THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICE is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. If you’ve been involved in any kind of accident, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.

Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,

National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)

NCOM CONVENTION PUTS THE HEART IN AMERICA’S HEARTLAND

Hundreds of biker’s rights activists from across the country gathered in America’s Heartland to discuss strategies and hear status updates regarding key issues of importance to all concerned motorcyclists, as the NCOM Convention convened July 23-25, 2021 at the Holiday Inn – Airport in Des Moines, Iowa for a weekend of learning, sharing and camaraderie.

From First Aid to traffic stops, this year’s NCOM Convention addressed legal, legislative and lifesaving topics, including a featured presentation on “The Demise of Gas-Powered Vehicles” by the NCOM Legislative Task Force that explored existential threats to our sport and lifestyle.

Other informative seminars included “Insurance Law and the Big Fight” during the A.I.M. Attorney Conference along with a “Biker’s View of the Law” talk by NCOM Public Relations Liaison Bill Bish, and “Protect Your Privacy & Probable Cause” by A.I.M. Attorney Joey Lester.

The Silver Spoke Awards Banquet honored Darrin Brook, Vice President of ABATE of Florida, with the Silver Spoke Award for Media; Michigan A.I.M. Attorney Dondi Vesprini for Legal, and in a stirring dedication, Boar, NCOM Board of Directors Club Liaison, presented the Ron Roloff Lifetime Achievement Award, NCOM’s highest honor, to former EMS Dick “Slider” Gilmore, SOS for his lively and life-saving “Two Wheel Trauma” first responder presentations across the country over the years.

NCOM Board Chairman James “Doc” Reichenbach adjourned with a reminder that next year’s NCOM Convention is scheduled for June 23-25, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee, so check back at www.ON-A-BIKE.com for further details as they develop.

STURGIS BIKE WEEK “BUSIEST IN YEARS”

After a dip in average attendance during 2020, due primarily to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the 81st annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has been one of the busiest in recent memory, report officials at the event.

“There are more people here than in the 31 years I’ve been doing this,” Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin told the Rapid City Journal.  Sturgis Public Information Officer Christina Steele said officials have heard the rally numbers could reach the 2015 record level of more than 700,000 attendees.

Public health officials have been raising Coronavirus-related concerns about the rally since before it started, particularly with the more contagious delta variant spreading across the U.S., but South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R), who rode to the rally, baulked at the analysis, calling ‘super-spreader’ fears “fiction.”

BAD DRIVING POST-LOCKDOWN

When the Coronavirus outbreak shut down the country last year, highways emptied out as many people holed up at home.  But those who got behind the wheel engaged in riskier behavior, leading to the deadliest year for U.S. traffic crashes in over a decade.

Traffic data indicates the higher death toll was related to higher average speeds in conjunction with more of those on the roads driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and a slight decline in seatbelt use.

The outcome was grim.  About 38,680 people died in vehicle crashes in the U.S. last year — the highest number since 2007, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Despite fewer cars on the road, fatalities also increased among motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians, even as the number of miles driven nationwide dropped by 13.2% compared to 2019.

In the end, traffic deaths nationwide in 2020 grew about 7.2%, and based on preliminary data from the first three months of this year, 2021 has the potential to be even worse.

The recent rise in speeding and deadly crashes has been seen in all regions of the country.

“Some of the drivers on the road seemed to feel traffic laws no longer applied during the pandemic because of the decrease in commuter traffic volume,” said Sgt. Blake White, a spokesperson for the Colorado State Patrol.

As drivers have trickled back onto the highways, they’ve had to adjust to sharing space with others after a year of open roads.  One result has been increased road rage and other aggressive behaviors; Sgt. White told CNN.

Preliminary data show the U.S. saw an estimated 9,420 traffic deaths during the first three months of 2021, according to the National Safety Council, up 10% over the same period in 2020 and up 12% compared to 2019.

FUEL PRICES SOAR OVER SUMMER

As Americans hit the road this summer, they are finding a nasty surprise: high gas prices.

According to Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, gas prices in some states are at their highest level since 2014, while others are at their highest since 2018.

The national average fuel price this August runs about $3.18 per gallon — 43% higher than this time last year.

The highest ever gas price average $4.11 on July 17, 2008, according to AAA.

Gasoline demand is also nearing pre-pandemic levels.  But this year, the rise in gas prices doesn’t just come from demand, the issue lies with a shortage of truck drivers.

California is reported to have the highest gas price across the nation, followed by Hawaii, Nevada, Washington and Oregon.

SENATE PASSES HIGHWAY BILL WITHOUT MOST MOTORCYCLE PROVISIONS

The U.S. Senate passed their version of the Highway Bill 69-30 on August 10, a $1.2 trillion 2,000+ page Infrastructure measure to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, but lacking the motorcycle-friendly provisions of the previously-passed House version, including only the reestablishment of the Motorcyclists Advisory Council (MAC).

The House Highway Bill contains several key provisions benefiting motorcycle riders; such as expanding prohibitions on motorcycle-only checkpoints, prohibiting law enforcement activities that profile motorcycle operators, evaluating biker profiling by law enforcement, specifies that motorcycles must be considered in autonomous vehicle operation, allocates increased motorcyclist safety funding, and reauthorizes the MAC at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Typically, the Highway Bill would be taken up by a conference committee of both chambers to iron out any differences before sending a final compromise measure to the President for his signature or veto, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that they will not take up the bill until the Senate passes a separate, even more ambitious $3.5 trillion social policy bill.

It could take months for Congress to pass both measures, if ever, but the current surface transportation bill expires on September 30 unless the deadline is extended.

FEDS LAUNCH BROAD INVESTIGATION INTO AUTOPILOT ACCIDENTS

U.S. regulators have launched the biggest investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot software since the driving-assistance technology was introduced, investigating a string of collisions with emergency vehicles that resulted in numerous injuries and at least one fatality.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced its Office of Defect Investigations opened the official review on August 13 to look into 11 crashes across 9 states involving Teslas hitting vehicles at “first responder scenes.”  An estimated 765,000 vehicles produced between 2014 and 2021, including every Tesla model, are covered in the investigation.

It will “assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation,” NHTSA said.  The investigation will assess the effectiveness of the system’s “Object and Event Detection and Response” and circumstances under which Autopilot is designed to be functional.

The probe adds to the pressure on Tesla following a series of safety investigations in China this year and as regulators around the world grow increasingly concerned about nascent autonomous driving technology.

CALIFORNIA ADOPTS ANTI-PROFILING RESOLUTION

California’s state Senate has passed Senate Resolution 41 by a vote of 39-0 on July 12 to “promote increased public awareness on the issue of motorcyclist profiling.”

Introduced by state Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), SR-41 “encourages collaboration and communication between the motorcycle community and local and state law enforcement agencies to engage in efforts to end motorcycle profiling,” and further “urges state law enforcement officials to include statements condemning motorcycle profiling in written policies and training materials.”

Motorcycle profiling is defined as “the illegal use of the fact that a person rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle-related apparel as a factor in deciding to stop and question, take enforcement action, arrest, or search a person or vehicle with or without legal basis under the Constitution of the United States.”

VIRGINIA TO STUDY LANE-FILTERING

When House Bill 1236 to permit “lane-filtering” stalled last year on a 3-3 tied vote in subcommittee, Virginia Senator David Marsden (D-Fairfax Co.), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, requested the state’s department of motor vehicles to commission a stakeholder study on the possibility of motorcycle lane-filtering.

“Several meetings will take place between now and the end of the year, at which point the DMV will issue a report to Senator Marsden,” said Scott Schloegel of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) who will be participating in the study.  “We’re seeing more states taking an interest in what California has allowed for decades.  Oregon’s governor recently vetoed a bill to allow lane-filtering and not long ago, Montana’s legislature passed a bill allowing it.”

HB-1236 proposed to allow lane-filtering — riding between cars — when traffic is moving at 10 mph or slower and the riders are traveling at 20 mph or less.

“We hope the study will show that lane filtering is an accepted safe practice in not only a few states here, but also many countries in the rest of the world,” observed John Bilotta, Operations Director for ABATE of Virginia and NCOM Board Member, in reporting on the study at the recent NCOM Convention in Des Moines.

IMS NYC CANCELLED DUE TO COVID RESTRICTIONS

2020 was a strange and stressful year when most motorcycle shows were canceled.  But if 2020 was the year of cancellation, 2021 has so far been a year of uncertainty, as this entire year has a caveat that events may be changed and/or canceled at any time.

CoViD strikes again, as the Progressive IMS Outdoors New York City stop will not be happening this year, as announced via Instagram and Facebook; “As a result of the state of New York’s recent decision to enforce proof of vaccination and rapid testing for public events of scale, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the New York event.”

It then goes on to say that International Motorcycle Show organizers believe that the other events on the 2021 schedule will remain intact, not because of anything to do with the virus but because their other venues have “less restrictive health and safety mandates.”

QUOTABLE QUOTE:  “The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children.”

~ William Thomas Havard (1889-1956), Welsh WWI military chaplain

ABOUT AIM / NCOM: The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is a nationwide motorcyclists rights organization serving over 2,000 NCOM Member Groups throughout the United States, with all services fully-funded through Aid to Injured Motorcyclist (AIM) Attorneys available in each state who donate a portion of their legal fees from motorcycle accidents back into the NCOM Network of Biker Services (www.ON-A-BIKE.com / 800-ON-A-BIKE).