PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is applauding Congress for funding for the first nationwide motorcycle-crash study in almost 30 years.
U.S. House and Senate conferees agreed to a compromise version of the $286.4 billion transportation bill, which was passed by both chambers late last week, reauthorizing transportation spending through September, 2009.
The bill, which President Bush is expected to sign this week, includes nearly $3 million for a study of motorcycle crashes. It specifies that the research grants be provided to the Oklahoma Transportation Center, located at Oklahoma State University.
"After more than a decade of decline, motorcycling fatalities have increased in recent years, and those increases have prompted endless speculation about the reasons why," said AMA President Robert Rasor. "We're pleased that Congress agrees that we need answers, not theories. We're anxious for the study to begin, to help us understand how to prevent crashes and save lives."
"I'm happy we were able to include the provision providing grants to the Oklahoma Transportation Center for this important study," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "It's an important step in helping to improve motorcycle safety."
"I was pleased to work with the American Motorcyclist Association to update these statistics," said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri), who introduced the motorcycle-study language into the bill. "It has been over 20 years since we last studied what causes motorcycle accidents and now is the time to take another look."
The last comprehensive study on the subject, commonly called the "Hurt Report" after University of Southern California researcher Dr. Harry Hurt, was published in the 1970s.
The AMA notes that the bill also preserves motorcycles' access to High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, and that it specifies that local governments will continue to be prohibited from excluding motorcycles from roads maintained with federal funds. In addition, the bill calls for motorcycles to be included in research on Intelligent Transportation systems, and makes available $25 million to individual states for motorcycle-safety training and awareness programs.
Off-highway motorcyclists and ATV enthusiasts will benefit from the transportation bill as well, through $370 million in gasoline taxes earmarked for the Recreational Trails Program.