On November 22nd, American Motorcyclist Organization Vice President for Government Relations Wayne Allard sent a letter to Center for Disease Control Director Tom Frieden asking, “Is it the goal or strategy of the CDC to reduce the use of motorcycle – a legal mode of transportation – by recommending and pursuing a federal helmet law?”
The AMA is not alone in questioning both the knowledge and mandate of the CDC and it’s Community Preventive Services Task Force to rule over motorcycling safety. Since riding motorcycles is a legal means of transportation – and not an illness requiring a cure – U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) sent a letter with the same overriding concern the day prior to the AMA letter.
These concerns raised by Allard and Walberg arose from the October meeting of the task force in which a slide in a presentation “link[ed] the adoption of universal helmet-use laws to a potential reduction in motorcycle riding, which would help meet the CDC’s goal to reduce injuries and fatalities.”
Allerd’s letter stated, “With the safety of motorcyclists the utmost priority of the AMA, we are willing to work with all stakeholders, including the CDC, to promote rider education and training, as well as motorist awareness programs. These are effective strategies to reduce motorcycle crashes from ever occurring. Whereas, universal motorcycle helmet laws do nothing to prevent crashes.”
The AMA has a long history of advocating helmet use and rider education over government intervention in the decision by adults as to whether they should or should not wear a helmet. The AMA believes the effort to increase motorcycle safety should come in the form of “voluntary rider education, improved licensing and testing, and expanded motorist awareness programs.” Unlike educational programs, mandatory helmet laws do not prevent motorcycle accidents but, rather, try to minimize the effects of those crashes.
A FAQ about the question of whether the CDC wants to reduce motorcycle ridership was prepared by the AMA and posted on its website.