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AMA Opposes Government Regulation of Rider Apparel

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- In what could be the first step toward regulating the gear that motorcyclists wear, the federal government is considering requiring motorcycle rider apparel manufacturers to report clothing defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The proposal is included in a notice the government issued stating that it plans to propose rules for motor vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers to report customer satisfaction and certain other information to the federal government to help the NHTSA identify defects related to motor vehicle safety. The rules would implement the early warning reporting requirements of a federal law -- The Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act -- that was approved in 2000 following problems related to Firestone tires on Ford Explorers.

Specifically, the notice of proposed rulemaking notes that the rules would cover, among other things, "accessory equipment and `off-vehicle equipment' that is not part of a motor vehicle, such as retroreflective motorcycle rider apparel and child restraints."

Former NHTSA Administrator Joan Claybrook, now president of the public interest group Public Citizen, told the government that equipment manufacturers, including the makers of motorcycle jackets, should report defects to both vehicle manufacturers and the NHTSA "because reporting by the vehicle manufacturers (to the NHTSA) is the simplest and easiest way for NHTSA to maintain a usable database."

Imre Szauter, AMA legislative affairs specialist, notes that creation of a database is usually the first step in setting up new regulations to regulate equipment. This notice of proposed rulemaking, he said, could be the first step for mandatory rider apparel certification and use.
The AMA told the NHTSA that including motorcycle rider apparel in the reporting requirements appears to go beyond what Congress intended in approving the TREAD Act.

"The AMA believes that requiring motorcycle apparel manufacturers to report defects under the TREAD Act is both impractical and unworkable," the Association said. "There is typically no direct connection between the brand of motorcycle and the brand of rider apparel chosen by a motorcyclist. Unlike other motor vehicle equipment, original equipment and replacement equipment, tires or child restraints, apparel is neither installed in or on a vehicle.
"In addition, motorcycle apparel is not worn exclusively during motorcycle operation," the AMA said. "For example, motorcycle jackets are often worn in cars, buses, trains, planes, while walking, etc."
The Association added that the NHTSA should focus on the major issues that lead to the need for the early warning reporting requirement of the TREAD Act -- identifying specific vehicle-related equipment that, if defective, would possibly lead to death or injury.

The NHTSA is accepting written comments only, sent by mail. The comment deadline is Feb. 4, 2002, but the agency will also consider comments received after that date "to the extent possible." The final rule must be issued by June 30.
To comment, refer to Docket NHTSA 2001-8677, Notice 2, and send two copies of your comments to: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh St. SW, Washington DC 20590. An easy way to send your comments is to go to the AMA's website at www.AMADirectlink.com and then click on the Rapid Response Center. There, you will find a letter you can print out, sign, and mail.

Contact: Bill Kresnak
Phone: (614) 856-1900
Fax: (614) 856-1920

The American Motorcyclist Association is a 270,000-member nonprofit organization. Established in 1924, the Association's purpose is to pursue, protect and promote the interests of motorcyclists, while serving the needs of its members. For more information, visit the AMA website at www.AMADirectlink.com
Published with permission.
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