10-16-2003

03NR35 - MRF Publishes Initial Observations Regarding NHTSA Letter on U.N. Venture

MRF E-MAIL NEWS
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
P.O. Box 1808
Washington, DC 20013-1808
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
http://www.mrf.org (website)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tom Wyld
wyld@mrf.org (e-mail)

October 16, 2003

#03NR35 - MRF PUBLISHES INITIAL OBSERVATIONS REGARDING NHTSA LETTER ON U.N. VENTURE

The U.S. Delegate to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Working Party 1 on Road Safety (WP.1) has written a letter to Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) President Karen Bolin. The delegate, Ms. Rose McMurray, Associate Administrator with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), outlines her objections to the MRF's September 26 news release regarding NHTSA's push for United Nations acceptance of mandatory rider apparel. Mrs. McMurray's letter and the MRF's initial reaction are both posted in their entirety on the MRF website at www.mrf.org/nhtsa.php.

While the MRF is preparing a response to the delegate's letter, we make these initial observations:

1. The delegate's letter makes no reference to the July 15, 2003, U.N. document NHTSA authored which unveils a plan involving "helmet laws," including an initiative to "develop strategies that could be adopted" by all nations and purports to be the position of the U.S.

2. The delegate's letter reflects talks held in Geneva between NHTSA and the Federation of European Motorcyclist Associations (FEMA). It neither mentions nor defends the NHTSA initiative delineated in the July 15 document.

3. The delegate argues that the 1998 global harmonization agreement (WP.29) "only compels the US to consider adopting certain vehicle standards." However, in a December 2001 domestic effort involving the Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability & Documentation (TREAD) Act, the agency included language in a proposed rulemaking which sought to regulate "accessory equipment and off-vehicle equipment" such as "retroreflective motorcycle rider apparel." A global regulation involving apparel as "off-vehicle equipment" is entirely plausible.

4. The delegate's letter suggests an impenetrable border between U.N. working parties. The current U.N. debate on the ownership of the road safety issue underscores that jurisdictional matters are by no means settled and issues do cross borders. For example, after declaring road accidents a preventable disease, the U.N. World Health Organization is seeking jurisdiction over road safety as well.

5. Only now - after meeting with FEMA and hearing from concerned riders and their elected representatives - NHTSA writes, without a stated reference to its "helmet laws" interest, "The intended outcome of the work of this Group is to survey member countries, capture an inventory of other countries' motorcycle safety programs and collect successful safety programs that have resulted in fewer motorcyclists' deaths and injuries." According to FEMA, its understanding with NHTSA is that helmet issues will be considered by WP.1 only as they are relevant to European experience and concerns.

At this juncture, the MRF sees no reason to reverse its criticism of NHTSA's agenda as clearly expressed in the July 15 document, and sees every reason to remain vigilant of future agency activities in the domestic regulatory process and the world body.

As always, we welcome rider input.

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(c)All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated in 1987, is a membership-based, national motorcyclists' rights organization headquartered in Washington, DC. The first motorcyclists' rights organization to establish a full-time presence in Washington, DC, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is the only Washington voice devoted exclusively to the street rider. The MRF established MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of candidates who would champion the cause of rider safety and rider freedom.

The MRF proudly claims state motorcyclists' rights organizations and the very founders of the American riders' rights movement among its leading members. The MRF is involved in federal and state legislation and regulations, motorcycling safety education, training, and public awareness. The MRF provides members and state motorcyclists' rights organizations with direction and information, and sponsors annual regional and national educational seminars for motorcyclists' rights activists, as well as publishing a bi-monthly newsletter, THE MRF REPORTS.
- 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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