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National Roadway Safety Strategy Announced

By General Posts

Thursday afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced a new national road safety campaign. The plan, known as the “National Roadway Safety Strategy,” comes in response to increased year over year fatalities on our nation’s roadways. In 2020, an estimated 38,680 people died as a result of a motor vehicle crash. Of those, approximately 9% were motorcyclists’ fatalities.

What is most alarming about the increase in fatalities, is that the total number of miles traveled on our roads decreased during the pandemic. Americans traveled 13.2% less miles in 2020 than we did in 2019, but we saw a 7.2% increase in deaths.

The preliminary numbers for the first 6 months of 2021 are also troublesome. From January through the end of June 2021 an estimated 20,160 people died in crashes. That is the largest number of projected deaths in that time frame since 2006.

To combat this trend the plan outlines five key objectives:

  • Safer People: Encourage safe, responsible behavior by people who use our roads and create conditions that prioritize their ability to reach their destination unharmed.
  • Safer Roads: Design roadway environments to mitigate human mistakes and account for injury tolerances, to encourage safer behaviors, and to facilitate safe travel by the most users.
  • Safer Vehicles: Expand the availability of vehicle systems and features that help to prevent crashes and minimize the impact of crashes on both occupants and non-occupants.
  • Safer Speeds: Promote safer speeds in all roadway environments through a combination of thoughtful, context-appropriate roadway design, targeted education, and outreach campaigns, and enforcement.
  • Post-Crash Care: Enhance the survivability of crashes through expedient access to emergency medical care, while creating a safe working environment for vital first responders and preventing secondary crashes through robust traffic incident management practices.

The recently passed infrastructure bill has components and funding to help achieve some of these goals. For example, $14 billion in new funding was specifically allocated for road safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also announced plans this week to increase the data it collects on crashes. The agency wants to boost the number of crashes investigated and add additional studies that examine crashes involving medium-duty trucks, pedestrians, and workers who are hit on the road.

We at the Motorcycle Riders Foundation are encouraged to see that the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking a complete view of traffic safety, incorporating multiple factors to make our roadways safer. We also remain committed to the theory of crash avoidance, as a crash that doesn’t happen is always safer than one that does.

To get more detail and read the 41 page report click here.

About Motorcycle Riders Foundation: The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) provides leadership at the federal level for states’ motorcyclists’ rights organizations as well as motorcycle clubs and individual riders.
See website at: http://mrf.org/

Oregon governor blocks motorcycle ‘lane splitting’ bill

By General Posts

by Sara Cline from https://www.sfgate.com

Earlier this month, Oregon lawmakers passed a bill that would allow motorcyclists to drive between slow or stopped traffic.

However, despite bipartisan approval and hundreds of letters of written testimony — overwhelmingly in favor of the “lane splitting” legislation — Gov. Kate Brown this week vetoed the measure, citing public safety concerns.

“I have several concerns with the bill as currently drafted, particularly related to public safety and noncompliance,” Brown said in a Wednesday letter to the state Senate president and House speaker, which was obtained by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Senate Bill 574 would have permitted motorcyclists to drive between lanes, on multilane highways, when traffic slowed to 10 mph (16 kph) or less — also known as “lane splitting” or “lane filtering.” In this situation, motorcyclists riding between cars could travel no more than 10 mph faster than the flow of traffic.

States like California and Utah have enacted similar laws.

While this idea concerned some drivers, motorcyclists argued lane splitting actually improves safety.

“Perhaps one of the more dangerous situations for any on-highway motorcyclist is being caught in congested traffic, where stop-and-go vehicles, distracted and inattentive vehicle operators and environmental conditions pose an increased risk of physical contact with another vehicle or hazard,” Nicholas Haris, a representative for the American Motorcyclist Association, said in written testimony. “Even minor contact under such conditions can be disastrous for motorcyclists.”

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, in 2018, the most recent data available, there were 78 deadly motorcycle crashes in the state.

“I have witnessed — during rolling traffic slowdowns on the Southern California freeway — motorcyclists cautiously, slowly and effectively moving through traffic and eliminating themselves from the traffic backup,” Kate Stoller, an Oregon motorcyclist, said in written testimony.

In Utah, legislation passed in 2019 allows for lane filtering. Prior to the law, in 2018 the state had 28 fatalities involving motorcyclists. The following year it reported 18.

Proposals to allow lane splitting have been introduced repeatedly in Oregon but stalled in the Legislature. This year the bill had a bipartisan group of sponsors from both chambers. In the House the bill passed 42-14, and in the Senate it passed 18-6.

But some disagreed that the bill would make roads safer — the latest being Oregon’s governor.

“Many stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies and members of the public remain concerned that lane filtering is unsafe for both the motorcyclists and the drivers sharing the road, due to the serious injuries and death that commonly result from motorcycle-involved accidents,” Brown wrote.

“Based on these concerns, I am returning SB 574 unsigned and disapproved,” the governor wrote.

A legislative override of her veto would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

E-scooter injuries in US jump 222% in 4 years

By General Posts

According to a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study, electric scooter-related injuries in the US jumped 222 per cent between 2014 and 2018, with over 39,000 people injuring themselves.

San Francisco: E-scooters may have become popular as more people are becoming aware of its benefits and convenience, but there has been a major surge in incidents of injuries related to scooters, particularly among young adults in the US.

According to a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study, electric scooter-related injuries in the US jumped 222 per cent between 2014 and 2018, with over 39,000 people injuring themselves.

The number of hospital admissions soared by 365 per cent to a total of nearly 3,300, according to the UCSF study.

“E-scooters are a fast and convenient form of transportation and help to lessen traffic congestion, especially in dense, high-traffic areas,” Benjamin N. Breyer, MD, a UCSF Health urologist and corresponding author, said in a statement.

The rise in the spate of such incidents was also due to the lack of helmets; almost a third of injuries involved some kind of head trauma.

Nearly a third of the patients suffered head trauma — more than twice the rate of head injuries to bicyclists.

About a third of the e-scooter injuries were to women, and people between the ages of 18 and 34 were the most often injured for the first time in 2018.

“But we’re very concerned about the significant increase in injuries and hospital admissions that we documented, particularly during the last year, and especially with young people, where the proportion of hospital admissions increased 354 per cent,” Breyer added.

The UCSF team had previously looked at bicycle injuries using the same data set and found scooter riders had a higher proportion of head injuries, which was also identified in this study.

Motorised scooters have become more ubiquitous in the last few years, particularly within the US’ biggest cities and suburbs, health officials and medical experts across the country grew increasingly alarmed by the number of fractures, dislocations and head injuries appearing in trauma centres.

Regulatory oversight is largely absent about where people can ride scooters and whether helmets are mandatory: Previous research showed that only a fraction of injured e-scooter riders (ranging from 2 per cent to about 5 per cent) wore helmets when they were hurt.