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Posts Tagged ‘Motorcycle Safety’

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 3.34.02 PMThe State of Oregon has more than 74,000 miles of total roads and highways to wander as you set out on your northwest adventure.  The state is known for a diverse landscape including the Pacific coastline, the Cascade Mountain Range, and the flat central/eastern desert. It’s the ninth largest state and with a population of 4 million, the 26th most populous.

Yet, over the last couple of weeks the state is being defined by an alarming spike in motorcycle accidents and rider deaths!  OSP flash alerts are HERE.

  • On Highway 36 on June 24th a 2004 Harley crossed the center line and struck a Ford Ranger head-on. The motorcyclist, 56-year-old Michael R. Lucier of Swisshome, died at the scene.
  • On June 25th there was motorcycle crash on Highway 46 at milepost 7 (Caves Highway near Cave Junction).  The preliminary investigation revealed that a 2001 Triumph motorcycle was eastbound on Highway 46 at milepost 7 when it left the roadway on a corner. The motorcycle struck a tree and the rider, Patrick Michael Daley, age 57, of Cave Junction, was thrown down the embankment and pronounced deceased at the scene.
  • On June 26th there was a report of a truck versus motorcycle collision on Interstate 5 at the 235 interchange (just north of Albany). The 1995 Kenworth truck tractor was towing a chip trailer and had been traveling southbound on Old Salem Road. The truck began to make a left turn onto the Interstate 5 southbound on-ramp, but turned in front of a northbound 1995 Kawasaki motorcycle. The motorcyclist crashed as a result of the truck turning into its path. The rider, Kevin R. Argo, age 39, of Lebanon was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency personnel.
  • On June 30th near Deadwood, OR, Richard F. Araujo, 68, died when he missed a corner on his 1992 Harley Davidson and sideswiped a Dodge pickup. It was the 2nd fatal motorcycle crash on Highway 36 in less than a week.
  • On July 2nd OSP responded to a report of a motorcycle versus vehicle crash on London Road near the Cottage Grove Reservoir.  Information revealed a 1999 Honda 900 motorcycle was traveling southbound on London Road at a high rate of speed just as a 2008 Chrysler Sebring was pulling out of a private drive northbound. The motorcycle impacted the driver’s side of the Sebring. The rider, identified as Cory Nathan Tocher, age 33, of Cottage Grove, was thrown from the motorcycle and pronounced deceased at the scene.
  • Also on July 2nd there was a report of a traffic crash involving a motorcycle rider and an SUV on Southeast 82nd Avenue near Schiller Street.  Efforts to save the motorcyclist, 45-year-old Aaron Christopher Rufener were unsuccessful and he was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency personnel.  The driver of the SUV, a 44-year-old man, remained at the scene and was cooperative. Officers learned that he was driving northbound on 82nd Avenue and was turning left into the Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant parking lot when the southbound motorcycle rider crashed into the passenger side rear of the SUV, a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer. The motorcycle is a 2013 Harley Davidson.

In addition, on July 5th there was a vehicle crash reported on I-5, just south of Ashland.  The crash, involved a BMW motorcycle and a semi-truck going southbound at mile post 10.5.  The motorcycle was from Mexico and was traveling at about 70 mph when it ran into the back of a semi-truck.  The motorcycle driver was transported to Oregon Health and Science University to be treated for his life-threatening injuries.

On July 6th, again on I-5 in northern Josephine County near Wolf Creek, OSP responded to the single-vehicle accident at milepost 80.  David Carl Freiboth, 61-year-old of Mercer Island was riding his Triumph motorcycle in the fast lane of I-5 when a semi-truck in the slow lane quickly signaled and changed lanes in front of him.  Freiboth told OSP he hit his brakes and quickly veered away from the semi, which caused him to hit the median and lay his bike down. He complained of shoulder pain and was transported by AMR Ambulance to Three Rivers Medical Center for treatment.  A motorcyclist behind Freiboth confirmed the incident, but was unsure about the description of the semi – which did not stop after causing the mishap.

Oregon has no shortage of steep grades, tight curves and awesome views that can be fascinating on a motorcycle.  But, please, PLEASE pay attention because we want you to live through your trip here!

If you are new or considering a motorcycle visit to the state I urged riders – to review motorcycle safety information.

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Triumph-RecallSafety recalls are usually instigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the vehicle’s manufacturer. In either case, the manufacture must file a public report describing the recall and must attempt to notify owners of recalled vehicles or vehicle equipment.

All motorcycle manufactures have seen there share of recalls, but Triumph is having an unfortunate run of build quality lately.  Below is a list of the recall notices from the NHTSA.

Back In January: Triumph Motorcycles recalled 250 model year 2011-2012 Daytona 675 and Street Triple motorcycles and 2012 Thunderbird and Thunderbird Storm motorcycles. The wheels were assembled with bearings of an unknown quality. Wheel bearings of poor quality could fail unexpectedly, increasing the risk of a motorcycle crash. Triumph will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected bearings free of charge. The NHTSA Campaign Number: 13V032000

They also recalled 244 model year 2013 Trophy motorcycles manufactured from September 5, 2012, through November 29, 2012. These motorcycles were produced with a label bearing incorrect tire data which fails to conform to the labeling requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 120, “Tire Selection and Rims for Motor Vehicles Other Than Passenger Cars,” and they fail to comply with the certification requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.” Owners relying on the information contained in the label may install incorrect replacement tires, increasing the risk of personal injury. None of the affected motorcycles have been sold to consumers and they will be repaired prior to sale. Therefore, an owner notification letter will not be issued for this campaign. NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 12V592000.

The latest notifications are:

NHTSA Campaign ID Number:  13V211– 2012 and 2013 models – Neutral Gear Light Remains Illuminated

NHTSA Campaign ID Number:  13V180 – 2012 and 2013 models – Incorrect GVWR Data on Label

NHTSA Campaign ID Number:  13V212 – 2012 and 2013 models – Transmission May Pop Out of Gear

NHTSA Campaign ID Number:  13V215 – 2012 and 2013 models – Throttle Cables May Hinder Steering

UPDATED: June 7, 2013 – Another recall just announced.  NHTSA Campaign ID Number: 13V223 2012 and 2013 models – Fuel Tank May Leak.

Owners may contact  your dealer or Triumph at 1-678-854-2010 for more information.

Photo courtesy of Triumph

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Random-CheckpointIn Oregon non-DOT motorcycle helmets are ALLOWED by definition under ORS 801.366.  See page #59 (HERE).

Independent of your views on the usage of these helmets, many riders would agree that motorcycle-ONLY safety checkpoints are inappropriate.  Yet in spite of the activism and involvement from the motorcycle community to stop or prohibit federal funds for motorcycle-ONLY checkpoints the progress hasn’t always been favorable.

Case in point is the Court of Appeals for the New York Second Circuit which backed roadblocks for the purpose of issuing motorcycle citations.

The back story is that in 2007, the New York State Police began using federal taxpayer grant money to target these motorcyclists with the stated objective “to detect motorcycle safety violations and ensure proper registration and operator compliance with New York State’s motorcycle license requirements.  The first roadblock was set up on October 7, 2007 to hit participants returning from a motorcycle rally nearby in Connecticut. Signs were posted on Interstate 84 ordering motorcycle riders to “exit ahead” while a uniformed police officer directed traffic into a rest area. From there, a total of 280 motorcyclists were detained and forced to undergo “full-blown inspections” that generated 104 traffic tickets. The most common citation was for improper helmet.

In 2008, a total of 17 roadblocks were held, detaining 2278 motorcyclists who were issued 600 tickets for infractions that had nothing to do with safety. Another 365 citations were issued for use of an unapproved helmet. Several detained bikers sued the state police after they were detained 45 minutes or more.

In U.S. District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe rejected the motorcyclists’ argument that the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures applied to this case.  To get around the constitutional need for individualized suspicion of wrongdoing before a seizure, courts have created a “special needs” doctrine that allows roadblock programs serving a particular government need.

In this situation, the state produced statistics that showed motorcycle fatalities dropped 17 percent in the same year that motorcycle helmet ticketing increased 2175 percent, and Judge Sharpe agreed this was proof that the roadblock’s primary purpose was safety. The courts then must balance whether the government need to enhance safety is greater than the interference with individual liberty.

The appellate judges agreed with the lower court’s analysis that it was:  “Applying this balancing test, we conclude that the well catalogued public interest in highway safety is well served by the safety checkpoint program and outweighs the interference with individual liberty in this case,” the second circuit ruled in a brief, summary opinion. “Accordingly, the district court did not err in concluding that there was no constitutional violation.” A copy of the summary order of November 29, 2012 is at: Wagner v. Sprague (US Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 11/29/2012).

I choose to wear a DOT approved helmet, but I dislike discriminatory checkpoints.  Have you been to the Laughlin River Run lately and rode out to Oatman, Arizona on the Oatman-Topock Highway?  How about return to the hotel from a concert at the Buffalo Chip during Sturgis week?  Random LEO check points are the norm.  Officers invade your personal space to check for alcohol.

Could Oregon be next to implement similar “safety” initiatives?  Hopefully not, but you might recall that at an ABATE rally in Olympia, WA a few years ago it become a photo op for “profiling” riders and law enforcement writing down license plate information (video HERE).  In 2011, Governor Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5242  which outlaws profiling of motorcyclists and earlier this year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California Bill AB 1047 which outlaws motorcycle only checkpoints.

If motorcycle only checkpoints raise your blood pressure then write or ride to the Oregon capitol in February and talk to your state legislators.  Explain to them that there is no reason why anybody in any state should be profiling any particular group including motorcyclists and you want them to stop it.

Photo courtesy Doug Chanco.  The 2012 Biker Rally at the Capitol HERE.

UPDATE:  Added the link to Oregon helmet law history HERE.

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Reminiscent of the sly wizard in Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz, chances are most people have probably never heard of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) program manager of motorcycle safety and safety standards, Michele O’Leary.

Who is Michele O’Leary?   A person who wants you to wear a helmet and protective clothing.  The person who manages the motorcycle endorsement funds and determines how it gets allocated.  But wait there’s even more…

The Statesman Journal has an interesting interview with O’Leary and it provides insight on the person behind the curtain.

First off, O’Leary came to the job with a motorcycle endorsement and owns a motorcycle!  It’s good to be able to relate to rider issues and in my book this was a step ahead of the Harley-Davidson CEO (Keith Wandell) when he was hired last year with neither.   As a member of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on motorcycle safety, O’Leary has the inside track and has been successful in getting legislation changed to increase fines/penalties on certain types of infractions deemed safety oriented.  Is that good?

I became acquainted with O’Leary as part of my safety rants back in April to do anything and everything to encourage the use of the States variable message signs (VMS) for motorcycle awareness. Those neon signs are peppered across the metro area roadways and provide information about traffic congestion and accident reports and in my little world I thought they would make an excellent public safety reminder for drivers to watch out for motorcycles.  My request was promptly denied and I got “schooled” on the ‘correct’ usage of variable message signs by the ODOT traffic engineers. Previous posts related to this subject matter at: Motorcycle Safety TacticsSpotlight On ODOTWanna Be Policy Makers.

Many might debate that we need to ‘just say no’ to the ever increasing attempts by the government to manage every aspect of our lives through increased regulation.  Others will say it’s a noble cause to help make Oregon motorcycle riders safer.  Read the interview, learn who is looking out for you and judge for yourself…

And finally, if the above wasn’t enough to digest… from the edges of the internet come information about a tornado strikes festival celebrating The Wizard of Oz.

Photo courtesy of Picasa.

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May is Motorcycle Awareness Month.

There are so many interests groups out there these days. Sometimes the noise level and the drum beat volume gets so loud that you can’t determine if they’re about discrimination or empowerment.

As a “wanna-be” policy maker I planned to get more involved in this year’s safety efforts and do more than just sit back and pontificate via this blog that May is the celebratory occasion.   But, sometimes making a difference is harder than you think.  You might recall back in February I blogged about reaching out to the various city and state government entities to advocate the usage of the “Amber Alert signs” during Motorcycle Awareness Month.  My ask was they display the words: LOOK TWICE. SHARE THE ROAD WITH MOTORCYCLES or something to that effect.  I wrote the “Gov”, but I suspect he read one of my previous “Lazy Ted” enough with the higher taxes for the working folk posts and…I got a non response, response?!  I even sent a number of emails to Oregon State Police and ODOT in hopes of getting a positive response, but was shot down in a blaze of blogging glory.  Don’t these people know who I am?  Interestingly OSP has time for a cell phone campaign, but has no enforcement effort tied to Motorcycle Awareness Month.

It’s my view that as these type of issues become more complex, these representatives are not empowered or entrusted to make on-the-fly changes and this becomes problematic whenever public servants are ask to make modifications contrary to the initial intent or it is in question with the letter of the law on sign usage.  Oh well…what seems clear cut and logical to me isn’t to them.  So be it.

But, there is good news!   There will be more visibility this year for motorcyclists because the Motorcycle Safety Program and Vehicle Safety Equipment Program Manager was successful in obtaining billboard placements around the state (see above photo). This is a FIRST in Oregon and the messages will be specifically targeted to make drivers aware of motorcycles.

The billboard placements will be on I-84 @238th, Hwy-97 (somewhere – not sure just yet) and I-5 at Keizer. Unfortunately these billboards won’t go up until June due to advertising timing. It doesn’t sync up with Motorcycle Awareness Month, but June works and is better than nothing.

The are other placements too.  They include: Transit in Portland, Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Eugene and Medford. There will be print and radio ads available to all markets and Water Closet media placements will be at “motorcycle friendly establishments” in Portland and Eugene. There is also web banner logo’s available for groups, organizations, bloggers and motorcycle dealerships to use on their website or blog. All of the placements will be up throughout the summer months, starting in May (except billboard).

All this is coming exclusively from the hard working folks in the ODOT Transportation Safety Division!  A major shout-out to Michele O’Leary for the efforts on this front and helping make Oregon a little safer for motorcycles.

Important to note is the motorcycle rally on the State Capitol that is being sponsored by BikePac this Saturday, May 1st. ODOT’s role is to read the Governor’s Proclamation that May is declared to be Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. The rest of the event is coordinated by BikePac and ODOT is not affiliated with any other part of the event.

Lastly, there is a Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety and if you have the opportunity I am sure they would appreciate hearing from motorcyclists.  Their next meeting is July 16th and you’ll find logistics and email information HERE.  They always have an open spot on the agenda for any motorcycle group, organization or individual to come and speak.

Photo courtesy of ODOT and used with permission.

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mirrorposterIt means – Share the Road with Motorcycles – in support of Harlistas coming out party at Harley-Davidson I thought I try a multi-lingual title. 

You might not know this, but May has long been designated as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Last month (April 2), the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a resolution H. Res. 269 supporting the goals of the Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May.  I wanted to pass along some key messages.

First, is the program encourages riders to get trained and licensed, to always wear protective gear, to not drink and ride and to ride within their limits.  Second, is the message for auto drivers and the need to be alert to motorcycle traffic.  Research shows auto drivers are at fault in approximately 2/3 of fatal car/motorcycle crashes.   Third, that motorcyclists are more susceptible to potential accidents and injuries so drive defensive/aware.

The month of May serves to remind all motorcyclists of the dangers of the road and the fact that other vehicles may have difficulty in seeing us.  Be aware in this upcoming riding season.

Links for more safety information at:

  1. Motorcycle Safety Foundation
  2. Share The Road Campaign
  3. Good Safety Article at Clutch & Chrome
  4. Motorcyclist Advisory Council to the Federal Highway Administration (MAC-FHWA)
  5. National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety
  6. NHTSA Motorcycle Safety Program

Photo courtesy of NHTSA.

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Do you remember the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977?  Designed by the “beltway” no-goodnics which encouraged leaned on financial institutions to lend dollars to people with lower-incomes.  And then under the Clinton administration it was toughened-up with legislation to force Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to give out mortgages to people who would clearly have difficulty paying them – obviously not all federal legislation has the desired effect as witnessed by the current housing and financial crisis.

So being a bit of a skeptic along comes the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration proposal (NHTSA-2008-0157 (.pdf)) for a national helmet law.  Certainly the issue of motorcycle safety surrounds the Helmet Debate.  This debate (often heated and emotional!) revolves around whether federal law should require motorcyclists to wear helmets at all times when riding, or whether the decision to wear or not to wear a helmet should be left up to the individual rider.  We’ve all heard the paternalistic arguments and how the federal government is attempting to regulate an area that should be left to personal choice or left to the states to decide.  On the other hand, helmet law proponents argue that helmets save lives and reduce the risk of injury. 

63% Of Fatalities From 14 States

63% Of Fatalities From 14 States

It’s important to note that in 1975, 47 states required all motorcycle riders to wear helmets; now only 20 do.  Today it’s a real patch-work of helmet laws intermixed with a wide variety of licensing requirements, training courses and safety measures different in every state across the U.S.  It’s a bit of a mess and a motorcycle safety “state-of-the-state” is available HERE (.pdf).  The NHTSA has produced studies showing that death rates jump when helmet laws are repealed, but the laws are state statutes, and the agency is barred by Congress from lobbying states on safety issues.  Likely explains the attempt at a federal mandate.  In addition, there are groups like the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) who do great work advocating motorcycle education and training, but in some states they have persuaded legislatures to relax helmet laws.

I’m not on a mission to try and restrict the freedom of free-wheeling spirits who argue that it’s their heads at risk and their choice to make. This topic is a challenging area to navigate through and difficult to measure the greater value: a small sacrifice of choice, or the lives saved?  My intent is to make you aware of the proposal, provide links and information for you to make an informed decision on whether to support or oppose the national helmet law.  Supply any comments on the proposal HERE.

Chart courtesy of NHTSA.

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