Michael Drake, 24, of Sarasota, was seriously hurt last month when a driver made a U-turn into the path of his motorcycle, above, at Myrtle Street and U.S. 41 in Sarasota. Drake, who was wearing his helmet, was thrown from the bike as it struck the car, and was still in the hospital Saturday. The accident was one of a spate of motorcycle crashes in December.
The story is entitled "TWO WHEELS, ONE BIG RISK" Printed in the Sarasota Herald Tribune written by:
By HALLE STOCKTON
Published: Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 8:36 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 8:36 a.m.
Comments of course, will be ours.
It is again an example of press bias based on ignorance and poor reporting. It tells part of a story leading one to believe that a particular agenda is being pursued. My question would be: why is that we see this stories cropping up with increased frequency every time the legislature is in session?
Last year these stories led to Representative Lopez-Cantera abusing the power of his office to pursue a personal vendetta against sport bikers by introducing discriminatory and initially constitutionally questionable legislation. What will it be this year????? Story follows, if we feel an uncontrollable desire to comment we will. Well hell you didn't think we wouldn't did ya?
The price of gas is what led Scott Stevens of Arcadia to begin riding his motorcycle instead of the family SUV to and from work at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Stevens, 47, had five children, and the extra money made a difference at home. He was killed the night of Oct. 16 returning from work on State Road 70 when a car swerved into his lane, and the driver fled without helping Stevens.
Stevens was among 22 motorcyclists killed in Manatee and Sarasota counties in 2008, the highest death toll for this area in at least a decade. Nearly half of those deaths have occurred since September, and four were in December alone.
Such grim numbers are not isolated. Deaths of motorcyclists are increasing statewide and nationally, as high gas prices and a dismal economy have forced more people to look to motorcycles as primary transportation rather than recreation.
(COMMENT: So lets question the veracity of this statement. If it is true that motorcycle deaths increasing nationally, why is that:
Motorcycle deaths are down in Illinois- 54 motorcycle deaths (compared to 65 fatalities during the first 6 months of 2007)
Lancaster Pennsylvania traffic related deaths are down 8.3% in 2008 compared to 2007. They do not break out MC accidents separately.
Virgina reports a 39% decrease in Motorcycle Fatalities in 2008 compared to 2007.
Both Ohio and Kentucky report reductions in accident fatalities overall. They do not break out the MC accidents in the paper, however they do bring to light a under looked phenomena. They count 23 deaths attributable to ATV' riders 21 of whom were not wearing helmets. These are figures that are often placed under the motorcycle category skewing helmet fatality statistics.
We could go on, however when by the 7th sentence of a news story the truth is not presented in its totality one begins to wonder.)
In Florida, a surge in the number of motorcyclists, paired with a 2000 state law allowing most of them to ditch helmets, has led to an unprecedented spike in the number of riders being killed.
(Comment: Right here would be like a really good place to include independently verified statistical analysis proving the statement. Or hell, maybe just a link to the research that outlines it's methodology to include it's controls.)
"Motorcycles are inherently more dangerous because you don't have all the protection that an automobile provides you," said Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Miller. "You don't have airbags or seat belts. You don't have all that steel surrounding your body, so you're going to take a large part of that impact to your body."
(COMMENT: Not exactly Rocket Science LT. Miller. However just as in the controversy over firearms, it is not the vehicle that is inherently dangerous. Vehicles by themselves are inanimate objects incapable of hurting anybody until put in the hands of people! Just as it is the hand behind the trigger that makes a gun dangerous it is the driver of the vehicle that makes any particular vehicle dangerous.)
Miller also said combining those risks with the "sheer number" of bikers now on the road explains why motorcycle accidents and fatalities are at a record high.
A quick look at the numbers illustrates his point.
In 2006, 1.1 million motorcycles were purchased in the United States, a 29 percent increase from 2001, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. The record is 1.5 million motorcycles purchased in 1975 -- when fuel prices were at a peak.
Since 2002, motorcycle registrations swelled more than 60 percent in both Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Nationwide, 5,037 motorcyclists died in 2007, the highest death count in more than 30 years and accounting for about 12 percent of all motor vehicle deaths that year, said Anne Fleming, a spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
(COMMENT: The article does not tell us where IIHS got its numbers. Some of us from experience know that in most cases the IIHS gets it's Numbers from NHTSA which which in the past have been proven to be notoriously flawed. NHTSA depends on the states to provide it with numbers. In the past many states did not comply. Recently NHTSA has passed a ruling stipulating the state must comply.Florida complies, with a note stipulating that their numbers can not be relied on.(See: Vehicle Miles Traveled skews research
Relevant information regarding Vehicle Miles Traveled
(the formula by which NHTSA arrives at it's crash data is not accurate)
Docket No. FHWA-2006-23638
HPMS Reassessment 2010+ Issues
June 26, 2007
Motorcycle data: We currently collect and report motorcycle data, but we are concerned about the usefulness of this data. Sensors don’t register motorcycles consistently, motorcycles have different usage patterns during the week (more on weekends, which are avoided for most traffic data collection), and different seasonal patterns (more during good weather and during special events, such as Daytona Bike Week). To obtain PDF FHWA-2006-23638-0097.pdf go to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=09000064802aa7a9
FROM: U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration
Subject: ACTION: Motorcycle Travel Data Date: January 30, 2007
From: (Original Signed by) Mr. J. Richard Capka, Administrator, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) (Original Signed by) Ms. Nicole R. Nason, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Refer To: HPPI-20
To: FHWA Division Administrators
NHTSA Regional Administrators
Since fatality rates based on VMT are the best measure of exposure risk for motor vehicle crashes, it is critical that FHWA receive accurate, complete, and timely VMT data to determine accurate crash rates and to monitor trends. These VMT data (and particularly motorcycle VMT) have been the discussion of recent Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) Reassessment workshops documented in the HPMS Reassessment Safety Issue Paper.
These programs are the source of the annual travel data reported by States in the HPMS ("Travel Activity by Vehicle Type" form). Currently, the reporting of motorcycle VMT data in HPMS is optional and consequently, many States choose not to report it. We appreciate the efforts of those States that already are reporting this data, and encourage all States to report these data as part of their 2006 HPMS submittal in June 2007. The reporting of motorcycle travel will be required for all States beginning with the 2007 HPMS data reported in June 2008.
Please discuss this immediate and critical data need with your State traffic and HPMS staff to assure that these data, if available, are submitted in 2007, and to provide necessary resources and priority for reporting in 2008. Information on funding and technical assistance is available from the following individuals:
HPMS questions: Traffic Data Collection questions: NHTSA Safety Program Funding questions
David Winter at 202-366-4631 Ralph Gillmann at 202-366-5042 Jack Oates at 202-366-2730
In Florida, there were 517 motorcycle fatalities in 2007, compared with 155 such deaths in 1999 -- the last full year in which riders in Florida were required to wear helmets, according to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle records.
(COMMENT: Number of vehicle drivers using cell phones while driving has also increased significantly. Since the data shows that driving while using a cellphone is equal to driving while intoxicated is it no wonder that fatalities have gone up. (see: http://www.motorcyclists-against-dumb-drivers.com/cell-phones-and-dui-drunk-driving.html The use of GPS systems that also double as picture viewers and are mounted in the drivers eyesight has also risen dramatically. What impact have these distractions had on the writers message?)
Economic realities are one reason there are more motorcyclists on the road, experts say. A decent used motorcycle can be picked up for $2,000 and most bikes get 40 miles to the gallon or more.
Mike Ellerbe, a motorcycle safety instructor at Manatee Community College, asks each new student to explain at the start of class why he or she wants to ride a motorcycle.
Usually, there is a mix of older men harking back to an old hobby and the younger adults who want to ride because motorcycles are fun and cheap, he said.
"But more people have been saying the $4 price of gas and the high mileage per gallon" is the reason for switching to a motorcycle, Ellerbe said.
Legislators seem to waver on how involved they should be in mandating safety precautions for motorcycle riders.
Congress removed federal sanctions against states without helmet use laws in 1995. Currently, 27 states have laws that typically pertain only to riders 18 and younger. Three states abolished their helmet laws altogether, and the remaining 20 states and the District of Columbia have mandatory helmet laws.
In 2000, Governor Jeb Bush signed a law repealing Florida's mandatory helmet law for anyone older than 21 with at least $10,000 of medical insurance.
The number of motorcycle deaths has soared since then, something that has also occurred in other states where helmet laws were relaxed, said Fleming, of the Insurance Institute.
To counter the soaring fatalities in Florida, state legislators enacted a law in July requiring all new cyclists to pass a safety class before being granted the motorcycle license endorsement.
The course, which was previously only mandatory for riders younger than 21, involves five hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of riding practice on a certified training range.
During these state-required classes, students must wear helmets and they are strongly encouraged to pick up the habit outside of class.
(COMMENT: At the beginning of Florida Department of Highway Safety's "Ride Proud Dress Loud campaign", I spoke on the phone with the head of Rider Training in Florida. HE validated what we already knew, THERE IS NO INDEPENDENT PEER REVIEWED STUDIES DEMONSTRATING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE MOTORCYCLE SAFETY FOUNDATIONS (MRF) RIDER TRAINING CURRICULUM, Which is the curriculum Florida uses.)
"But we can't get legislation taking the state back to a mandatory helmet law," said Marianne Trussell, chief safety officer for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Other states have reinstated helmet laws. In Louisiana, state officials weakened the helmet law in 1999. But when motorcyclist deaths doubled, the law mandating that helmets be worn was reinstated.
In Florida, Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, is considering proposing a bill that would reinstate mandatory helmet use, said her legislative assistant Marvin Wilson. Action may be taken once the Senate's regular session commences, Wilson said.
Any such bill is likely to face opposition from motorcycle riders, who consider whether to use a helmet a "personal rights issue," Trussell said.
(COMMENT: Because, that's exactly what it is, an "individual rights issue". By treating it as a "safety Issue" the states have done more than diverted attention from the politically unpopular methods that would make a "real" difference in overall deaths by vehicle. Focusing on helmets only proves the axiom that one can't "see the forest for the trees".)"They say, 'It's my decision to wear a helmet and decide whether I'm going to die riding my motorcycle or not.'"
(FINAL COMMENT: I'm not sure I have heard anybody say it exactly like that. This is America. One of the things that sets this country apart from others is the value we place on individual freedoms and the animosity we have demonstrated in the past towards dictatorial regimes. People have left other countries and come here for that reason. Our forefathers dumped the previous regime due to their interference in our everyday lives. Is it once again time to do the same?)Add to Technorati Favorites.