Irvine, California The Technical Working Group (TWG) met at the headquarters of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) on September 10, 1999. Last year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) invited the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) to join them in the development of a National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety. Nine individuals with various safety and motorcycle related experience were selected for the Technical Working Group (TWG). This group was charged with the task of developing the initial draft for a national safety agenda for motorcyclists. Steve Zimmer, Vice-President of Government Relations of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) and Rob Rasor of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) represent motorcycle users on the TWG.
In an earlier meeting the TWG decided to concentrate on two-wheel vehicles, excluding three-wheel & sidecar-equipped vehicles. The MRF concluded that the "three-wheel" segment of the motorcycle community must not be ignored. Zimmer went into the TWG meeting determined to get this decision reversed. He pushed for inclusive language on the sidecar/three wheel issue. He was completely successful and the group concluded that "third-wheel vehicles" should be included in the vehicle design element and the vehicle modification section of the agenda. Zimmer stated, "The reversal on the 'third-wheel' issue should alleviate the fears of some that sidecars and three-wheelers are being ignored to their extinction." Sidecar training advocate, David Hough, was elated with the change saying, "The MRF looks out for all motorcyclists --- they know who their customers are!"
Another issue on which the MRF sought change was language in the draft document regarding helmets. This change was also adopted by the TWG. The language on helmet issues has now been revised to recognize the legitimacy of the opinions of motorcyclists who prefer not to use helmets. This helmet issue involves getting safety advocates to accept the fact that the safety margin gained by helmet use is not necessarily sufficient for everyone to dismiss the choice to not use helmets. This is a major step in removing the prejudice and emotion so common to the helmet issue and, hopefully, signals a trend toward more open minds in motorcycle safety discussions.
The MRF also raised a new issue at this meeting. The MRF's experience in examining statistical studies has made it clear that the need for accurate information gathered from data collection systems involving accident reports is critical for developing an effective plan for motorcycle safety. Not having a uniform data reporting process makes getting a true picture of accident statistics nearly impossible . This issue was readily accepted by the group for inclusion in the agenda.
The final step for the TWG is to hold a Blue Ribbon Conference where input from the public will be considered and integrated into the final draft document. The Blue Ribbon Conference is scheduled for November 12-13, 1999 in Phoenix, AZ. Interested parties wishing to attend the conference should contact Joey Syner at NHTSA by the end of October in order to receive a copy of the current draft for review and be prepared to bring recommendations to the conference. Mr. Syner can be reached by phone at 202-366-1770, fax at 202-366-7721, or by email at email@example.com.
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