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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

MRF Update: Transportation Funding Unlocked

By General Posts

This week the House and Senate are tackling a self-imposed deadline to pass funding legislation before government departments and agencies run out of money. To avoid a government shutdown, a large omnibus spending bill is being voted on that will fund government operations through the end of September. Importantly for transportation related projects and programs, the omnibus bill unlocks billions of dollars in funding that Washington red tape has delayed.

Lawmakers and transportation officials have been warning for months that full implementation of the $1.5 trillion infrastructure law, which was enacted in November, isn’t possible because government funding is constrained at 2021 levels. So, while the money is actually in the accounts and ready to be spent, transportation agencies are locked out of using a large percentage of the money until this second piece of legislation is enacted.

Only in Washington, D.C. does it take two bills, five months apart, to achieve your policy objectives!

Lawmakers Focus on Tesla
Recently Tesla has come under criticism for its Autopilot and Full-Self Driving (FSD) features, which critics say give the impression to drivers that the vehicles are capable of hands-off operation. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened two investigations into Tesla’s autopilot system and the automaker has launched nearly a dozen recalls in the U.S. Many of those recalls are related to over-the-air updates which allows Tesla to tweak and change its software remotely.

Last month, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to Tesla seeking answers to a series of questions regarding its technology. Included in the letter were questions regarding safety programming, issues related to phantom braking and driver monitoring capabilities.

Tesla responded to the letter last week saying in part, “Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD Capability features enhance the ability of our customers to drive safer than the average driver in the U.S.,”

Senators Blumenthal and Markey seemed less than impressed with Tesla’s response to their questions. In a joint statement they said Tesla’s response was “just more evasion and deflection from Tesla. Despite its troubling safety track record and deadly crashes, the company seemingly wants to carry on with business as usual.”

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation has long been concerned that safety standards for self-driving and autonomous vehicle technology are inadequate. All motorcyclists should remember that these vehicles are on our roadways right now. Remain vigilant while riding, as the operators and perhaps even the manufacturers are not fully aware of what this technology can and cannot do.

To read the initial letter sent to Tesla 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.
Visit Website at: http://mrf.org

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/

MRF update: Highway Bill Passes – a Year Late

By General Posts

November 5, 2021

Highway Bill Passes… a Year Late

After a 13-month delay and enactment of three separate extensions, Congress finally passed a surface transportation reauthorization bill. This bill, sometimes called the highway bill or the infrastructure bill, has been a hotly debated topic in D.C. for several years. Once signed by the President, the bill will reauthorize many highway programs, provide funding for road and bridge construction and replace the previous highway bill passed in 2015, known as the FAST Act.

Just a week ago, Congress gave itself a third extension running into December. Yet election victories by Republican candidates, especially a win by the GOP in the Virginia governor’s race, seems to have spooked Democrats, and motivated passage of a bill that has been awaiting a vote since the summer.

For the last two years, the House of Representatives and Senate have battled over transportation priorities and funding levels. In both 2020 and 2021, the House of Representatives passed versions of their highway bill, only to be rebuffed by the Senate. Under pressure from President Biden, the Senate finally acted, passing in August a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. This action by the Senate, effectively forced the House to accept the Senate version of the bill or continue to pass short term extensions of current law.

However, pressure from the left wing of the Democratic party delayed a vote on the Senate’s infrastructure bill until an unconnected piece of legislation, referred to as the “human infrastructure bill,” was agreed to. That bill, called “Build Back Better,” had an original price tag of $3.5 trillion and effectively held the infrastructure bill hostage. After months of debate, and Tuesday’s election results, House Democrats agreed to vote on a smaller Build Back Better bill later in the month, opening the door to a final vote on the infrastructure bill.

At 11:27pm Friday night, the House agreed to the Senate’s bill and passed a $1.2 trillion 5-year highway bill, known as the INVEST ACT. The final vote in the House was 228 to 206, with 13 Republicans voting in favor and 6 Democrats voting against.

BENEFITS TO BIKERS

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.

Visit MRF Website at: https://mrf.org/

NHTSA Report on Tesla Crashes

By General Posts

MRF Flash Alert – Tesla Crashes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wrote, in a document released Monday, that it has identified 11 crashes since 2018 in which a Tesla vehicle using the company’s driver assistance system, struck one or more vehicles involved in an emergency response situation. Four of those crashes occurred in 2021.

NHTSA now plans on studying the Advanced Driver Assistance System, otherwise known as “autopilot,” in the nearly 765,000 Tesla vehicles produced between 2014 and 2021.

For several years, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), in cooperation with our state motorcyclist rights partners, have warned of the need for increased oversight of this new technology. Allowing vehicles to be deployed on our nation’s roadways, that cannot adequately detect and respond to all roadway users, is dangerous. Regulators and auto manufacturers should work together to ensure tragic crashes, like the ones found in this report, never happen again.

To read the brief report from NHTSA on the Tesla crashes click here.

About MRF: http://mrf.org

Harley-Davidson recalls over 31,000 motorcycles

By General Posts

by Rich Kirchen from https://www.bizjournals.com

Harley-Davidson voluntarily recalls over 31,000 motorcycles over potential headlamp failure

Harley-Davidson Motor Co. said it is voluntarily conducting a safety recall involving the headlamp shields on certain model year 2019 through 2021 Sportster models.

The recall includes over 31,000 Harley-Davidson Sportsters on which the headlights could fail, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents reported on autoblog.com. The recall also includes fewer than 1,000 headlight assemblies possibly sold as replacement parts on the Sportster from 2005 to 2019, the Softail and Dyna from 2005 to 2017 and the V-Rod from 2005 to 2011.

“This is a voluntary recall announced by Harley-Davidson in the interest of our customers’ safety and satisfaction with our motorcycles,” a Harley-Davidson spokesperson told the Milwaukee Business Journal Wednesday via email. “The service will be performed at no cost to customers.”

Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) said it will begin notifying customers on or about Wednesday. Customers with the motorcycles should contact an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer to schedule an appointment for the service, the company said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents reviewed by autoblog.com state that the headlight assembly on the vehicles has a shield over the headlight bulb. That bulb shield can cause the bulb itself to get hot in the wrong areas and potentially develop a hole and burn out the filaments inside, making the light useless.

There have been no reports of crashes or injuries related to this issue, according to NHTSA documents.

The entire motorcycle isn’t being recalled; it is the headlamp shield that is actually being voluntarily recalled, the company spokesperson said.

The company’s solution involves replacing the shield in these headlight assemblies to ensure the issue doesn’t come up, autoblog.com said.