Motorcycle Riders Foundation -- E-MAIL MRF RIDERS’ ALERT
PO BOX 1808, Washington, DC 20013-1808
202-546-0983 (voice) 202-546-0986 (fax)
wyld@mrf.org (e-mail) http://www.mrf.org (website)

May 22, 2001 #01-18 Phone: 202-546-0983


Washington, D.C. … The joint Motorcycle Riders Foundation/State Motorcyclists’ Rights Organization (SMRO) campaign to advance motorcycle safety through the 107th Congress hit full steam last week, only to suffer damage when a torpedo hit was leveled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.”

You may have missed the broadcast that millions watched, so here are the details and an urgent call to action.

On Thursday, May 17, ABATE of Colorado became the ninth SMRO to visit Washington, D.C., in concert with MRF, to advance, among other initiatives, a meaningful, no-strings resource injection to help eradicate the waiting period for safety training for all riders. The motorcycle safety component of the joint MRF-SMRO agenda calls also for the first-ever national campaign of Motorist Awareness of Motorcycles to wake up clueless motorists who continue to be at fault for most serious accidents involving cars and bikes.

Colorado’s intervention on Capitol Hill came at a pivotal time and brought the total to nearly 100 Members of Congress who’ve heard our pro-safety/pro-freedom message.

Thursday evening, as your brothers and sisters returned to Colorado after a job well done, NHTSA and NBC News launched an agenda of their own: mandatory training and, of course, a bid for more and more research.

Not content with lobbying state legislatures to restrict motorcyclists’ freedom, NHTSA came to the aid of NBC News last week to point out that there has been an increase in fatalities among older riders. Armed with what NHTSA later confessed to an MRF member as “a power point presentation” based on “raw data,” NBC News took aim at all motorcyclists and wrote a prescription for disaster: mandatory training for older riders and a scare campaign aimed at large motorcycles.

A news organization that has never seen a regulation it didn’t like (absent First Amendment restrictions), NBC pointed with concern to only two states that mandated training for “older” riders. “Thousands of injured and dead riders,” the network broadcast to millions. “Is it worth the ride?”

To which MRF responds: --- “Millions of misinformed Americans. Is it worth the airtime?”

“Mandatory training of motorcyclists -- particularly of riders of certain age groups -- is a solution in search of a problem,” observed MRF President Tom Pauley. “When it comes to rider training, there is overwhelming demand, insufficient supply and absolutely no need for any mandate. In state after state, riders must wait upwards of ten months to a year for the life-saving training they demand. Meanwhile, SMROs are still pushing for laws as rudimentary as protecting rider training funds from the raids they’ve sustained by other elements of state government. That’s the story NBC News should have targeted.”

“The solution is simple,” said Tom Wyld, MRF’s Vice-President of Government Relations: “a no-strings resource injection to states to kill the deadly waiting period, bolster rider training, and establish, for the first time ever, a national program of Motorist Awareness of Motorcycles. Think of the people we could save, because if the motorist can’t or won’t see a motorcyclist, they won’t see the bicyclist, the woman in a wheel chair or the child crossing the street.”

And how did NBC balance the May 17th piece against the call for new mandates? By talking to dealers and riders who speak only for themselves and rely on best guess and anecdote. Had NBC bothered to talk to national advocates of motorcyclists’ rights and safety, the network would have learned the truth:
As the average age of any road users increase -- or, for that matter, decreases -- the incidence of all behaviors will increase or decrease accordingly. If average age goes up, so will fatalities and injuries -- and the incidence of trouble-free riding as well.
As noted in letters to various media outlets by Kathy Gill, a certified (by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation) instructor with the Evergreen Safety Council in Washington state, “fatalities and accidents are not increasing at the same rate as ownership, suggesting that riders are practicing defensive riding skills [and that] courses like the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s new and experienced rider courses are well worth the time and money.”
In states like Arkansas and Texas, which modified their mandatory helmet laws to allow rider choice with some restrictions, motorcyclist fatalities went down as a function of the number of motorcycles registered before and after the laws took effect.
The constant danger is motorists, not motorcyclists. In 6 out of 10 two-vehicle crashes, it is the car driver’s fault. Not the size of the motorcycle. Not the age of the rider. And, evidently, not a matter of interest for NBC, if not NHTSA itself.
In virtually every state, motorists who injure or kill motorcyclists because they happen not to see us will get little more than a fine.
In all but one state, motorists who injure or kill motorcyclists because they happen not to see us will get little more than a fine. In Washington, motorists will now be subject to various felony charges, thanks to the WA. Roadriders Association, who worked with a coalition of interests, to ensure passage of a "Vehicular Assault" law; signed by the Governor on May 14th of this year.

The call to action:


1. Write to your Congressman and U.S. Senators and object to NHTSA lobbying the media about the dangers of motorcycling with “raw data.” You can find email addresses for your Members of Congress by entering http://thomas.loc.gov/ on your browser. You can also telephone your Congressman and Senators by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Phone calls are preferred.
2. Explain to your Senators and Congressman that the key to safety is the joint MRF/SMRO agenda: a resource injection to the states to satisfy the overwhelming need for voluntary training of motorcyclists -- and the training of car and truck drivers with the first-ever national program of Motorist Awareness of Motorcycles.
3. Pick up the TELEPHONE and CALL the STATION MANAGER of your LOCAL NBC TELEVISION AFFILIATE. You can find the number of your local NBC affiliate under “television stations” in your local Yellow Pages:
A. Emphasize the miles you put on your motorcycle.
B. Emphasize the years you’ve worked for motorcyclists’ safety.
C. Tell the station manager that you, your SMRO, and the MRF are working hard to advance the safety of motorcyclists and all road users, and YOU don’t appreciate YOUR station airing the biased May 17th news report from “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw” that sets back our agenda of safety on the road.
D. Ask your local NBC affiliate how they will respond to correct the error from NBC News headquarters in New York and ask how they will help you in the local community and on Capitol Hill to advance road safety for all road users. Tell them you are not interested in calling NBC headquarters: you are interested in what they will do to correct the network feed.
4. As always, pass this MRF RIDERS’ ALERT along to at least 3 other riders who value our safety on the road.
- MRF: My Ride is Freedom -

The first motorcyclists' rights organization to establish a full-time legislative advocacy presence in Washington. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation is the only Washington voice devoted exclusively to the street rider. MRF established MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of candidates who would champion the cause of rider safety and rider freedom. MRF proudly claims state motorcyclists' rights organizations and the very founders of the American rider rights movement among its leading members. Motorcyclists worldwide can thumb-start their search for rider rights and safety on the web at www.mrf.org.

All information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated in 1987, is an independent, membership-based national motorcyclists' rights organization headquartered in Washington D.C. which operates in co-partnership with State Motorcyclists' Rights Organizations nationwide. The MRF is involved in federal and state legislation and regulation, motorcycling safety education, training, licensing and public awareness. The MRF provides individual and SMRO member-volunteers with guidance, support and information to protect motorcyclists' rights and advance motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. The MRF sponsors annual regional and national educational seminars for motorcyclists' rights activists and publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, THE MRF REPORTS.

Voice: 202-546-0983, Fax: 202-546-0986, E-Mail: wyld@mrf.org, website: http://www.mrf.org

NEWS RELEASES & RIDER ALERTS   Current issues   News archive   Position papers
EVENTS & CONFERENCES   Posters   Registration   Video highlights
MRF REPORTS   Current reports   Report archive
REPS PAGE   State Reps   About the Reps/Program
ABOUT THE MRF   Mission   Core Values   MRF DC Office   Officers/Directors   Legislative Agenda
SUPPORTERS   Organizations   Members   MRF PAC   Join the MRF  
LINKS   MRF's favorite links   Research sites

Top of Page