Monday, February 19, 2007

US Secretary of Transportation is a Biker

US Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, recently gave a speech at the Motorcycle Industry Council (on Feb. 16) in which she addressed the rise in motorcycle accidents and fatalities. She specifically addressed that many of these accidents involve baby boomers who take up or return to motorcycling later in life. Now, some old school bikers will be offended by some what she says, Peters advocates making helmets mandatory in all 50 states, and increasing safety training for bikers. (edit 3/8/07 10:50 am PST -- Peters does not advocate mandatory helmets for all states, it has been shown to me. Please see the correction here.) But all in all, I was impressed by her clarity, and common sense in approaching safety issues for motorcyclists. It's nice to have one of our own in this position.

From the transcript of Mary Peter's speech:

Despite the substantial progress we have made in reducing automobile crashes and fatalities, more than 43,000 people a year are still dying on America’s roadways. And motorcycle crashes are one of the main reasons our progress in increasing highway safety has stalled.
Motorcycles are 2 percent of the vehicles on the road, but they account for over 10 percent of all crashes.
It is painful to see a shiny Honda or Kawasaki bike reduced to a pile of mangled metal on the side of the road. It is tougher still to see the broken bones and broken hearts these crashes leave in their wake.
Yet for almost a decade, motorcycle fatalities have been going up steadily. In fact, they have more than doubled since 1997 – increasing by 115 percent. In 2005 alone, more than 4,500 motorcyclists lost their lives in crashes. An additional 78,000 riders were injured.
One troubling trend is the aging Baby Boomers who are finding themselves with empty nests and a little disposable income. Many of them are going out and buying bikes – and wrecking them. The ten-year increase in crashes among the Renaissance Riders like me – the 50-plus age group – is astonishing. Four hundred percent!
There are faces behind those statistics. You are looking at one of them.


Combatscoot said...

I have no problem with a helmet law- grew-up in a state that had one before I was born. I don't think it's fair to keep moaning and groaning about the freedom to choose a helmet or not when:
1. Everyone pays when you bust your head open.
2. The cagers have to wear their seatbelts.
I also think there should be more enforcement of laws that state a rider should wear eye protection, gloves, long sleeves, pants, and boots. It's all a part of the self-preservation package. Just my .02

punkelf said...

Rationally, I totally agree with you. I wouldn't think of riding without helmet, gloves, boots,and heavy (if not armored)jacket and pants. Skin grafts just don't sound like my kind of fun.
But I grew up around a lot of old school bikers who had very libertarian views towards "brain buckets." I may not agree with them, but it feels disrespectful to just up and tell them they are wrong. So I tiptoe around the topic.

I think the entertainment industry should be lobbied on this as well. A lot of the resistance "hot-shot" young riders have to safety gear, comes from them wanting to emulate heroic outlaws from movies who ride with just a leather vest.