News AMA: Motorcycle-Only Checkpoints Update

AMA: Motorcycle-Only Checkpoints Update

AMA Legislative News

As the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) previously reported, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and some of his colleagues sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The congressional letter urged LaHood to suspend a grant program that would expand the highly criticized practice of creating motorcycle-only checkpoints by law enforcement agencies. The AMA strongly supports this important letter.

The letter had an October 13 deadline. To date, LaHood has not responded to the congressional letter. The AMA sent a follow-up letter, dated Oct. 18, seeking a response. To view the AMA letter, click here.

Along with Sensenbrenner, Reps. Tom Petri (R-WI), Walter Jones (R-NC), Aaron Schock (R-IL), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Paul Ryan (R-WI), Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Lee Terry (R-NE), Ron Paul (R-TX) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) signed the letter.

The program in question is the Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstrations Grant (DTNH22-10-R-00386). Although the grant has been closed to new applicants as of Aug. 13, 2010, you can view the grant notice here.

The AMA has formally questioned the potential discriminatory and legal nature of this program, administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The AMA sent a letter to Administrator Strickland on August 9 urging him to suspend the grant program until questions have been addressed. To date, Strickland has not responded. To contact Strickland and urge him to suspend the grant program, click here.

While law enforcement officials may defend the program as a safety measure to decrease motorcycle crashes, injuries and fatalities, there is no proof of its effectiveness. The practice, first modeled in New York State, has drawn the ire of thousands of motorcyclists nationally.

NHTSA is now seeking up to five other law enforcement agencies, besides the state of New York, to participate in motorcycle-only checkpoints, and is offering $350,000 in federal funding.

The AMA believes that the best way for NHTSA to reduce motorcycle crashes is to employ proven strategies, such as rider education and motorcycle awareness programs, that decrease the likelihood of crashes from ever occurring. These strategies must be research-based. Motorcyclists would be much better served by applying the funding to the national motorcycle crash causation study that is currently underway at Oklahoma State University. This is a sentiment supported by Sensenbrenner and many of his colleagues in Congress through recently introduced H. Res. 1498.

To urge your Representative to support this important resolution, click here.

Again, please send a prewritten message to LaHood asking him to respond to the congressional letter that urges him to suspend federal dollars from being used to expand programs that discriminate against motorcyclists.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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