NHTSA to produce lobbying package on helmet laws

Washington, D.C.Since the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) first reported on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) film about helmet laws, on June 20th, the MRF has obtained a copy the NHTSA contract and learned more about this project.

After reviewing the NHTSA contract, MRF vice president of government relations Wayne Curtin said, "This is the most blatant example we have seen of NHTSA's campaign to lobby state legislators on the helmet law issue."

The contract calls for the production of "a media package that includes a 12 to 15 minute video presentation and a complementary "white paper" that presents the injury prevention and economic benefits of enacting mandatory helmet laws for all riders. The package will also include a video news release and brochure each serving as an executive summary of the appropriate counterpart."

In addition, the section of the contract describing the objective of the project states: "While the primary audience will be state legislators, the information contained in the video and accompanying "white paper" can also be used by Federal, state and local safety officials, and injury prevention groups who are working to replace existing, but ineffective, helmet use laws with stronger mandatory helmet use legislation. This information will also be used to provide technical assistance in order to defeat repeal efforts of existing laws."

Curtin stated, "the reference to replacing "existing, but ineffective, helmet use laws" is targeting the 24, of the 27 freedom of choice states, that have age based laws. NHTSA maintains that age based laws are ineffective because they are unenforceable and is targeting those states in this contract."

The contract to produce this lobbying package is for $149,060.00. However, this does not reflect the total cost of the project. The $149,060.00 is only for producing 24 copies of the video and a master of the printed materials for the Government Printing Office to reproduce for the lobby effort. Additional costs will be incurred by NHTSA for reproduction and distribution of the materials in the lobby package. With thousands of state legislators to distribute this to the costs will be considerable.

"In order to stop this lobbying activity and inappropriate use of tax dollars by NHTSA, motorcyclists are going to have to create an outrage in Congress about this type of activity," stated Curtin.

According to NHTSA officials, it is NHTSA's intent to have this lobby package completed and ready for distribution prior to the 1998 legislative sessions in the states.

The MRF calls on motorcyclists to write, call or visit with their Senators and Representatives about this inappropriate activity by NHTSA. Ask them to use either the FY98 transportation appropriations bill or the ISTEA re-authorization legislation to stop distribution of this lobby package. Most Senators and Representatives will be back in their state for the next ten days for the 4th of July Congressional break. They will return to Washington on Monday, July 7th. When talking to or writing to your Senators and Representatives you can refer them to NHTSA contract number DTNH22-96-C-05128.

For more information, or a copy of the contract, contact Wayne Curtin at 202-546-0983 or wtcurtin@mrf.org.

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