ABATE Claims Fairwarning.org Article Inaccurate and Insulting

LANSING – American Bikers Aiming Toward Education, or ABATE of Michigan, aims to clarify and correct several points made in a recent article attributing Fairwarning.org which promotes national mandatory helmet laws and motorcycle-only checkpoints.

“The article is biased against motorcyclists and uses derogatory terms to describe more than 560,000 Michigan residents who have a motorcycle license, or endorsement,” said Vince Consiglio, President of ABATE of Michigan. “Articles like these that skew facts and breed misinformation does a great injustice to the people and organizations out there that take motorcycle safety seriously and spend their time and energy to educate new car drivers and motorcycle riders about car/rider safety. Fairwarning.org’s statement that it ‘strives to provide coverage as a non-partisan, non-ideological public service’ does not ring true in this story, which cherry picks fatality statistics and discredits rider education.”

The federally funded motorcycle crash causation study, conducted by Professor Hugh “Harry” Hurt, Jr., documented the efficacy of rider education. The 1981 report said: “The basic Motorcycle Rider Course of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is effective in training motorcycle riders and those trained riders are both less involved and less injured in motorcycle accidents.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also cited rider education as effective in its 2005 report, “Promising Practices in Motorcycle Rider Education and Licensing.” The report states: “Although evidence of the effectiveness of rider education on crash reduction is mixed, several studies have shown that trained riders tend to have fewer crashes, less severe crashes, and overall lower cost of damage resulting from crashes.”

Why were these facts left out of this article to provide objective balance?

Furthermore, the article selectively cites statistics to suggest that motorcycle fatalities are on the rise, yet failed to point out that motorcycle sales surged dramatically during the same period, or that motorcycle fatalities dropped 16 percent in 2009 and have stayed relatively flat in 2010 and 2011.

Highlighting Michael Dabbs statement that, “Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill,” displays crassness and editorial bias because there is no evidence that injured motorcyclists are any more likely to be a public burden than other roadway users. A Harborview Medical Center study published in 1988 reported that injured motorcyclists in the trauma center relied on public funds a lower percentage of the time than did automobile drivers to pay their hospital bills during the same time period. Also, a 1992 study by the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center reported that automobile drivers and motorcyclists have their medical costs covered by insurance at a nearly identical rate.

In the 2009 National Highway Safety Traffic Administration Traffic Safety Facts – Motorcycles, of the 6 states (FL, CA, TX, PA, Ohio, and NY) with the highest motorcyclist fatalities, only two require all riders to wear helmets. However, of the six states with the lowest motorcyclist fatalities, only two require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. The actual Center for Disease Control (CDC) report stated percentages were suppressed for states with fewer than 10 fatalities involving motorcyclists who were not wearing helmets. In 2002, of the six states with the lowest ratios, only Vermont required all riders to wear helmets. Using that ratio as an indicator, for over a decade, the majority of states, with the lowest fatality ratios, allowed the rider to decide when to wear a helmet.

Currently on the NHSTA website is a Cost of Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Crashes, a synopsis of other studies of medical costs between helmeted and non-helmeted motorcycle accident victims. Of eleven studies in the synopisis, the differences range from almost the same, to triple. The 1996 Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System Analysis – Benefits of Safety Belts and Motorcycle Helmets Report – provides several charts comparing helmeted and non-helmeted motorcycle accident victims, with or without brain injuries, and the non-helmeted group had lower medical costs.

ABATE of Michigan has partnered with public schools and private driving instructors to teach more than 75,000 new drivers about motorcycle awareness, using resources donated by ABATE members.

Statistics about Michigan Motorcyclists*

· 36.5 years of age

· Married

· College-educated

· Average income:

o $35,000/yr

o $57,000/yr for members of American Motorcyclists Association

o $80,000/yr for Harley Davidson owners

· Most are insured to operate a vehicle and a motorcycle

· Are responsible law-abiding citizens

· Have passed motorcycle safety courses

· Have experience on the road

· Pay taxes, registration and operating fees

· Capable of making his/her decision about whether or not he/she should wear a helmet

*American Motorcyclist Association


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