Lawmakers want federal traffic safety agency
to focus on crash prevention
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has introduced a resolution urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to concentrate on motorcycle crash prevention and rider education instead of lobbying state lawmakers to enact mandatory helmet laws, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
The resolution is in response to a statement made by NHTSA Administrator David Strickland in May reemphasizing Congressional testimony he gave in March when he stated that the core component of NHTSA's motorcycle safety plan is to increase helmet use and "anything the Congress does that would support the movement of riders into helmets would be efficacious of safety."
On April 2, AMA Senior Vice President for Government Relations Ed Moreland sought a clarification of Strickland's comments. The letter can be read here. Strickland's response can be read here.
The resolution, which was introduced on July 1, supports efforts to retain a federal ban on the agency from using taxpayer dollars to lobby state and local legislators. Reps. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Tom Petri (R-Wis.) co-sponsored the measure.
The anti-lobbying language was originally written into the Transportation Equity Act approved by Congress in 1998.
"It is the job of Congress to protect the rights of the states and also the freedom and individual responsibilities that motorcycle riders across the nation enjoy as they travel the open roads of America," Sensenbrenner said.
The AMA's Moreland thanked Sensenbrenner for his efforts.
"The key to reducing motorcycle injuries and fatalities is found in the implementation of strategies that prevent the likelihood of a crash from happening in the first place," Moreland said. "We are pleased to see that Rep. Sensenbrenner and his colleagues who back his resolution are mindful of the importance of motorcycle crash prevention, and the pursuit of rider education as a primary means to reduce injuries and save lives," he said.
Sensenbrenner's resolution notes that federal law currently states: "No funds appropriated to the secretary for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shall be available for any activity specifically designed to urge a state or local legislator to favor or oppose the adoption of any specific legislative proposal pending before any state or local legislative body."
The resolution also states that federal lawmakers support efforts to retain the lobbying ban, encourages continued growth in motorcycling, recognizes the importance of motorcycle crash prevention, and encourages the traffic safety agency to focus on crash prevention and rider education "as the most significant priorities in motorcycle safety."