05NR21 - No Motorcycles Travel In South Dakota?

Motorcycle Riders Foundation
236 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002-4980
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
http://www.mrf.org (website)

Contact: Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice-President of Government Relations
jeff@mrf.org (e-mail)

August 12, 2005

#05NR21 - No Motorcycles Travel In South Dakota?

(Washington, DC) As most everyone in the motorcycling community knows, the state of South Dakota is currently hosting the largest motorcycle rally in the country in Sturgis. Ironically, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) has learned the State of South Dakota has reported ZERO vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for motorcycles in its annual reports to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) each year since 1997. In fact, according to information provided to the MRF by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was absolutely no motorcycle VMT reported not only for South Dakota, but also for Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania or Texas from 1997-2003.

Additionally, the following states have reported zero motorcycle VMT during one or more of the years from 1997-2003: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. NHTSA releases a report each year regarding motor vehicle traffic crash fatalities and injuries based on the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Yet, with anywhere from 13 to 31% of the states each year reporting absolutely no motorcycle VMT, this highly-publicized government report uses taxpayer dollars to compare the number of fatalities for various types of vehicles to VMT in order to determine trends and publish their findings as facts.

The MRF expressed serious concerns in April, 2005 regarding the preliminary 2004 FARS data released by NHTSA, citing a decline in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) during the same period when motorcycle registrations increased substantially. Based on those concerns, the MRF wrote a letter to NHTSA questioning the validity of the data upon which these statistics were gathered and reported. NHTSA’s response to the MRF states VMT data is actually collected by the FHWA and that, "NHTSA believes the VMT data collected by FHWA are the best data available . . . For the 1997 to 2003 period similar methods were in place to report the . . . data . . . Because of this, we believe these numbers are adequate for monitoring trends." (Both letters can be viewed at http://www.mrf.org/nhtsa.php ).

The MRF translates NHTSA’s response as follows: Both the FHWA and NHTSA know the VMT data is inaccurate, but since it is collected in what they consider to be a consistent manner, the inaccuracies are acceptable. The MRF believes that simple rules of statistical research dictate a 13-31% variance is not a consistent manner that is acceptable for monitoring trends, and the MRF will be investigating the FARS data for further inaccuracies in the weeks to come.

"One motorcycle fatality is too many, and the MRF remains concerned about any rise in the numbers," stated Karen Bolin, MRF President. "The MRF is committed to working with NHTSA and the FHWA to take appropriate measures to reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities in this country. However, the MRF feels that the federal government has an obligation to report all vehicle fatality statistics in an accurate and responsible manner, and will continue to strive toward the release of more reliable information to the general public with regard to motorcycles."


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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.

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