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.

NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES

Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,

National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)

NCOM CONVENTION — MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

The 35th annual NCOM Convention in Indianapolis, originally planned for Mother’s Day weekend at the Marriott Indianapolis East (7202 East 21st Street), has been rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic to October 16-17, 2020 at the same location, so SAVE THE DATE and make your plans now to attend one of the largest and most informative bikers’ rights gatherings in the world.  More information to follow…

RIDING BACK FROM COVID-19

All 50 states are now in various stages of reopening, and along with restrictions being lifted and the COVID-19 curve flattening, hopes for more normalcy are high; and none higher than amongst the motorcycling community.

Most industries have been hit hard by the global pandemic, and motorcycle sales and production have been among the most impacted, with factories shut down, dealerships closed, events cancelled or postponed, and even ridership restricted in many parts of the world.

Rules around travel and mixing in groups are being relaxed because new infections of the Coronavirus are declining and within the capabilities of the health system to cope, and soon groups will be able to ride together again, and gather at their local watering holes, maintaining social distancing and observing other safety protocols, of course.

Around the globe, motorcycle manufacturers and the supply chain are reopening production, shops and dealerships are doing business within certain constraints, and bikers are realizing a late-Spring bloom amid the gloom.

Harley-Davidson is reopening its U.S. factories in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and will accelerate production in phases, launching a new five-year strategic plan to revive sales.

Looking forward, the landscape is changing, as major events are planning comebacks.  Americade in Lake George, NY, after much deliberation, has decided to move their dates from June to July 21-25.  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina’s spring Bike Week and Atlantic Beach Bikefest have been postponed, with Horry County leaders giving their blessing to a July motorcycle rally date.  Laconia Motorcycle Week, America’s “Oldest Running Motorcycle Rally,” has officially postponed their 97th annual event in Weirs Beach, NH, to August 22-30, following a unanimous decision by their city council.  The 80th annual Sturgis Rally in South Dakota is still on track for August 7-15 as experts predict COVID-19 will have peaked and continue into decline before the end of the summer.

Speaking of ‘track’, the MotoGP World Championship racing calendar is expected to drop the checkered flag in July, adapting to a new format of hosting motorsports events with minimal staff and without spectators, while employing social distancing where possible.

WASHINGTON STATE EXPANDS PROTECTIONS FOR “VULNERABLE ROAD USERS”

A new law in Washington protects pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and other “vulnerable roadway users” from careless motorists who cause serious injury or death.

Senate Bill 6045: “Concerning vulnerable users of a public way,” was passed unanimously by the state legislature (45-0 in the Senate on Feb 12, and 97-0 in the House on Mar 6) and signed into law on March 25 by Governor Jay Inslee (D), becoming effective June 11, 2020.  If convicted, a negligent driver could face penalties up to $5,000 in fines and have their driving privileges suspended for ninety days.

TRAFFIC FATALITIES DECREASE FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) early estimates of 2019 Motor Vehicle Traffic Data show reduced fatalities for the third consecutive year.  According to preliminary estimates for the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 2019 data on highway crashes demonstrate a continued decline in traffic fatalities.  The nation saw a decline in traffic deaths during 2018 and 2017, and these newest estimates suggest a continuing decline in traffic-related deaths.

“Safety is our top priority so this report that traffic fatalities appear to have decreased again for the third year is great news,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Fatalities decreased in most major traffic safety categories:

Drivers (down 3%)

Passengers (down 4%)

Motorcyclists (down 1%)

Pedestrians (down 2%)

Pedalcyclists (down 3%)

A statistical projection of traffic fatalities for 2019 shows that an estimated 36,120 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, representing an estimated decrease of about 440 (down 1.2%) from the reported 36,560 fatalities in 2018, even though Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) increased by 0.9%.  As a result, the fatality rate for 2019 was 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT, down from 1.13 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2018.  If these estimates are reflected in the final data, the fatality rate per 100 million VMT would be the second lowest since NHTSA started recording fatal crash data.

IN-CAR INFOTAINMENT SYSTEMS MORE DANGEROUS THAN TEXTING OR ALCOHOL

For a few years now, most new cars have come with high-tech, flashy infotainment systems that can control everything from the stereo, air conditioning, and even seating position, but a recent European study has determined that car infotainment systems can be as detrimental to a driver’s reaction times as texting, alcohol and even cannabis are.

Among the results, IAM RoadSmart found that motorway stopping distances were increased by between four and five car lengths when the driver was using infotainment systems.  The study also found that drivers took their eyes off the road for as long as 16 seconds while driving (equivalent to a distance of nearly 550 yards at 70 mph), while using the touch-controlled systems — results that are even worse than texting at the wheel.

Among the key findings from the report;

– Controlling the vehicle’s position in the lane and speed suffered significantly when participants failed to react to stimulus on the road ahead.

– Reaction times were slower when selecting music through Spotify while using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

– Drivers would take their eyes off the road for longer than 12 seconds.

– Participants underestimated time spent looking away from the road, by as much as 5 seconds.

“We’re now calling on industry and government to openly test and approve such systems and develop consistent standards that genuinely help minimize driver distraction,” said Neil Greig, policy and research director at IAM RoadSmart.  “Anything that distracts a driver’s eyes or mind from the road is bad news for road safety.”

ILLINOIS BIKER BAR FIGHTS TO REMAIN OPEN UNDER CORONAVIRUS ORDERS

A popular 24-year old biker bar near Rockford, IL has had enough with Illinois’ stay-at-home order, and has decided to sue Governor JB Pritzker, claiming his executive orders are unlawful.

Like many businesses, Poopy’s Pub & Grub is feeling the economic sting of the pandemic, and after being shut down by local authorities when bikers began congregating on his property this spring while ordering curbside service, owner Kevin Promenschenkel hired a lawyer to make a legal run at the governor’s executive order.

Specifics of the lawsuit, shared by Northwest Herald (nwherald.com) assert that “…he (Governor Pritzker) lacks the statutory authority to issue executive orders putting restrictions on businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore a cease-and-desist order issued to the biker bar as a result of such an order should be voided.”

In addition, only the Carroll County Health Department, acting through the Illinois Department of Public Health, has the “supreme authority” vested by the constitution to shut a business down for health code violations, and it has not done so, according to the suit filed in Carroll County Circuit Court.

HONDA PATENTS EXTERNAL AIRBAGS FOR CARS

While external airbags are not a new idea in the automotive industry, the new system patented by Honda is smarter than just an airbag mounted to the front of a car, and could cut injury rates for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycle riders.

Instead of having just one airbag that deploys automatically in the event of an accident, the new system scans the road looking for a potential hazard. Once located, the system actually measures the target, determining the size, shape, and location in order to deploy the appropriate airbag at the proper pressure for each scenario.  For instance, if a large target is detected, the largest airbag will fire and the bonnet of the car will raise slightly and move backwards, an action designed to help catch the person, rather than bouncing them over the roof of the car.  If a smaller person or child is detected, the airbag deploys at a lower pressure to keep them from bouncing off the car and onto the ground or into traffic.

For motorcyclists, the Honda airbag system could help in certain situations, and ultimately the extra crash protection for us and other vulnerable road users can only be a good thing.

SOUTH DAKOTA CLARIFIES CONCEALED CARRY OF FIREARMS ON MOTORCYCLES

When the state legislature in 2019 passed its concealed carry reform, often referred to as “Constitutional Carry,” making it legal for every South Dakotan eligible to own a firearm to keep it concealed without a permit, it didn’t apply that right to motorcycle riders, snowmobilers and ATV riders. So, this legislative session, state senators and representatives are addressing that oversight to make it clear that motorcyclists can conceal firearms while riding in South Dakota.

“It was brought to our attention that people on motorcycles were having a little trouble with the definitions of law and whether they were allowed to carry concealed,” Rep. Thomas Brunner, (R-Nisland), a sponsor of the measure, testified in support of HB 1094.  “Certainly, our intent wasn’t that once you get on a motorcycle, snowmobile or four-wheeler that the law changes.”

The legislation went on to pass both chambers overwhelmingly (64-4 in the House and 33-2 in the Senate) with the backing of the influential motorcycle lobby group ABATE of South Dakota (A Brotherhood for Awareness, Training and Education), and was signed by Governor Kristi Noem (R) on March 25, 2020.

Dianna Miller, representing ABATE, said left in the state statute, despite passage of last year’s concealed carry legislation, are two provisions that restrict possession of firearms on motorcycles and off-road vehicles. That caused confusion for law enforcement and motorcycle riders, especially during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, she said.

‘NAKED RIDER’ SPURS ATTIRE RULE

A “naked rider” wearing only a helmet and briefs was apprehended by local authorities in metro Manila, Philippines, and for two seconds enjoyed social media fame, which has prompted authorities to revisit an “attire rule” requiring all motorcycle riders to wear heavy/padded jackets and riding pants as it would be safer to ride wearing all the riding gear.

Last year, during a press briefing, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia told reporters that the agency is looking to penalize motorcycle riders, including pillions (passengers), who wear shorts when riding their motorcycles.

The MMDA GM also said that their office met with their counterparts in the LTO (government) to recommend the creation of laws and policies concerning the proper attire for motorcycle riders; “Protective devices shall include: helmets, goggles, leather boots, and protective clothing such as heavy pants, heavy jacket, leather gloves, and rain suit” added GM Garcia.

Local motorcycle groups do not agree with the proposed rule, citing that with the hot, humid tropical weather in the Philippines, requiring motorcycle riders, especially in congested traffic conditions, to wear heavy jackets and pants may do more harm than good.

So far, the laws of the land concerning proper attire for motorcycle riders require only: a standard helmet and closed-toe shoes, but it’s important to note that sometimes stupid is as stupid does, and inappropriate actions such as motorcycling in your skivvies can invite unwanted and unnecessary attention.

QUOTABLE QUOTE: “America has never been perfect.  Freedom never is.”

~ Howard Kurtz (b. 1953), host of Fox News “#Media Buzz”

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).