Motorcycle Riders Foundation Testifies Before Congress
The US House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a historic two-day hearing March 29 and 30, 2011. The focus of the hearing was to gain valuable insight as the Committee drafts the next surface transportation reauthorization. The current legislation expired September 30, 2009 but has been on life support via a series of extensions that currently expire September 30, 2011.
The hearings called in a record 40 witnesses over the two days. The lengthy list included union representatives, mass transit, taxi drivers, truck drivers, financing experts and, of course, a motorcycle safety specialist.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) was contacted by committee staff to bring an expert motorcycle safety witness. To accommodate the request, the MRF contacted long-time MRF supporter Senator Bob Letourneau. Letourneau is a 15-year veteran of the New Hampshire legislator, who along the way chaired the New Hampshire House Transportation committee, as well as the New Hampshire Senate Transportation committee. He now serves at the New Hampshire Department of Safety as the resident Motorcycle Safety Specialist. He is also a recipient of the MRF's highest honor, the John "Farmer" Eggers award.
Senator Letourneau was the only motorcycle safety expert on the witness list. His unique qualifications made him the perfect advocate for the expansion of the 2010 motorcycle safety grants. His testimony focused on the grant program, stressed its importance to the states, and urged the committee to keep the funds as they are now and not dilute the program to be used for frivolous purposes such as promotion of personal protective equipment, which was recently suggested by David Strickland, Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Subcommittee Chair John Duncan (R-TN) was especially impressed with Senator Letourneau's testimony and personal observations concerning the validity of the New Hampshire rider education program. Letourneau cited a valuable and impressive and remarkable statistic, "Over ten years the New Hampshire rider education program has trained 23,000 students and out of the 23,000 students only 1 has been involved in a fatal crash, and we suspect that was most likely due to a medical event." Chairman Duncan was visibly in awe of the statistic.
As always, the MRF will keep you up to date on this important issue.