Letter: Anti-motorcycle article biased, uses selective statistics - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Letter: Anti-motorcycle article biased, uses selective statistics

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Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012 8:41 am

As a motorcyclist, I take issue to the recent article attributing Fairwarning.org promoting mandatory helmet laws and motorcycle-only checkpoints. Please post my response to this biased article that describes motorcyclists with a derogatory term.

Fairwarning.org’s statement that it “strives to provide [this] coverage as a non-partisan, non-ideological public service” does not ring true in this story, which cherry picks fatality statistics and discredits rider education.

The federally funded motorcycle crash causation study, conducted by Professor Hugh “Harry” Hurt, Jr., documented the efficacy of rider education. The 1981 report said: “The basic Motorcycle Rider Course of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is effective in training motorcycle riders and those trained riders are both less involved and less injured in motorcycle accidents.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also cited rider education as effective in its 2005 report, “Promising Practices in Motorcycle Rider Education and Licensing.” The report states:

“Although evidence of the effectiveness of rider education on crash reduction is mixed, several studies have shown that trained riders tend to have fewer crashes, less severe crashes, and overall lower cost of damage resulting from crashes.”

Why were these facts left out of this article to provide objective balance?

Furthermore, the article selectively cites statistics to suggest that motorcycle fatalities are on the rise, yet failed to point out that motorcycle sales surged dramatically during the same period, or that motorcycle fatalities dropped 16 percent in 2009 and have stayed relatively flat in 2010 and 2011.

Highlighting Michael Dabbs statement that, “Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill,” displays crassness and editorial bias because there is no evidence that injured motorcyclists are any more likely to be a public burden than other roadway users. A Harborview Medical Center study published in 1988 reported that injured motorcyclists in the trauma center relied on public funds a lower percentage of the time than did automobile drivers to pay their hospital bills during the same time period. Also, a

1992 study by the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center reported that automobile drivers and motorcyclists have their medical costs covered by insurance at a nearly identical rate.

I understand the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) provided this information to the reporter before it published its story. I can only assume that the Fairwarning.org editor selectively edited the copy to fit a preconceived agenda to influence uninformed readers and promote helmet mandates and motorcycle-only checkpoints.

Motorcycle crash prevention should be the overarching policy of our elected officials and the regulatory community. Programs such as rider training and motorist awareness are effective, yet history has taught us that when helmet mandates are enforced, scarce resource dollars are siphoned away from these programs.

I oppose motorcycle-only checkpoints because they target a select group of legal road users simply because we choose to ride on two- or three-wheeled vehicles.

I applaud the courage of legislators who have taken on the powerful anti-motorcycling interest groups that seem less concerned with promoting policies that prevent motorcycle crashes, and more concerned with reducing insurance payments after crashes occur.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my request.

Gary Mankus


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