NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
RIDER TRAINING TRUMPS RIDING EXPERIENCE
A new study utilizing a motorcycle simulator has found that formal advanced training is better than the school of Hard Knocks regarding how a rider reacts to emergency situations on the road.
A Triumph mounted on a custom rig designed and built at the University Nottingham’s Centre for Motorcycle Ergonomics & Rider Human Factors in England was used to investigate the attitudes, behaviors and skills of different types of riders according to their level of experience and training, with simulation software projecting different riding scenarios onto a large screen in front of the rider.
Three groups; novice, experienced and those who had taken advanced motorcycle training, were put through identical scenarios on the simulator as well as other tasks in the laboratory to test aspects of their hazard perception and behavior.
The researchers discovered that experience on its own does not necessarily make riders safer on the road, while those riders who had taken advanced motorcycle safety training used better road positioning to anticipate and respond to hazards, kept to urban speed limits, and actually made better progress through bends than the other groups of novice and experienced bikers.
“This is one of the most in-depth studies of its kind ever conducted,” said Dr. Alex Stedmon from the Human Factors Research Group. “Whilst experience seems to help develop rider skills to an extent, advanced training appears to develop deeper levels of awareness, perception and responsibility,” Stedmon noted. “It also appears to make riders better urban riders and quicker, smoother and safer riders in rural settings.”
NHTSA STILL PUSHING MOTORCYCLE-ONLY CHECKPOINTS NATIONWIDE
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ignored congressional requests to halt or delay a plan to implement and fund motorcycle-only checkpoints nationwide.
The first federally-funded checkpoints, dubbed “roadside motorcycle safety checkpoints,” will be launched by the Georgia Department of Public Safety, via a NHTSA grant to the Georgia State Patrol. NHTSA has implemented the checkpoint funding plan despite being asked by members of Congress not to fund the program until the merits were explained.
NHTSA has requested applications from law enforcement agencies across the country to conduct “safety checks” that specifically target motorcyclists to pull aside for a lengthy inspection of their vehicle, equipment and paperwork.
The New York State Police have been conducting motorcycle-only checkpoints since 2007, often targeting major motorcycle events such as Americade. Seeking a legal remedy to stop the constitutionally questionable roadblocks, Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney Mitchell Proner of NYC has filed a class action lawsuit against the NYSP and New York State on behalf of ABATE of New York and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM).
Proner believes the Federal Court will agree that the stops are designed primarily for law enforcement purposes as opposed to public safety purposes. “Rather than promoting any legitimate public safety concern, the checkpoints are intended to harass and intimidate motorcyclists attempting to attend motorcycle events thereby depriving them of their First Amendment right to freedom of assembly as well as their Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process, equal protection and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.”
NTSB CALLS FOR STATES TO REQUIRE HELMETS
The National Transportation Safety Board stated on Tuesday, November 19, that all states should require riders to wear federally approved helmets.
Christopher A. Hart, the NTSB’s vice chairman, called motorcycle accidents ”a public health issue." and said that helmet laws have been added for the first time to the NTSB’s “Most Wanted List” of safety improvement priorities. The list is considered a powerful tool by which the NTSB forces legislative change.
But highway safety laws are largely left up to the states, which have been increasingly resistant to many federal recommendations, and the transportation agency’s appeal comes at a time when motorcycle deaths have actually been on the decrease since 2009.
This is not the first time there has been federal pressure exerted on states to pass helmet laws. In the late 1960s, Congress threatened to withhold highway funding for states failing to adopt universal helmet laws, and within a few years almost every state had a helmet mandate.
But by the late 1970s, political resistance and pressure from motorcycle groups convinced Congress to break the link between motorcycle laws and federal highway funds, and over half the states repealed their helmet laws.
In 1991, Congress decided to try again, offering safety grants to states that enforced helmet and seatbelt laws. States that didn’t enforce such laws had three percent of their federal highway money redirected to their highway safety programs. Still, only two states re-instituted helmet laws and by 1995 the federal effort was again overturned and five more states soon repealed their helmet laws.
Today, only 20 states require all riders to wear helmets, and last year more state legislatures considered laws to repeal helmet laws than to enact them.
Forcing states to implement safety regulations is not territory the safety board wants to enter, according to Steve Blackistone, NTSB’s state and local government relations specialist, who said “We are not prescriptive; we cannot mandate implementation.”
But on the same day as the NTSB proclamation, the insurance industry advocacy group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety called upon Congress to observe the NTSB recommendation and “enact federal legislation that would result in all states adopting all-rider helmet use laws.”
NEW JERSEY ESTABLISHES STRINGENT GUIDELINES FOR NEW RIDERS
A measure sponsored by Senator Nicholas J. Sacco, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, which would establish safety guidelines for new motorcycle riders in the Garden State was approved by the Assembly recently by a vote of 67-7.
The bill, S-736, would enact several motorcycle safety regulations, including a tiered licensing provision. Under the bill, if a person is issued a motorcycle license for a vehicle with a smaller-size engine -- less than 231 cubic centimeters -- they would be legally prohibited from operating a motorcycle with an engine displacement of more than 500 cc. Senator Sacco said that this provision would ensure that new motorcycle riders are restricted from operating vehicles with engines that are too powerful for that driver’s skill level.
Among other provisions, the bill would also require all applicants under the age of 18 to complete a motorcycle safety program as a condition for licensure or endorsement.
The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 31-3 on August 23, but must be returned to consider Assembly amendments which were largely technical in nature. If approved in the Senate, it would head to the Governor to be signed into law.
MOTORCYCLE SALES DOWN, RIDERSHIP UP
Motorcycle sales continue to be hard hit, despite the declared end to the recession, but according to the Motorcycle Industry Council there are other indicators that point to a brighter future for the two-wheel industry.
Although year-to-date market data reveals an 18.3% drop in new unit sales, tire sales are up 6.6% in 2010 versus 2009, indicating motorcyclists are still enthusiastic about the sport and riding.
In addition, motorcycle miles travelled increased by “approximately 5% last year, some 1.3 billion more miles than in 2008,” according to the MIC’s 2009 Motorcycle Owner Survey.
"In many ways, we are better poised for a comeback than ever," said Ty van Hooydonk, communications director for the council.
CHINA BECOMES THE WORLD’S LARGEST MOTORCYCLE PRODUCER
China has now overtaken Japan as the largest producer of motorcycles in the world. Yearly, 50 million motorcycles are produced worldwide, and China now produces at least 27.5 million of that figure or a little more than 50% of the total world production. China has already taken over the top spot in world automobile production by producing more cars than Japan and the U.S. combined.
Interestingly, some historic American companies like Harley-Davidson are moving ahead for plans to produce motorcycles in China, but whether they will be exported to the U.S. or simply sold in this Asian market is not quite known yet.
The city of Chongqing has become China’s motorcycle production center, with more than 10 million motorcycles a year coming out of this modern city alone. In fact, four of five of the largest Chinese motorcycle brands that produce over 1 million units a year come out of this city. China has more than 130 motorcycle brands.
Expect to see more powerful and modern motorcycles coming from China as this nation seeks to become the largest and most powerful economy in the world.
OLDER BIKERS HAVE MORE SEX
“Older single bikers are putting down more miles than their married counterparts, if you know what we mean,” reported www.clutchandchrome.com
about a recently released AARP sex survey. Although the study wasn’t specifically aimed at motorcycle enthusiasts, with a large part of riding demographics firmly in the age bracket surveyed, the study can make riders look at each other in a slightly different light.
Aside from older riders having more sex than may be generally considered, results from the AARP sex survey, “Sex, Romance, and Relationships: AARP Survey of Midlife and Older Adults”, also contradicted popular opinion with singles age 45+ showing a higher satisfaction rate and having more sex than married couples in the same age group.
But some stereotypes rang true in the AARP study, such as which sex made sex a priority; Men are more than five times as likely as women with 45% vs. 8% to say they think of sex once or more every day, and men also rank sex higher on the list of what makes for a high quality of life.
And if any further correlation needed to be drawn between the AARP study and motorcycle enthusiasts, the final conclusion seems to draw a pretty solid line. Just as with riding, the largest predictor of sexual satisfaction is the number of times, or the frequency a respondent gets in the saddle. The number of people who consider themselves satisfied rockets to 84% if they “ride” more than once a week while the number falls to 59% for those who only “hit the road” twice a month.
WEIRD NEWS: HEAD GAMES
In Lagos, Nigeria, motorcycle taxis called “okada” are so dangerous in that local hospitals have special orthopedic wards meant just for people who have suffered accidents while riding them. So you'd think a law requiring passengers to wear helmets would be welcomed.
But it turns out that, for many Nigerians, the only thing scarier than a motorcycle taxi is a motorcycle helmet. Many people refuse to wear them out of fear of juju, or supernatural powers. Some fret that previous passengers may have put nefarious juju spells on the helmets to steal someone's good fortune, or to make a person disappear in order to be used in a sacred ritual.
"Our people are quite superstitious about anything dealing with their head," says Ralph Ibuzo, who created the “Original Lapa Guard”, a cloth cap that he claims can protect wearers from disease and sudden disappearance. "People believe that if you put on a helmet, [others] can take away your brain, or your good luck," he told the Wall Street Journal, so the hygienic cap provides a thin layer of separation between the head and a helmet full of potential trouble.
Aside from preventing paranormal paranoia, Mr. Ibuzo also has the law on his side as this sub-Saharan city enacted a traffic regulation last year that requires okada passengers to don helmets. But despite efforts at enforcement by city officials and traffic police, most passengers refuse to wear them out of concern about juju, widely feared throughout West Africa.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd President of the United States and principal author of the Declaration of Independence