June Motorcycle News

Safety studies show the most dangerous time for motorcyclists is their first year riding, peaking in the first month. For motorcycle riders, their first 30 days are about four times more risky than their entire second year.  A study by the Highway Loss Data Institute shows 22% of nearly 57,000 collision claims from 2003 to 2007 occurred within 30 days of a new policy taking effect.  The claim rate then dropped by one-third in the second month and by almost two-thirds after six months.

U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Tom Petri ((R-Wis.), together with 29 additional members of Congress, have sent a letter to the leadership of the House-Senate Surface Transportation Reauthorization Conference Committee requesting the inclusion of language in the conference report that would prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from providing grants or any funds to states or local governments to be used for any program to create motorcycle-only checkpoints, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

Responding to a nationwide appeal issued by the AMA on May 29, AMA members and concerned motorcyclists contacted their elected representatives and urged them to sign on to the Sensenbrenner-Petri letter. As a result, a bipartisan group of legislators now seeks to overturn a controversial federal program that unfairly discriminates against motorcyclists.

The AMA began tracking motorcycle-only checkpoints when they first appeared in New York in 2007. In 2011, using funds provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state of Georgia conducted roadside motorcycle-only checkpoints as thousands of motorcyclists rode through the state on their way to Daytona Beach, Fla., for Bike Week, March 4-13. Another motorcycle-only checkpoint was conducted in northern Virginia during one of the nation's most visible motorcycle rallies - Rolling Thunder - over the 2011 Memorial Day Weekend. Motorcycle-only checkpoints were also conducted in Utah when thousands of riders attended a world-class roadracing event. Three states have since outlawed the practice -- Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire - and legislation to prohibit them has been introduced in Illinois, California, Missouri and New Jersey


NHTSA reported in October 2011 that the motorcycle fatality rate from 2000-2009 declined 15.59 percent per 100,000 registered vehicles, and 22.48 percent per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.  

The Governor's Highway Safety Association reported in May 2012 that motorcycle fatalities in 2011 were expected to be the same as 2010, and in 2010 fatalities were only marginally higher than 2009 – when the GHSA reported a significant 16 percent decline. The same GHSA report indicated that 11 states that do not have universal helmet requirements (Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Wyoming) reported fewer motorcycle fatalities in 2011, and seven states that have universal helmet laws (Alabama, California, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Virginia) reported greater fatalities in 2011.

“Clearly there is a need for additional research to better understand the causes of crashes, which is why the AMA supports the motorcycle crash causation study currently underway at Oklahoma State University,” said Allard.


Motorcyclists are eager to legally cruise side-by-side now that Governor Bob McDonnell has signed legislation permitting them to ride two abreast in a single driving lane in Virginia.

House Bill 97, sponsored by Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Harrisonburg), passed overwhelmingly 87-10 in the House and 38-2 in the Senate, and will now allow two-wheeled motorcycles to drive alongside each other in one lane. State law currently prohibits motorcyclists from riding next to one another, and violators can be charged with reckless driving.

“The bill allows riders to use their own judgment in determining when it is appropriate to ride beside someone, but does not require them to do so,” said Del. Wilt. “One goal is to eliminate the harsh punishment placed on riders for doing something as innocent as pulling aside another rider while stopped or taking off together after being stopped.”

Virginia will become the 49th state to accommodate two-abreast riding when the new law takes effect July 1. Vermont remains the only state to prohibit the practice.

Editor's Note: I am glad to see this because my husband and I were arrested in Virginia for riding side by side and spent thenight in jail and were charged with reckless driving

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