AMA Logo
March 24, 1998

The Honorable Quentin L. Kopp, Chair
Senate Transportation Committee
State Capitol
Sactamento, CA 95814

Dear Senator Kopp:

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is a not-for-profit organization with 223,000 members nationwide. On behalf of our 30,000 California members, we write regarding the effort to modify California's helmet law via AB-1412.

The AMA supports voluntary helmet use for adult motorcyclists. however, we are strongly opposed to provisions that condition rider choice on economic criteria such as the insurance requirements amended to AB-1412. The health insurance conditions of AB-1412 suggest that motorcyclists, and the costs related to their potential injuries, as a draw on taxpayer dollars. This is simply not true.

The issue is first and foremost about the freedom of adults to make decisions regarding personal safety for themselves. While the AMA encourages motorcyclists to wear appropriate protective gear and ride responsibly, we strongly believe that adults should have the right to voluntarily decide when to wear a helmet.

Motorcyclists are not a social burden. Less than 1/2 of one percent of the vehicles involved in crashes nationwide are motorcycles. Studies by the University of North Carolina's UNC Highway Safety Research Center examined heath-care costs between helmeted and unhelmeted riders, as well as motorcyclists and other motorists. Not only was it determined that motorcyclists are just as likely to be insured as other motor-vehicle operators, but the costs of motorcyclists' injuries were slightly lower than other road trauma victims. Additionally, helmet use was not shown to affect injury costs.

For these reasons, the AMA strongly encourages the removal of the insurance conditions and subsequent approval of AB-1412.   With the economic conditions of insurance in tact, the AMA cannot support this legislation.



Sean M. Maher
Legislative Affairs Specialist
Government Relations Department

EDITOR'S NOTE: Interestingly, I spoke with Oz just last week (3/20/98) during which he tried to convince me that the AMA was not against our bill, after both the AMA and the MRF distributed press releases against insurance. I've taken a lot of heat lately for opposing the insurance clause in AB1412 and have been "accused" of being anti-ABATE. Hogwash!

Most of the Board and PAC agree with me individually, but are backing the bill anyway. ...Lose the insurance and I'll back it too! But with Insurance it's the wrong signal, dangerous and short sighted. Oz, in all seriousness, told me only 25 people in California were against the insurance clause, implying that all the anti-noise was trumped up on the internet. Yeah Right! With both the AMA and MRF against us in force, I hope those supporting the insurance clause will wake up and realize that this bill could kill ABATE! You can point your finger all day long at folks like me, but at the end of that day... you don't see the AMA or MRF petitioning against me, do you? Your PAC and Chair, Mike Osborn, are taking this ship down. Take your eyes off the rear-view and smell the iceberg! This bill is dividing us internally and externally and for what? I keep hearing: "it's our bill and we can kill it anytime." Fine then do it NOW! Otherwise we are wasting our valuable and limited resources or those of our legislators? Really bad form!

If we don't have a bill in a final form that we will support all the way, then we have no business floating one. If you think these pages are anti-ABATE... look again, you'll be thanking me tomorrow. This insurance clause is what is anti-ABATE, along with those that support it!


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