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Mac Made


PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reported today that a recent opinion paper published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a hopelessly flawed analysis of motorcycling fatalities.

The IIHS "Status Report," released yesterday and entitled "Special Issue: Motorcycle Deaths," states that "motorcycles are a dim spot in the overall highway safety picture," despite the fact that motorcycling fatalities have declined by nearly 52% since 1980 -- a far better track record than any other form of highway transportation.

"This opinion paper simply recycles old news and misuses statistics to support preconceived conclusions, and yet the IIHS wants the American public to believe that it's done serious research," said Edward Moreland, Vice President of Government Relations for the AMA. "Even though we debunked these theories months ago, the IIHS seems to believe that if it repeats half-truths often enough, its statements will be accepted as fact."

The IIHS report opens with statistics released last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), showing an increase in fatalities among motorcyclists age 40 and older, and yet it fails to note that these statistics reflect a natural and predictable demographic trend. The report then uses a three-year increase in motorcycling fatalities -- ignoring the preceding 17-year trend of steadily decreasing fatalities -- to support its call for mandatory helmet-use laws.

Elsewhere in the report, in a graph comparing states with and without helmet laws, data for a state with a mandatory helmet-use law is erroneously combined with that for a state without such a law to represent "universal coverage," the report's term for a mandatory helmet-use law.

"It's no secret that the IIHS is bankrolled entirely by insurance companies, and that its real agenda here is to justify increasing rates," said the AMA's Moreland. "Motorcyclists have battled the IIHS many times in the past, and we've won. We'll win again, and the first step is to expose this opinion paper for what it is.

"We're concerned, of course, about any increase in motorcycle-related fatalities," Moreland continued, "but what we have here are questions, not answers. The AMA encourages anyone who's truly interested in reducing motorcycling fatalities, and not simply promoting a political agenda, to join us in calling for a comprehensive nationwide study of motorcycle accident data."

In 2000, the AMA -- along with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and other industry groups -- succeeded in incorporating a motorcycle-accident study into the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety. As a result, NHTSA officials have said they hope to begin such a study in the near future. The most recent comprehensive federal study of motorcycle accident data was published in 1980, and sampled accident data only in Southern California.

The AMA believes there is a clear distinction between the use of helmets and mandatory helmet-use laws. Although the AMA strongly encourages helmet use by all motorcyclists, as part of a comprehensive approach to motorcycle safety, it maintains a long-standing fundamental belief that adults should continue to have the right to voluntarily decide when to wear a helmet.

Published with permission. For more information, visit the AMA website at www.AMADirectlink.com
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