Laws: Personal Freedom vs. Personal Responsibility Bob Richie, Grants Project Coordinator Governor’s Highway Safety Office Tennessee.

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Presentation on theme: "Highway Traffic Safety Laws: Personal Freedom vs. Personal Responsibility Bob Richie, Grants Project Coordinator Governor’s Highway Safety Office Tennessee."— Presentation transcript:

1 Highway Traffic Safety Laws: Personal Freedom vs. Personal Responsibility Bob Richie, Grants Project Coordinator Governor’s Highway Safety Office Tennessee Department of Transportation Anna King Project Manager NASHIA Susan Vaughn Public Policy Director NASHIA

2 History of the Motorcycle Safety Helmet Laws 1966 – Highway Safety Act establishes uniform standards for highway safety programs. Universal helmet provisions tied to federal funds. 1967 – Illinois enacts universal helmet law, but repeals it in 1969 when the State Supreme Court declares it unconstitutional. 1971 - American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) was established to promote safety and protect the rights of bikers. 1975 – 47 states + DC had universal laws. Congress repeals universal helmet requirement after three states (CA, Ill, UT) refuse to comply.

3 History of the Motorcycle Safety Helmet Laws 1980 – Only 19 states + DC had universal laws. Many states repealed only the adult provision in their laws. 1990 - Senators Moynihan and Chafee called for GAO study of helmet effectiveness. 1991- GAO report concluded that helmet use reduces fatalities and injury severity; universal laws double helmet usage. 1992 – 25 states + DC had universal laws 22 states had laws applicable to young riders 3 states had no laws

4 History of the Motorcycle Safety Helmet Laws 1994 – California enacts its first universal helmet law. Congress enacted the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act – incentive grants to states with both seat belt and universal helmet laws. 1996 – Helmet provision of the Act was repealed because little action resulted. 1997 – Arkansas became the first state in 14 years to repeal its universal helmet law. Media alerts that repeal efforts are underway in TX, PA, NC, WVA, OR, FLA, CA, KY, MI, MO, NJ, and MA 1998 – 2003 – TX, LA, KY, PA, and FLA repealed their universal helmet laws in favor of laws that cover young riders. Medical insurance/rider training compromises.

5 History of the Motorcycle Safety Helmet Laws 2004 – Louisiana reinstated its universal helmet law following significant increase in fatalities. 20 states + DC – universal helmet laws 26 states – age-related helmet laws 4 states – no laws (CO, IA, Ill, NH) Sources: (1)“Evaluation of the Repeal of Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Kentucky and Louisiana”, DOT, 2003 ( (2) Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (3) ABATE


7 The Helmet Debate Personal Freedom VS. Responsibility and Cost

8 Who are the combatants? NHTSA State and Local governments Insurance industry General consumers Responsible motorcycle riders NASHIA Public/Private Healthcare facilities ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) Motorcycle Industry (goal to sell more bikes) Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF)

9 Repeal Trends Any state with Helmet law and strong ABATE group North Carolina Tennessee Goal is to weaken if at all possible by making it optional with certain restrictions over the age of 21 in Tennessee.

10 Who is ABATE? National organization that states its goals are to educate, ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) of Indiana is a not-for-profit, safety, educational, charitable and advocacy motorcyclist organization. It's aims are to promote safety, protect rights and help others. ABATE of Indiana represents approximately 20% of the registered motorcycles in Indiana, with a membership of over 27,000. ABATE has a full-time staff, 350 volunteer officers, and over 150 certified safety instructors, dedicated to serving the interests of all motorcyclists.

11 Are they organized? Yes! - Sample of what is on Abate of Indiana’s Website. In The News... MRF Meeting of the Minds Overflows into Second Hotel MSF Pressures Idaho to Change U.S. House Names Highway Bill Conferees MRF Urges You To Make The Most of The Upcoming Congressional Recess! MRF Urges You To Make The Most of The Upcoming Congressional Recess!

12 ABATE in Tennessee Our Mission: CMT/ABATE, Inc. is not a "Biker Club", but a non-profit, political organization that was formed to preserve freedom and safety for all Tennesseans who enjoy motorcycling. Our major goals are to modify existing laws that are detrimental to motorcycle safety and enjoyment, and to enact new legislation in support of all motorcyclists who ride in Tennessee. If you are concerned about preserving personal freedom and motorcycle safety, Challenge them to importance: Public Safety or Personal freedom What is difference in helmet laws vs. seatbelt laws – nothing, both are proven safety equipment that save lives.

13 Some of the ABATE 0rganization you may be up against. Don’t be fooled by appearance.  A Tribute to our Fallen Brothers and Sisters  No matter where we may travel or who we meet in this short lifetime, it is important to remember and honor those who have gone before us. These brothers and sisters have paved the way, fought selflessly and made our lives richer for having known them. Until our next ride with them....  Scott English Father, Friend, Freedom Fighter, Volunteer Charter Legislative Officer 

14 Stated bylaws and Purpose of ABATE  Section 3: Objects and Purposes  A. The objects and purposes of the Corporation shall be to form a united motorcyclist’s organization both at the individual local level and at the state level. The Members of the Corporation shall dedicated to promoting fair motorcycle legislation and shall insure their freedom by working to prevent enactment of, or to repel/modify existing unfair motorcycle legislation. The Corporation’s Members shall promote motorcycling safety programs.  You must get them to demonstrate what they are spending on education vs. legislation  Get them to demonstrate what other legislation they are participating on to promote safety and reduce fatalities on the roads.

15 What do Legislators Hear?  From Abate:  1. Votes & Election Manpower  2. Vehicle registrations -$ Revenue  3. Freedom of choice  From NHTSA/Highway Safety/Medical  1. Deaths – loss of loved ones  2. Rising Medical and Insurance costs -$  3. Enforcement problems  4. Increase in crime/bike thefts

16 Louisiana Repeal of the Repeal Statistics showed that 2% of the vehicles on the road accounted for 10% of crash fatalities From the repeal of helmet law in ’97 to 2003, deaths tripled, helmet usage plummeted, and head injuries doubled Cost to state on healthcare costs increased from riders not keeping coverage's and insurance cancellations

17 Louisiana Motorcycle Fatalities as total of All Crashes Show the legislature the truth, Use other states data if you have a helmet law,

18 Louisiana Crash Helmet Usage Demonstrated that since repeal, helmet usage went down Increased education that Abate heralds made little impact

19 Louisiana Increasing Injury Count Since Repeal of Helmet Law

20 Louisiana Fatality Count Since Repeal Deaths tripled Additional education made little difference Wisconsin spends $1.2m yearly for grants for Motorcycle safety grants

21 Background: History of Motorcycle Helmet Laws  1966-1975: Federal Requirement  1976-1980: Sanctions Eliminated  1981-1988: Stability  1989-1994: Federal Penalties  1995-2004: Penalties eliminated

22 1981-1988: Period of Stability  Little change  1982: Louisiana re-enacted a universal helmet law  1983: Wyoming repealed its law

23 1989-1994: Sanctions Re-enacted  Gradual re-enactment of universal helmet laws  1990 GAO Study  1991: ISTEA passed Incentive grants Transfer program effective in 1995

24 1995-2004: Transfer Eliminated  1995: National Highway Designation Act repealed the ISTEA transfer provision  Efforts to amend or repeal helmet laws grew 6 States repealed their universal helmet laws  2004: 19 States and DC have universal helmet laws 28 States have laws applying to only some riders 3 States have no laws

25 Maryland Motorcyclist Killed 1987 – 2000 (Source: FARS)

26 Texas Motorcyclists Killed 1994 – 2000 (Source: FARS)

27 Observed Helmet Use in Kentucky

28 MC Fatal Crashes and Fatalities in Kentucky 1996-2002 (Source: FARS) Year Fatal Crashes Riders Killed 19951919 19962224 19972424 19982627 19993840 20003536 20015757 20024243

29 Kentucky Motorcycle Registrations and Crash Rates 1996-2000 Year MCs Registere d MC Killed per 10,000 Registered MC Injured per 10,000 Registered 199636,6036.6194.2 199738,6586.2179.8 199839,9016.8199.5 199941,9059.5222.9 200044,0038.2216.1

30 Rate of MC Riders Killed in Kentucky (per 10,000 Registered)

31 Summary  Motorcyclist fatalities increased –Over 50% in Kentucky –Over 100% in Louisiana  Fatality rates increased –Over 37% in Kentucky –Over 75% in Louisiana –(18% nationally)

32 Conclusion  Repeal of mandatory helmet use laws in Kentucky and Louisiana resulted in: –Decreased helmet use –Increased fatalities and injuries




36 Maryland Motorcyclists Represent 1% of all motor vehicles Involved in 5% of fatal motor vehicle collisions Nearly 20 times more likely to be injured or die in a motor vehicle collision than occupants of passenger cars

37 Fatalities by age group

38 Helmet Law repeals before and after Kentucky +58% Arkansas +29% Louisiana +108% Texas +37% Increase in fatalities comparing two years before and after repeal At the same time, US motorcycle fatalities increased 50%, registrations increased by 12% and miles traveled increased by 5.6% Florida +42%

39 What Can We do? 1. Know who is active 2. Know which legislators are vulnerable to the influence of ABATE 3. Develop a spokesperson on the topic 4. Inform the legislators as they take office under new terms 5. Develop a coalition of interested and concerned organizations 6. Organize, Organize, Organize

40 Thank you. Presented by Bob Richie Governor’s Highway Safety Office Nashville, TN.

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