Atlanta, Georgia ... The Lifesavers 2000 National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities was held at the downtown Hyatt Regency March 12 - 14. Fifteen hundred concerned individuals and professionals representing all aspects of highway safety made this Lifesavers conference the largest in history. The seminar topics ranged from child restraints and school bus safety to building traffic law enforcement trust in a diverse community. Again this year, alcohol use was a dominant issue in many of the seminars. Motorcycling advocates in attendance included the MRF and the American Motorcyclist Association and ABATE members from Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
There were two specific seminars directly related to motorcycling. "Motorcycle Safety: The Future Is Now ? Partnerships, Opportunities, and Challenges" was as a panel discussion moderated by Tim Buche, President of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The panelists were Lorrie Laing of the Ohio Office of Highway Safety, Sean Maher of the American Motorcyclists Association, and Doctor Bruce Jones of the National Center for Injury Prevention - Division of Unintentional Injury. They discussed the state of motorcycling and the increasing popularity of motorcycling. The National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety and rider education were among the subjects presented along with the issue to which so many safety professions are dedicated - mandatory helmet laws. The helmet law presentation by Dr. Jones drew conclusions from a review of helmet law articles, but failed to question the assumption that the underlying research is valid and sound.
The other motorcycle seminar was titled "Meet the People Who Train and License Motorcyclists in Your State." Innovation in operating and funding motorcycle rider training and licensing issues were discussed by Chad Burns of the Georgia Highway Patrol, Mike Wright of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association, Carl Spurgeon of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and Lorrie Laing of the Ohio Office of Highway Safety. Marketing rider education and keeping the programs updated were the dominant trends in this seminar and it was well received. The sessions on aggressive driving brought out suggestions of aggressive law enforcement. Governor Roy Barnes of Georgia stated, "The best education is to lock them up." In a panel discussion on the subject, Judge Steven Smith of 361st District Court in Bryan, Texas, offered his example of utilizing the court's discretionary power to set conditions of probation. He ordered the following terms for a two year probation of a person convicted of speeding and reckless driving in addition to a fine. The person was ordered to sell his motorcycle within thirty days, and was not to ride or associate with those who do ride for the duration of his probation. Substituting any other vehicle type for the word "motorcycle" in this case makes the prejudice obvious.
Steve Zimmer, Vice President of Government Relations said, "It's important for motorcyclists' rights organizations to get involved in safety conferences so we can understand the over-all trends in highway safety and establish our rightful place in the safety community. We must also identify and work to dispel the anti-motorcycle prejudice in this area." Zimmer continued, "This year most of the motorcycle safety discussions revolved around rider education and not simply helmet laws." The next Lifesavers conference will be held in Denver, Colorado, in 2001.
For additional information contact Steve Zimmer at the MRF
office in Washington at 202-546-0983 or by e-mail: Steve@mrf.org
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