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