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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

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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

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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

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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.

Automated Driving Systems and SMRO Visits

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RIDING FREE FROM DC: Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

­Automated Driving Systems (AKA Autonomous Vehicles)

Late last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a rulemaking process for developing a “Framework for Automated Driving System (ADS) Safety.” As part of the process public comments were solicited by NHTSA. This week the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) submitted a 6-page formal letter outlining our thoughts on the development, testing and deployment of ADS.

Building on past submissions to both Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the MRF laid out important priorities that NHTSA should consider. Some of the main topics the MRF highlights include the need to account for the unique attributes and characteristics of motorcycles, cyber security concerns, liability provisions, the role of individual states, the need for public transparency, threats to the protected communication spectrum and the challenges of regulations keeping pace with this technology.

While ADS has promising potential, the devil will be in the details. How this technology is developed, tested and deployed will impact all Americans. We at the MRF will continue to fight to ensure motorcyclists are included in these discussions.

To read the full letter from the MRF to NHTSA click here.

SMRO Meetings Around the Country

January and February are traditionally the busy season for state motorcyclist rights organizations (SMRO) annual meetings. This year many of those meetings have been rescheduled, held virtually or have unfortunately been cancelled all together. While we know these are difficult times, the MRF remains committed to working with our state partners and participating in these events when possible.

In January, MRF Vice President Jay Jackson travelled to Bowling Green, Kentucky to attend the Kentucky Motorcycle Association/Kentucky Bikers Association Freedom Fighters Forum. Also, that month MRF lobbyist Rocky Fox traveled to Austin, Texas for Texas Bikers Legislative Weekend. This event was sponsored by the Texas Council of Clubs and Independents, Region 1 Texas Defenders and hosted at the Veterans Collective facility.

Both events included a number of speakers and elected officials discussing issues important to all motorcyclists. Elected officials from Kentucky included, Secretary of State Michael Adams, State Senator Jimmy Higdon, staff from U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s office and via video message Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Slider Gilmore from Iowa even made a presentation in Kentucky! The Texas event included a townhall style question and answer with State Senator Drew Springer. Texas also welcomed leaders in the motorcycle rights movement from California, Illinois, New Mexico, New York and Pennsylvania to Austin. Thank you again to the riders in Kentucky and Texas for including the MRF in these events and working hard to deliver results for riders in those states.

If your SMRO has hosted an event in 2021 please submit your pictures and details to communications@mrf.org so we can share them with your fellow riders across the country!

Recall: Rear Brakes On Harley Trikes Could Activate On Their Own

By General Posts

by Sabrina Giacomini from https://www.rideapart.com/

A software issue poses a safety hazard.

The NHTSA has issued a recall by Harley-Davidson on three models of trikes that could potentially present a software issue that could cause the rear brakes to activate on their own. Here are the details.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company has issued a recall on over 12,500 trikes in the United States for a potential brake problem due to a faulty software. The company estimates that roughly one percent of the 12,624 recalled units are actually affected by the problem. The models targeted by this recall are:

  • 2019-2020 Harley-Davidson FLHTCUTG (Classic Ultra Tri Glide)
  • 2020 Harley-Davidson FLHTCUTGSE (CVO Tri Glide)
  • 2019-2020 Harley-Davidson FLRT (Freewheeler)

The three models of Harley trike are equipped with an electro-hydraulic control unit (EHCU) that manages the Trike Traction Control System. The company found that the EHCU could present an error and cause the traction control to respond incorrectly to a faulty rear-wheel speed signal. This could lead to one of the rear brakes to engage on its own and cause the trike to suddenly change direction. The loss of control that could result from it could ultimately cause a crash.

The Harley-Davidson dealers should already be aware of the issue and letters to the owners affected have been sent at the beginning of December. Owners are invited to make an appointment with their Harley-Davidson dealer to have their trike checked. Should the vehicle present the software issue, the system will be updated which should eliminate the error. The service will be provided free of charge.

Should they have any questions or concerns, owners of one of the models involved in the recall are invited to call the Harley-Davidson customer service line at 1-800-258-2464 to have their VIN verified. The company’s internal number for this recall is 0175. Customers are also welcome to address their inquiries to the NHTSA’s hotline service at 1-888-327-4236.

U.S. moving to block California vehicle emissions rules

By General Posts

Two U.S. agencies are preparing to submit for final White House regulatory review a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas standards and declare that states are pre-empted from setting their own vehicle rules, two people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

WASHINGTON: Two U.S. agencies are preparing to submit for final White House regulatory review a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas standards and declare that states are pre-empted from setting their own vehicle rules, two people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

The Environmental Protection Agency in August 2018 proposed revoking a waiver granted to California in 2013 under the Clean Air Act as part of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards through 2025.

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are expected to seek approval to finalize the first portion of the rule dealing with California and other states before completing action on setting yearly fuel efficiency requirements. The plan would not revoke California’s ability to set low-emission vehicle standards that has been in place since 1990, the sources said.

The move comes as President Donald Trump has expressed anger with automakers over the issue. In July, four major automakers, including Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen AG, said they had reached a voluntary agreement with California on fuel efficiency rules.

California and other states had vowed to enforce stricter Obama-era emissions standards, after Trump proposed rolling back the federal rules. Automakers had worried that court battles between state and federal governments could create years of uncertainty for manufacturers.

The plan, also backed by BMW AG and Honda Motor Co Ltd, is more stringent than Trump’s proposal but looser than the Obama-era rule. California, the most populous U.S. state, accounts for about 12% of American vehicle sales, and if the administration recognizes the deal, it would allow automakers to operate under one set of rules.

An administration official said it was close to submitting a rule internally dubbed the “One National Program rule” aimed at ensuring a single national level for fuel economy standards.

But other automakers, including General Motors Co and Toyota Motor Corp, have declined to back the deal. Mary Nichols, who chairs the California Air Resources Board, told Reuters in July that the four automakers had agreed not to legally challenge California’s vehicle regulatory authority.

Under Trump, federal regulators backed freezing emissions requirements for new cars and trucks at 2020 levels through 2026. Administration officials say its final regulation will include a modest boost in annual efficiency requirements but far less than what the Obama administration had set in 2012.

News Source: Reuters