NAMS: Brilliant Product, Bewildering Priorities

Long Beach, California -- Calling it an agenda that springs from "a world view with a U.S. focus," Rosalyn Millman, Deputy Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helped Motorcycle Safety Foundation President Tim Buche introduce "NAMS" -- the long-awaited National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety -- at the Long Beach Convention Center on December 8th.

A collaborative effort spearheaded by NHTSA and MSF, NAMS is the work product of an exhaustive, two-year review by a technical working group comprising 10 experts from motorcyclists' rights, the motorcycle press, manufacturers, insurers and the law enforcement, health care and motorcycle safety training communities. The herculean task of editing the agenda fell to Art Friedman, "American Cruiser" editor, who was ably assisted by Mr. Buche and an energetic MSF staff and equally vigorous NHTSA staffers, particularly life-long motorcyclists Joey Syner and Rae Tyson.

The safety-committed major makers and motorcyclists' rights organizations, however, far outnumbered moto-journalists at the press conference, surprising given the launch of a document of such significance to the motorcycling community. Aside from a strong contingent from EMAP-Petersen and Motorcycle Product News, MRF REPORTS, Motorcycle Consumer News, AMA's American Motorcyclist, NCOM, California's "Friction Zone," www.partsmag.com, Motorcycle Industry Magazine and ABATE of California, the motorcycle press was conspicuous by its absence.

In short, NAMS is impressive. In many ways, key elements of the agenda read like the legislative agenda of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation: bolstering rider safety training, launching an effective national program to enhance motorist awareness of motorcycles, pushing rider-friendly crash barriers, etc. Motorcyclists' rights advocates will find NAMS a useful tool to keep at their fingertips when persuading federal and state lawmakers to help them advance these and other safety enhancements.

The working group and organizational sponsors should be commended for steering well clear of a mandate for helmets. The agenda explained, "[T]o maintain harmony between the groups interested in motorcycle safety, the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety has consciously refrained from making any legislative recommendations, including any regarding mandatory helmet-use laws."

Yet, the most puzzling aspect of NAMS is the priority placed on further study. In essence, more study and more research number among the agenda's four "urgent" recommendations, no doubt a sign of the influence of TWG member David Thom. Senior Program Manager for the Head Protection Research Laboratory and a life-long rider, Thom was recruited by Professor Harry Hurt to serve on the research team that produced The Hurt Report of 1981.

The four urgent priorities are:

The NAMS prioritization matrix -- "urgent" for action items considered most important by the technical working group, followed by "essential" then "necessary" -- may or may not impact the action priority assigned by rights organizations, legislatures and government agencies.

"Take action on those parts of [NAMS] you support," Ms. Millman said. Ms. Millman used the press conference to announce that NHTSA will fund the studies called for in NAMS. When asked by MRF whether the agency would keep the study process open -- assuring, for example, that underlying data sets would be available for peer review -- she responded affirmatively.

The MRF and our partners -- State Motorcyclists' Rights Organizations -- will pursue our priority of advancing motorcycle safety through strategies already working to save lives. With distractions such as make-up, eating meals, reading, and cell phone-use while driving, too many motorists seem unaware to the point of unconsciousness. Through a variety of methods, from law enforcement to public communication, we will endeavor to wake them up.

Rider training is also an MRF "urgent" priority. Throughout the nation, rider safety instructors struggle with daunting coach recruitment and retention problems in furnishing their life-saving programs in a marketplace where demand far exceeds supply. At this writing, motorcyclists' rights advocates in Washington, Arizona and other states are still advancing legislation as basic as rider training.

And, with respect to road hazards, the knowledge is already in hand. We must kill tar snakes and re-make crash barriers that couldn't be more deadly to motorcyclists if they were designed with that grim purpose in mind.

In these and other priorities, NAMS helps MRF and SMROs make our case to lawmakers, and for that, we are grateful to the technical working group and its sponsors.

- MRF: My Ride is Freedom -

For further information contact Tom Wyld at 202-546-0983 or by e-mail at wyld@mrf.org

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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 head quartered 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 regulations, 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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