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Mac Made

U.S. House Committee Backs New Motorcycle Crash Study

A key U.S. House committee has taken the first step toward updating the famous Hurt Study of motorcycle accidents by earmarking $2 million for detailed safety research into motorcycles and other motor vehicles.

The Hurt Study, officially called "Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures," was completed by lead researcher Harry Hurt more than two decades ago. Yet it remains the most comprehensive study to date on the causes of motorcycle crashes.

After repeated calls by the AMA for new comprehensive research on the subject, the House Appropriations Committee has recommended giving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) $2 million to begin updating its 23-year-old study into the causes of motor-vehicle crashes.

For the past several years, the AMA has asked the NHTSA to conduct a nationwide study of motorcycling accidents that would help identify elements that can improve rider safety. In 2000, the NHTSA and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation released a National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety to serve as a blueprint for improving motorcycling safety. Representatives of the AMA, Motorcycle Riders Foundation, and others interested in motorcycling safety were part of a team that helped shape the plan, which calls for more research into the causes of motorcycle accidents and potential ways to reduce them.

In earmarking the $2 million, the U.S. House committee made it clear that motorcycles should be an important part of the new motor-vehicle crash research.

"While NHTSA continues to utilize the data from this old study, the information is clearly outdated. For example, the use of minivans, light trucks and sport utility vehicles were virtually nonexistent 23 years ago; vehicle technologies, such as antilock braking systems and stability control systems, did not exist, and distracting devices, such as cell phones and in-vehicle navigation systems, had not been introduced," the committee said in a report accompanying the appropriation recommendation.

"An updated study is necessary so that NHTSA can continue to work on achieving substantial reductions in highway fatalities and injuries, particularly in those hard to reach areas such as alcohol-related fatalities and motorcycle fatalities," the committee said.

The Senate hasn't taken a position on the appropriation.

Edward Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations, urged motorcyclists to contact their U.S. representatives and senators to ask them to support the House funding for motor-vehicle safety research that is included in HR 5559.

The funding is a far cry from the amount needed for a comprehensive motorcycle accident study, but it's a move in the right direction, Moreland said.

"This funding proposal isn't a done deal, so it's extremely important that motorcyclists contact their lawmakers," Moreland added. "It will take a lot of work, but I'm confident that through the efforts of AMA members and others in the motorcycling community, we'll see the beginning of new motorcycle crash research."

The AMA makes it easy for motorcyclists to take action.

Just go to the Rapid Response Center at the AMA website at and click on the "Fund National Motorcycle Crash Study" alert to find a pre-written message to send to your elected officials.

This summer, Moreland testified before Congress on the need for an in-depth study into the causes of motorcycle crashes.

"The last such study was completed and released over 21 years ago," Moreland told the U.S. House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. "The changing dynamics of motorcycling, infrastructure and safety measures demand modern, comprehensive and impartial research."


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