The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) praised U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) for standing up against a proposal that would have indirectly forced states to pass mandatory helmet laws.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) was poised to introduce the proposal on Dec. 14 during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on S. 1449 -- the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2011. His proposal was an amendment to S. 1449, but he decided against offering it in the committee.
In a statement for the record, Ayotte noted that the amendment would take away the right of the people in a state to decide whether to have a mandatory helmet law "by indirectly forcing all states to pass mandatory universal helmet laws in order to receive funding for motorcycle safety.
"States without mandatory universal helmet laws -- such as New Hampshire -- would be subject to stricter eligibility criteria, and would be forced to use 50 percent of their grant funds to promote helmet use," she said.
"This amendment violates the original intent of the motorcyclist safety grant program, which has traditionally focused on encouraging states to fund motorcycle safety awareness, education and training," she said. "This amendment would divert funds away from awareness and education and, instead, use them to place federal pressure on states to enact mandatory universal helmet laws."
Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, thanked Ayotte for her statement, noting the AMA also opposed the Lautenberg amendment.
"Federal efforts should focus on preventing crashes rather than mandating what gear riders should wear," Allard said.
Besides opposing the Lautenberg amendment, the AMA has been working on Capitol Hill to try to ensure that motorcycle-only checkpoints don't proliferate around the nation, and working to ensure that motorcyclists' concerns about possible engine damage are considered before federal officials approve the use of higher ethanol-gasoline blends for motorcycles.
"We need the help of all riders," Allard said. "More AMA members means more political clout, from the statehouse to the White House. We urge motorcyclists to join the AMA to help protect motorcycling now and in the future."
To join, go to http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/membership/join.
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination freedom on two wheels. As the world's largest motorcycling rights organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists' interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its support of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, please visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com.
Source: American Motorcyclist Association