The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/ ) club is all about motorcycles. Their website has a great deal of information about motorcycle legislation on a federal, state, and local level as well as action alerts, racing events, rallies, and more. The AMA constantly advocates a comprehensive motorcycle safety program and encourages the voluntary use of helmets, gloves, sturdy footwear, and protective clothing while strongly discouraging impaired operation. Interestingly, the AMA opposes mandatory participation in training and compulsory usage of safety equipment. They reason that mandated training and use of safety equipment results in substantially higher costs to the state. And, because of high demand, the delivery of training is often delayed, resulting in the potential to increase the number of unlicensed riders.

Legislatively required motorcycle training raises costs to the states. They would have to increase the number of training sites, provide enough qualified instructors, offer more-frequent training program schedules, and buy more training motorcycles along with the attendant safety equipment-all at a level to meet ever-increasing demand.

One solution to this dilemma is for Congressional expansion of motorcyclist safety grants to states. Research done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that in 2007, 26 percent of motorcyclist fatalities involve untrained and/or unlicensed riders. It has been estimated that in 2010, direct measurable costs of motorcycle crashes are close to $16 billion. While there are various reasons for the crashes, lack of training and licensing is a significant factor.

Moreover, Congress should allow states to use NHTSA grants for motorcyclist training and motorist awareness efforts. Additionally, voluntary motorcycle rider training should be available and allow students to become licensed following the completion of an approved course.

At Wittmer | Linehan we support motorcycle rider education, training, and safety awareness as the number-one way to prevent injuries and deaths from motorcycle accidents.