Profiling thinly concealed under the label of safety - by Chris Maida
As we get closer to spring, motorcyclists — like me —in the northern parts of the country, are looking forward to the promise of another great riding season. However, in many states, particularly New York, motorcyclists also face the unpleasant prospect of profiling thinly concealed under the label of safety. I’m very disappointed that the federal agency entrusted with making our public roads safe for all motorists is not only supporting the profiling of motorcyclists, it’s offering a handful of states our tax dollars to increase the use of checkpoints targeting only motorcyclists.
In my opinion, if the government is truly interested in our safety the NHTSA should do a study on how to make our presence more apparent to motorists who never seem to see us until they have run us over and/or off the road. On streets that are becoming increasingly dangerous to us thanks to a plethora of gadgets to look at and talk on inside the modern automobile, being heard, as well as seen, seems to me to be a natural addition in the move to improve our safety. For evidence I quote the most often heard statement uttered after a car/motorcycle accident: “I didn’t see him.” Short of wrapping us in reflective tape and strapping so many flashing lights on our bikes and bodies that we’d rival the Christmas light decorations we saw a couple of months ago, sound would be the next logical addition in the effort to keep us safer.
Unfortunately, motorcycle noise is also a huge sore point with many and the outcry to make bikes quieter is enormous. However, the decibel level increase we need to be safer is not any louder than what motorists and home owners already consider acceptable. Readers of this column know it is my belief that allowing motorcycles to be as loud as a large truck would help announce our presence near a car. Those that have opposed this initiative have stated that sound emanates only to the rear of a bike, but that is not what I have personally experienced. I have no trouble hearing what I call rumble pipes (think a set of Rinehart mufflers) coming up on my right or left when the bike is within 12 feet of my car. Want more evidence? Watch when a large truck is passing a motorist. You’ll usually see his head turn to see where the truck is in relation to him. And true, that is, in part, due to the fact that the truck has the power to hurt him if he gets in its way. Nevertheless, the point is the driver hears the truck as it comes up from the rear, and isn’t that what we need him to do for us?
In closing, I want to thank the AMA for spearheading the campaign against this misguided initiative by the NHTSA. I encourage all who read this to join the AMA and add their voices to this important organization, which is constantly working to protect our right to enjoy our sport, both on and off the road.
See you on the road. – Chris Maida, editor American Iron Magazine