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Safer riding and cager awareness, something we as riders can do, and something other people can do. I'll admit my own culpability on the first issue, rather frequently exceeding the posted limit, and possibly even a reasonably safe margin above that. But likewise, I'd still say the majority of near-altercations I have with the pavement involve some yahoo in a cage who either couldn't see me due to visibility constraints, or didn't bother to look, or was distracted. (Kids, food, cellphone, whatever.)



What I don't see is a way to improve either of these things. I already know it's foolish to go so fast, and yet I choose to do it anyway. More education isn't going to make me *more* aware of the dangers of riding. And as for the cagers, how do you 'educate' them? Billboards? TV commercials? When I drive a cage, I'm a relatively careful driver, and I use my signals and check my mirrors before moving. But for drivers who are either too inexperienced to have developed that skill set, or are too set in their ways to bother, how do you convince them to make the effort.



Many questions, few answers.



-Kawazuki
 

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According to the chart on page 4 of the NHTSA document Motorcycle Safety Program, motorcycle deaths per 100,000 registrations dropped something like 25% from 1990 to 1997 while the rate for all vehicles dropped only 13%. Were we showered with kudos on that news? Not that I can recall. But now that the rate has bounced back from that extraordinarily low level, we've got hand-wringing all around. Yet the reduction in fatality rate over the longer term--from 1990 to 2001--is the same from motorcycles and all other vehicles, around 15%.

As I wrote recently in another thread: When the motorcycle riding population grows as it did from from 1997 to 2001 (registrations increased nationally by 28%), average risk--not just total risk--will grow. Harry Hurt found that newbies are about 50% more likely to crash than experienced riders. So when the sport booms, the greater percentage of newbies will increase average risk, and fatality rates, not just raw numbers, will rise.

Conversely, when the sport declines as it did from 1980 to 1997 (registrations dropped by 34%), a smaller percentage of newbies will cause average risk in the population decline, and both fatality numbers and rates will fall. And that's exactly what happened from 1980 to 1997; deaths per 100,000 registrations dropped 39%.

So the increase in rates seen recently is the mirror image of the decrease seen through 1997. However, rates are still reasonably low even by historical comparison. The 2001 fatality rate per 100,000 registrations is still well below the 1980 rate.
 

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The Toad
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Govt at its best! Aren't these the same clowns who gave us the 55mph speed limit and baby-killer airbags?

We are faced with a grave crisis! Immediate action is critical! Therefore we are going to..... fund another study! Appoint a new committee! See? We're doing something!

First we get the litany of the total number of fatalities for the entire nation with the usual overblown rhetoric about how this is all another grave crisis. Naturally later we will see how we need to spend many more dollars for more bureaucrats to study this phenomenon. Jobs for the boys as usual. More govt employees means more supervisory positions = more promotions and bonuses for the boys. I have experience with this as I worked for the Feds for a number of years and the levels of incompetence, nepotism, featherbedding and just plain criminal fraud have to be seen to be believed. The stupidest rise to the top, almost without exception and the basic intent of bureaucrats is to increase their importance, funding and pay grades while ensuring that they are legally unaccountable for their myriad failures. I quit because I couldn't stand it any more.

Note the quote, "While NHTSA is anxious to find effective solutions to this major public health problem – funding and greater activism are key."

Translation: "More money and more power for the NHTSA. More jobs for people who couldn't cook french fries."

This gobbledegook is the usual govt scam of dazzling the public with bullhunky so they will get confused and be unable to see the forest for the trees. The study conveniently glosses over the fact that motorcycle fatalities have increased 50% while the number of riders has nearly doubled. We have an massive increase in the number of new riders and since by far most crashes occur in the first riding year an increase in crashes is inevitable. We already know that the best solution is rider training. It is no secret.

In none of this is it mentioned that the riders themselves are responsible for their own incompetence and stupidity. The idea that the federal govt is going to reduce anyone else's level of stupidity is humorously surrealistic.

Any improvements are going to happen at the State levels as we've seen in places like Ohio. The NHTSA has no command authority over the States except the ability to withhold highway funds, anyhow. Even if they do come up with any good ideas (miracles do happen) it'll be years before these studies are done. But, if history is any guide, the studies will mainly recommend more study and, of course, more funding.

I'm not usually this pessimistic, but the record of results from federal action is abysmal.
 

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Malcolm Gladwell on the NHTSA

NHTSA-watchers who haven't seen it already should check out Malcolm Gladwell's 2001 article from the New Yorker. One relevant, interesting, and kind of depressing thread in the article is the two approaches to safety regulation -- "we will protect you" vs. "we will help you protect yourself" -- and the explanation of why the former approach won out inside the NHTSA.

Time for the AMA to roll out their scare-bike with the airbags and bumpers and fluorescent paint!
 

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How are we going to get other drivers to see motorcyclists? Couple of really simple things: disallow "I didn't see him/her," as an excuse for impeding a bikers right of way, and impose stiffer punishments for drivers who injure or kill bikers. If you are found guilty of a right of way infraction, lose your license for 30 days, mandatory. If you are found guilty of a right of way infraction that causes an injury, mandatory 48 hrs in jail. And if you kill someone for impeding their right of way, minimum 1-year (or more, but heck, lets start realistically, and right now these people are walking off scott-free) sentence, mandatory.



I just don't get it--I mean, at the very least, start increasing the fines for this type of behavior (OK, and traveling in the passing/left lane) so that people start feeling the sting for driving while stupid and give the state tax collectors/police something to do other than issue speeding tickets at the same time. Win win situation...

 

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Numbers can be manipulated, omitted or stated out of context to prove ANY point that the writer chooses.

just look at political campaigns....



I'm just disgusted with the whole system.



Unite and put out the TRUE numbers to educate the public and the legislature.



in the meantime....



I'm gonna go buy arm chaps and meet the Highywayman at the bar to drown my sorrows.

hopefully I won't become another manipulated statistic.

:)
 

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The Toad
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Re: Malcolm Gladwell on the NHTSA

An excellent read. Thank you.

This article very clearly describes an attitude that is all too common in our current political climate. That is the attitude that certain people are so absolutely right and smarter than everyone else (they think) that in their crusade to "do good" they wreak vast harm.

I no longer accept the lousy excuse that "they had good intentions".
 

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Super Duper Mod Man
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Your post is 100% correct. How did they get most of the drunk drivers off the road? Stiff penalties. The best education is punishment. People think twice about getting drunk and driving, but certainly don't think a bit about using the cell or reading and killing someone. "Oops I didn't see him" is an easy way out. If you accidently shoot someone with a gun you are minimally charged with manslaughter, but run em over in the car and get away with a $200.00 fine. Crazy.
 

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I agree with you completely seruzawa. You better be careful though, if you continue with these types of anti big government diatribes you will be chastised by the lovers of the nanny state as a member of the lunitic fringe. Of course all of the rest of us cognisetti that adhere to Misesian economics and paleo libertarianism will gladly wecome you to the fold. VWW
 

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The Toad
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Ah, who cares? I'm already on every list imaginable.



I don't go as far as Ayn Rand. But I do dearly love her description of the populace being divided into two distinct groups- producers and looters.



We know which group welcomes this NHTSA cagal.
 

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You and I have some significant political differences, but regardless of how one feels about the government role in promoting vehicle safety, I think many would agree that HOW our government goes about it is at best, ineffectual.



Most of the developed world takes the tack of emphasizing active safety -- better education/licensing standards, stricter enforcement of drunk driver laws, and more stringent and meaningful vehicle safety inspections -- that sort of thing, rather than the nannyism we see here.



Please note that I am not at all suggesting that their forms of government are better, so don't start flaming on that point. My point is that a wide variety of countries, covering a wide range of the political spectrum, do a much better job of assuring that everyone on the road has reasonable skills. (See Sean's recent article on the SV1000 test in Spain for an illustration). It is not an accident that these countries typically have much more reasonable speed limits and more reasonable enforcement of those limits.



I agree that there needs to be limits on the role of big government. I do not want to have, for example, the same kind of government as Germany or France. However, I DO think it IS a proper role of government to take reasonable steps to assure that the others with whom I must share the road are not a serious threat to my safety. My objection is not that they try to do so, but that they suck at it. In this specific respect, Germany and France do one hell of a lot better job.



Cheers

Bob



 
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