MSF Helmet Law Propaganda Shows Up In State Senate Hearing

Jefferson City, Mo. … On January 18, 2000, the Missouri Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony on SB 610, a helmet law modification bill. Dale Finley of the Missouri Safety Council submitted testimony on behalf of the Missouri Advocates for Traffic Safety. Mr. Finley's submission consisted of a cover letter quoting discredited claims of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and 12 photo-copied pages from the Winter 1998 issue of Safe Cycling, the official publication of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).

Motorcyclists' rights activists may recall their angry reaction when this issue of Safe Cycling was published just over a year ago (see MRF News Release #99-04 of Feb. 4, 1999). The information presented by Mr. Finley included columns written by Julie Filatoff and MSF President Tim Buche promoting mandatory helmet laws and MSF's endorsement of discredited research studies supporting the debunked social burden theory.

In 1999, activists from many state motorcyclists' rights organizations joined the MRF and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) in voicing displeasure over the biased reporting used by MSF in the Winter 1998 issue. MSF was also reminded that the erroneous material included in the Winter 1998 issue would likely be used in state legislatures to promote mandatory helmet laws. In response, MSF published an article written by former AMA President, Ed Youngblood, in its next issue of Safe Cycling wherein Mr. Youngblood refuted many of the claims made in the Winter 1998 issue. MSF continues to claim that it is not a political organization and does not endorse helmet laws.

The MRF reminded the MSF last year that they should stick to what they do best --- developing and providing curriculum for rider safety training. Commenting on the inclusion of the MSF material in testimony given to the Missouri legislature, MRF President Mark Buckner said, "Our concerns have now become a reality. This is yet another reminder that MSF should honor its stated position and stay out of politics." Buckner went on to say, "MSF can best serve motorcycling by striving to work with, rather than against, motorcyclists' rights activists. A public statement from MSF clarifying the politically biased nature of the material included in the Winter 1998 issue would go a long way toward accomplishing that end." Steve Zimmer, MRF Vice-President of Government Relations will meet with Mr. Buche this week to express MRF's concerns.

Despite the inclusion of the MSF material in testimony, Freedom of Road Riders (FORR Missouri) anticipates a favorable vote from this committee. Last year, legislation identical to SB 610 passed through this same committee receiving only one no vote. Even thought SB 610 is expected to pass Freedom of Road Riders will continue to lobby hard for the passage of this legislation. More of this type of misinformation is expected to surface as this bill proceeds through the system. If signed into law, SB 610 would modify Missouri's existing helmet law so that riders over 21 would have a choice concerning helmet use.

Interested parties may contact the MSF at the following:
Website: http://www.msf-usa.org
President: Tim Buche, E-Mail: tbuche@msf-usa.org, 949-727-3227 x3028
Editorial Director: Elisabeth Piper, E-Mail: epiper@msf-usa.org, Phone: 949-727-3227 x3077
Phone: 949-727-3227 Fax: 949-727-4217
Mailing Address:
Motorcycle Safety Foundation
2 Jenner St. Ste 150
Irvine, CA 92618-3806

For further information contact Steve at 202-546-0983 or by e-mail at <mrf-news@mrf.org>


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