The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has issued a press release that praises the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for its call to Congress for changes in motorcycle safety.

The GAO’s recommendation basically breaks down into two points: 1) Congress should give states more flexibility in the way they use funds that have been earmarked to tackle motorcycle safety, and 2) that the NHTSA should provide states with more comprehensive information about motorcycle crashes and injuries.

The second point is perhaps the most important, as it has become painfully obvious that the government, both at the state and federal level, has little concrete information about the causes of motorcycle crashes and injuries.

While we are still using information collected almost 40-years-ago from the Hurt Report, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has contended that the motorcycle landscape has changed so significantly in that timeframe that the Hurt Report was conducted that it no longer accurately quantifies the dangers and conditions present for motorcyclists.

A follow-up report by the Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma Transportation Center was to be the next iteration of the Hurt Report, but after it became apparent that the study would examine only 300 crash scenarios (the Hurt studied 900, while Europe’s MAIDS report covered 921 crashes), questions were raised about the study’s actual statistical significance (the NHTSA says 1,200 crashes would be a more suitable number).

At the end of the day, there still remains a void and desire for a modern meaningful analysis of motorcycle safety that government agencies can then use to make better motorcycle-related policy regarding licensing structures, helmet laws, traffic analysis, road maintenance, etc.

The GAO’s first point then expands on the issue saying that states, not the federal government, should then be given the power to address the issues found in a comprehensive motorcycle safety report — a conclusion that is unsurprisingly backed by the GHSA, a group that is comprised of state-level officials. A bit of politicking, leaving such power up to the states could lead to more incongruence on issues, like mandatory helmet laws.

Will a proper modern motorcycle safety report ever be conducted? Only time will tell. A press release by the GHSA is below, click here to see the full text of the GSA’s report.

Press Release by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA):

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its recent evaluation of federal and state efforts to address motorcycle safety. GHSA strongly supports the recommended changes, as these would lead to a more effective approach to this issue.

First, GAO suggests that Congress give states more flexibility in their use of federal highway safety funds to more broadly address the complex issue of motorcycle safety. Currently, states can spend these funds only on motorcyclist training and raising motorist awareness of motorcycles. States should be able to use their federal funds to support motorcycle advisory committees, development of motorcycle safety strategic plans, enforcement of helmet and other motorcycle safety laws, programs to prevent impaired motorcycling and speeding, licensing improvements, and programs to encourage voluntary helmet usage and greater rider conspicuity. GHSA supports a comprehensive approach to motorcycle safety, and we commend GAO for its recognition of the need for this strategy. We urge Congress to incorporate this change during the next transportation reauthorization.

Secondly, GAO recommends that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provide states with information that could better enable them to effectively reduce motorcyclist crashes and injuries. GAO encourages NHTSA to conduct research that will resolve outstanding gaps in state knowledge about approaches considered most promising. Specifically, GAO recommends that NHTSA research how to encourage motorcyclists to increase their conspicuity and the value of a graduated licensing model for motorcyclists. GHSA appreciates GAO’s acknowledgement that an increased focus on research is necessary for states to operate effective, data-driven programs. NHTSA is scheduled to release a plan to guide its motorcycle safety research efforts by the spring of 2013. GHSA looks forward to this research roadmap.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association; Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey – All Rights Reserved

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  • David

    Be careful what you ask for.

    The way Government works here in the USA, we will probably get mandated ( Special Interest group inspired) safety equipment like Airbag handlebars, Airbag safety suits, Automatic warning systems on bikes, Rollcages and other totally useless so called safety equipment.

    All designed to increase cost and complexity of motorcycles.

  • anders eliasson

    Here in the US, if we could just take cell phones out of the hands of drivers, shove them up the drivers *ss, and force them to walk around all day like that as a consequence of their inattentive driving, we might reduce the # of accidents overall a considerable amount … :^) …


  • Damo


    Little sensationalist there?

  • Daniel Croft

    More than that Anders, if only we could convince drivers as a whole that driving was worth their attention, we wouldn’t need to take anything out of their hands. That goes for motorcyclists too.

  • MP

    I live and ride in New York City. If you think you’ve seen distracted drivers, you should come here and duel with the cabs! Their MO is to run you off the road to beat you to the next light. It’s really aggravating. It’s as if they don’t know the car they’re driving is a 4,000lb hammer capable of killing riders, pedestrians, pooches and everything else in their way. I mostly stick to the track now because of them.

    A serious driver education campaign focused on sharing the road with motorcycles would be very welcomed and, as you guys point out, the first and most important step to motorcycle safety.

  • red

    I agree w/Anders, Daniel and MP. Most drivers just don’t seem aware of the consequences that could come from not giving the task at hand enough focus. Others don’t care because “it won’t happen” to them.

    A serious driver education campaign focused on sharing the road with motorcycles would be very welcomed and, as you guys point out, the first and most important step to motorcycle safety.

    I agree. The UK has some great programs and commercials, maybe we can get our own versions made for the States?

  • JTB

    Start by removing the cheese grater cables along interstates, then require guard rails to use something other than cut I-beams for support. Both do more damage to motorcycles and in some cases are fatal to cyclists.

  • Faust


    You didn’t know the shadow government is coming to take your motorcycle away? Duh, everyone knows that!

  • Gritboy

    Just give all motorcycles mini guns and we can clear a path to safety!

  • Rob04

    2Things, Here in MA. & R.I. cage drivers couldn’t care less about sharing the road with motorcycles, they would just as soon cut you off and then flip you off rather than get home from work 30 seconds late. 2 IMO the biggest safety hazard we riders face by far these days is texting while driving, You have people who can’t drive worth a damn to begin with now typing as their driving.

  • Damo


    I am with you there. Route 195 from the Cape to Providence is a death run sometimes.