August Motorcycle News

Motorcycle and scooter sales across the nation are booming as drivers look for ways to trim the cost of soaring gas prices, but the rush of inexperienced riders hitting the road has had deadly consequences.

Scooter sales jumped 24 percent nationwide in the year's first quarter, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. The small fuel-efficient vehicles are easy on the mileage and the pocketbook, which has made them wildly popular with gasoline prices surpassing $4 a gallon. Depending on engine size, motorcycles can get between 40 and 60 miles per gallon of gas. Scooters, which tend to be smaller and easier to drive, can reach 100 miles per gallon or more. That's attracting newbies, dealers say, with many new buyers citing the price at the pump as their primary motivation for turning to two-wheel transportation.

Last year, the GHSA asked state highway safety agencies to complete a survey on motorcycle safety activities designed to curb the annual increase in motorcycle crashes.
The surveys revealed "a patchwork of helmet laws," with only nine states and Puerto Rico indicating special efforts to help law enforcement identify helmets that don't meet federal safety standards. Rider training courses have been overly strained due to the influx of new motorcyclists and, as a result, 29 states "indicated they have capacity problems with delays ranging from one day to 12 weeks for training classes. Only three states, Florida, Maine, and Rhode Island require rider education for all riders, regardless of age," according to the association. The report also says many motorcyclists drive without valid licenses: In 2006, 25 percent of operators in fatal motorcycle crashes did not have a valid motorcycle license, compared to 13 percent of drivers of passenger vehicles.


Senate Bill 713, the "Night-time Awareness - Auxiliary Lighting" bill, passed unanimously through the House and Senate, and was signed into law April 8th by Governor Martin O'Malley.

The new law, which went into effect June 1st, addresses the use of LED lights that illuminate the sides of the motorcycle, thus allowing other drivers to see motorcyclists from the side as well as front and rear. The lights cannot be blue or red and cannot blink, flash or oscillate. They can only be directed toward the engine and drive train and are specifically prohibited from being on wheels.

Pat Corcoran, spokesman for ABATE of Maryland, said "Most motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, are almost always the fault of the other vehicle, and usually the comment of the other driver is, we just didn't see him."

The law also allows the use of blue-dot tail lights, which also increases conspicuity in traffic.


Motorcycles will get new onboard warning systems to tell the rider when he's going too fast under proposals unveiled recently at a motorcycle safety conference in Brussels, Belgium. The technology will tell the rider when he's going into a bend too fast or exceeding the speed limit. A "frontal collision warning" system will detect when the bike is too close to an obstacle.

On-road trials of the In-Vehicle Information System technology will begin by 2010 under the European Commission's plans, which are backed by the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA).

The project, called SAFERIDER, "aims to develop devices to improve the comfort and safety of riders through technology such as warning devices to alert the rider of a potential crash or provide information about black (blind) spots or traffic design," according to a FEMA press release, adding that "The decision by FEMA to participate in the SAFERIDER project is because we need to find out if technology can assist a rider to make decisions to avoid collisions or crashes. We need to ensure that the technology being developed can benefit riders - but if doesn't, then we need to be in a position to make our point of view clear."

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