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Wednesday, November 14, 2007
DOT Announces New Motorcycle Safety Initiative
Noting the need to reverse the disturbing trend of rising motorcycle injuries and fatalities, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters recently announced a comprehensive new federal plan to improve motorcycle safety with more rider education and training, stringent standards for helmet certification labeling, law enforcement training, and improved road plans that take into account the dynamics of motorcycle riding.
An avid motorcyclist herself, Secretary Peters is featured in a television public service announcement where she acknowledges that riding gear saved her life during a 2005 motorcycle crash.
"Take it from a motorcycle enthusiast who also happens to be the U.S. Secretary of Transportation," Secretary Peters says in the spot. "Check your bike before each ride, wear all your safety equipment and ride with others so you’re more visible. If I hadn't taken those safety precautions, I wouldn’t be standing here today."
According to Peters, the motorcycle safety initiative will establish new national safety and training standards for beginning riders, restrain counterfeit helmet labeling so that buyers can be certain they are purchasing DOT-certified helmets, put new attention on motorcycle-specific road improvements, offer training to law enforcement officers on how to recognize unsafe motorcyclists, and reducing the incidence of biking after drinking. Moreover, Peters said, the initiative includes a wide-ranging public awareness campaign – including the PSA - about safe riding practices.
Through the FHWA Motorcycle Advisory Committee, the DOT is working for the first time to make the roads specifically safer for motorcyclists by improving roadway design and maintenance. In addition to general population messaging about drinking and driving, the DOT is applying a novel approach to educate motorcyclists about the dangers of drinking and riding by reaching out to motorcyclists specifically at shows and rallies, and through motorcycle clubs and groups. Efforts to promote the use of helmets will be expanded to include information on the importance of using a DOT certified helmet. In addition, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard will be updated to tackle the falsification of helmet certifications that is enabled by the non-specific labeling requirements of the motorcycle helmet standard.
By implementing these activities, the Department hopes to reverse the intolerable trend in motorcycle fatalities, and hopes to meet its goal of 1.0 overall highway fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by 2011.
Secretary Peters said she is one of the numerous "baby-boomers" who have begun riding again after years of abandoning their bikes to concentrate on family and careers. She suffered a broken collarbone after an August 2005 crash on a two-lane highway just north of Tucson, Arizona.
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