06-25-2001

01NR21 - WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES NHTSA ADMINISTRATOR DECISION

01NR21 - WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES NHTSA ADMINISTRATOR DECISION
House Hearings on NHTSA-Ford/Firestone Issue Heighten Nomination’s Importance

--------- NOTE: SEE SAMPLE LETTERS TO CONGRESS AT THE END ---------

Washington, D.C. – This week, the White House announced its intention to nominate North Carolina trauma surgeon Jeffrey Runge to be the next Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation’s serious concerns with this nomination have long been a matter of record and a matter of action with visits paid to the White House and to Members of Congress by MRF and State Motorcyclists’ Rights Organizations (SMROs).

Meanwhile, “Wrong Turn,” the cover story of “New Yorker” magazine (June 11) continues to circulate on Capitol Hill. As discussed in our June 8 MRF RIDERS’ ALERT (#01-20), the article by Malcolm Gladwell exposes NHTSA’s “passive approach” to traffic safety and emphasis on injury reduction. It concludes: “somewhere in the logic of that approach, there was a mistake.” The timeliness of the New Yorker article is heightened not only by the NHTSA Administrator nomination but also the Congressional probe this week into the NHTSA-Ford/Firestone controversy led by U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-Louisiana), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan), Ranking member.

While MRF and State Motorcyclists’ Rights Organizations were successful in derailing the nomination of a former California Highway Patrol Commissioner as NHTSA chief who was a staunch opponent of motorcyclists’ rights, our collective effort to change the shape and culture of NHTSA must continue with even greater vigor in view of the Runge nomination. Specifically, we must redouble our efforts to educate the Congress. That education effort can begin with the U.S. Senate which will confirm the nomination in hearings later this Summer and with members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee which will reconvene on the NHTSA-Ford/Firestone controversy in 30 days.

FIRST, check the list below to see if your U.S. Representative is a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. If so, urge him or her to read “Wrong Turn,” the June 11 New Yorker Magazine cover story which raises concerns about continuing the reign of epidemiology and injury reduction as the governing principles at NHTSA. URGE YOUR CONGRESSMAN TO REVIEW THIS IMPORTANT ARTICLE BEFORE THE COMMERCE COMMITTEE RECONVENES NEXT MONTH TO RESUME HEARINGS ON THE NHTSA-FORD/FIRESTONE ISSUE. (Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or find the email address at www.house.gov.)

Republican Committee members are:
Billy Tauzin (Louisiana) (Chairman), Michael Bilirakis (Florida), Joe Barton (Texas), Fred Upton (Michigan), Cliff Stearns (Florida), Paul Gillmor (Ohio), James Greenwood (Pennsylvania), Christopher Cox (California), Nathan Deal (Georgia), Steve Largent (Oklahoma), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Ed Whitfield (Kentucky), Greg Ganske (Iowa), Charles Norwood (Georgia), Barbara Cubin (Wyoming), John Shimkus (Illinois), Heather Wilson (New Mexico), John Shadegg (Arizona), Chip Pickering (Mississippi), Vito Fossella (New York), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Tom Davis (Virginia), Ed Bryant (Tennessee), Robert Ehrlich (Maryland), Steve Buyer (Indiana), George Radanovich (California), Charles Bass (New Hampshire), Joseph Pitts (Pennsylvania), Mary Bono (California), Greg Walden (Oregon), Lee Terry (Nebraska).

Democratic Committee members are:
John Dingell (Michigan) (Ranking), Henry Waxman (California), Edward Markey (Massachusetts), Ralph Hall (Texas), Rick Boucher (Virginia), Edolphus Towns (New York), Frank Pallone, Jr., (New Jersey), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bart Gordon (Tennessee), Peter Deutsch (Florida), Bobby Rush (Illinois), Anna Eshoo (California), Bart Stupak (Michigan), Eliot Engel (New York), Tom Sawyer (Ohio), Albert Wynn (Maryland), Gene Green (Texas), Karen McCarthy (Missouri), Ted Strickland (Ohio), Diana DeGette (Colorado), Thomas Barrett (Wisconsin), Bill Luther (Minnesota), Lois Capps (California), Michael Doyle (Pennsylvania), Christopher John (Louisiana), Jane Harman (California).

SECOND, WRITE OR CALL YOUR U.S. SENATORS. (Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or go to www.senate.gov to find the e-mail addresses of your Senators.)
-Urge them to read “Wrong Turn,” the June 11 New Yorker Magazine cover story which raises concerns about continued reliance on epidemiology and injury reduction as the governing principles at NHTSA.
-Remind them that TEA-21 made “accident prevention” job one at NHTSA – ahead of injury reduction. Dr. Runge is a follower of the “injury reduction” school of thought. Tell them you want to know how the nominee will lead NHTSA to obey TEA-21 by making accident prevention job one, not injury reduction.

YOUR CALL TO YOUR U.S. SENATOR IS DOUBLY IMPORTANT IF HE OR SHE IS A MEMBER OF THE SENATE COMMERCE, SCIENCE & TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE WHICH WILL HOLD HEARINGS ON THE NHTSA ADMINISTRATOR NOMINATION SOMETIME THIS SUMMER.

Democratic Committee members are:
Ernest Hollings (South Carolina) (Chairman), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), John Rockefeller IV (West Virginia), John Kerry (Massachusetts), John Breaux (Louisiana), Byron Dorgan (North Dakota), Ron Wyden (Oregon), Max Cleland (Georgia), Barbara Boxer (California), John Edwards (North Carolina), Jean Carnahan (Missouri).

Republican Committee members are:
John McCain (Arizona) (Ranking), Ted Stevens (Alaska), Conrad Burns (Montana), Trent Lott (Mississippi), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Sam Brownback (Kansas), Gordon Smith (Oregon), Peter Fitzgerald (Illinois), John Ensign (Nevada), George Allen (Virginia).

THIRD, SHARE THIS MRF RIDERS’ ALERT WITH AT LEAST 3 OTHER RIDERS WHO SHARE YOUR CONCERNS AND WILL TAKE ACTION.

<<30>>
SAMPLE LETTERS FOR RESPONDING TO MRF RIDERS’ ALERT 01nr21
TITLEED, “WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES NHTSA ADMINISTRATOR”

For an attached file of these letter samples,
reply to and request by file name:
nr21tx.txt (Text file)
nr21rt.rtf (Rich text format)
nr21em.doc (MSWORD 6.0)

1. SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO YOUR SENATOR.

[Address to The Honorable______, United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510]

Dear Senator _____,

Recently, the White House nominated North Carolina trauma surgeon Jeffrey Runge to be the next Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

I am concerned about this nomination, because Dr. Runge has supported NHTSA’s “passive approach” to traffic safety and its emphasis on injury reduction over accident prevention. “Traffic crashes are predictable and preventable and therefore are not accidents,” Dr. Runge and other physicians wrote in September 1999. I would like to know how that belief squares with Congress, because, in TEA-21, the Congress made accident prevention NHTSA’s number one mission.

Despite TEA-21, injury reduction still dominates NHTSA. According to “Wrong Turn” -- the June 11 cover story in New Yorker Magazine -- the epidemiologists and their followers at NHTSA felt “that the best way to combat the epidemic on the highways was to shift attention from the driver to the vehicle. No other country pursued the passive strategy as vigorously, and no other country had such high expectations for its success. But America's slipping record on auto safety suggests that somewhere in the logic of that approach there was a mistake. And, if so, it necessarily changes the way we think about car crashes.” Isn’t the NHTSA-Ford-Firestone :”controversy” reason enough to begin to “change the way we think about car crashes?”

Like other motorcyclists, I am committed to safety on the road through accident prevention, such as more resources for state-run rider safety training and a national program of making motorists aware of motorcycles. Will Dr. Runge support or oppose accident prevention strategies – or will he keep attention focused away “from the driver to the vehicle?”

I urge you to read the important New Yorker Magazine article as you consider the Runge nomination. For more information, please contact me or call the Motorcycle Riders Foundation at (202) 546-0983.

Sincerely,

[Name and Address]


2. SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO YOUR CONGRESSMAN.

[Address to The Honorable______, U. S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515]

Dear Representative _____,

I appreciate the House Energy and Commerce Committee holding hearings June 19 into the NHTSA-Ford-Firestone controversy. This probe occurred at the same time the White House announcement of the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey Runge as the next Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

I am concerned that Dr. Runge will continue his support of NHTSA’s “passive approach” to traffic safety and its emphasis on injury reduction over accident prevention. “Traffic crashes are predictable and preventable and therefore are not accidents,” Dr. Runge and other physicians wrote in September 1999. I would like to know how that belief squares with Congress, because, in TEA-21, the Congress made accident prevention NHTSA’s number one mission.

According to “Wrong Turn” -- the June 11 cover story in New Yorker Magazine -- the epidemiologists and their followers at NHTSA felt “that the best way to combat the epidemic on the highways was to shift attention from the driver to the vehicle. No other country pursued the passive strategy as vigorously, and no other country had such high expectations for its success. But America's slipping record on auto safety suggests that somewhere in the logic of that approach there was a mistake. And, if so, it necessarily changes the way we think about car crashes.” Isn’t the NHTSA-Ford-Firestone “controversy” reason enough to begin to “change…the way we think about car crashes?”

As a motorcyclist, I urge you to read the important New Yorker Magazine article before the House Commerce Committee meets again later this Summer to continue its review of the NHTSA-Ford-Firestone issue. Perhaps you and the committee can help America begin to “change…the way we think about car crashes.”

For more information, please contact me or call the Motorcycle Riders Foundation at (202) 546-0983.

Sincerely,

[Name and Address]

3. SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO YOUR SENATOR.

[Address to The Honorable______, United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510]

Dear Senator _____,

RE: North Carolina trauma surgeon Jeffrey Runge nomination to be NHTSA Administrator

I am concerned that Dr. Runge will continue the in-effective “passive approach” to traffic safety as opposed to “accident prevention” which was made the number one mission for NHTSA by Congress in TEA-21.

We need to quit hiring doctors to do a traffic safety engineers job! Problems like the Ford/Firestone controversy and the “deadly air-bag issue” beg for a new leadership at NHTSA. This won’t happen with ER doctors looking for new ways to minimize injuries after the crash has happened.

Please read “WRONG TURN” (June 11 cover story in New Yorker Magazine) for a clear explanation of why new leadership at NHTSA is needed. We need a change in direction at NHTSA to correct America's slipping record on auto safety.

Like other motorcyclists, I am committed to safety on the road through accident prevention, such as more resources for state-run rider safety training and a national program of making motorists aware of motorcycles. Will Dr. Runge support or oppose accident prevention strategies – or will he keep attention focused away “from the driver to the vehicle?”

For more information, please contact me or call the Motorcycle Riders Foundation at (202) 546-0983.

Sincerely,
[Name and Address]
******************************************
POSTCARD:

[Address to The Honorable______, United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510]

Dear Senator _____,

Please oppose the nomination of Dr. Jeffrey Runge as the next Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Please read “WRONG TURN” (June 11 cover story in New Yorker Magazine) for a clear explanation of why we need a change in direction at NHTSA to correct America's slipping record on auto safety.

For more information, please contact me or call the Motorcycle Riders Foundation at (202) 546-0983.

Sincerely,

[Name and Address]


4. SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO YOUR CONGRESSMAN.

[Address to The Honorable______, U. S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515]

Dear Representative _____,

I appreciate the House Energy and Commerce Committee holding hearings June 19 into the NHTSA-Ford-Firestone controversy. This probe occurred at the same time as the White House announcement of the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey Runge as the next Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

I am concerned that Dr. Runge will continue the in-effective “passive approach” to traffic safety as opposed to “accident prevention” which was made the number one mission for NHTSA by Congress in TEA-21.

We need to quit hiring doctors to do a traffic safety engineers job! Problems like the Ford/Firestone controversy and the “deadly air-bag issue” beg for a new leadership at NHTSA. This won’t happen with ER doctors looking for new ways to minimize injuries after the crash has happened.

Please read “WRONG TURN” (June 11 cover story in New Yorker Magazine) for a clear explanation of why new leadership at NHTSA is needed. We need a change in direction at NHTSA to correct America's slipping record on auto safety.

Like other motorcyclists, I am committed to safety on the road through accident prevention, such as more resources for state-run rider safety training and a national program of making motorists aware of motorcycles. Will Dr. Runge support or oppose accident prevention strategies – or will he keep attention focused away “from the driver to the vehicle?”

For more information, please contact me or call the Motorcycle Riders Foundation at (202) 546-0983.
Sincerely,
[Name and Address]
******************************************
POSTCARD:
[Address to The Honorable______, U. S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515]

Dear Representative _____,

[Address to The Honorable______, United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510]

Dear Senator _____,

Please oppose the nomination of Dr. Jeffrey Runge as the next Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Please read “WRONG TURN” (June 11 cover story in New Yorker Magazine) for a clear explanation of why we need a change in direction at NHTSA to correct America's slipping record on auto safety.

For more information, please contact me or call the Motorcycle Riders Foundation at (202) 546-0983.
Sincerely,
[Name and Address]
- 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


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