Say what you will about American politics, but the US House of Representatives has passed the “SELF-DRIVE Act” (H.R. 3388) – a bipartisan bill that would open up autonomous vehicle regulation for manufacturers.
The big advantage of the SELF-DRIVE Act is that it would supersede the varying and ad hoc state rules that manufacturers must currently adhere to while developing their autonomous platforms.
The bill would also do away with some safety standards put in place for vehicles with drivers, such as where the steering wheel and foot pedals must be located.
Lastly, the SELF-DRIVE Act would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to research and develop a way of conveying to consumers the level of automation a vehicle possesses.
If you have a modified track-only motorcycle, then we have some news to share that you will enjoy, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn proposed language that would have specifically given it the ability to regulate the emissions of production vehicles that were being used at track days or similar events.
The proposed rule caused quite a storm in automotive enthusiast circles, as it would have affected racing and recreational uses of products that have been sold under “race use only” provisions for years. Of course, the larger issue at stake here was the continued selling of race parts to street enthusiasts.
Still, since it is hard to find a motorcycle on the road these days that hasn’t seen its emissions equipment modified, it doesn’t surprise us to see the backlash coming from the motorcycling community.
We are finally seeing some movement from the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) in regards to the EPA’s proposed regulations against converting street vehicles for racing purposes and the sale of aftermarket “race use only” parts.
Today, the AMA published a press release detailing much of the same information we brought you yesterday about the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 – better known as the RPM Act.
In its press release, the AMA says that it supports the efforts being made in Congress, and that the motorcycle lobbying group is also working with SEMA to keep EPA regulations for vehicles used in competition as they currently stand.
The AMA also says that its focus is to have language in the RPM Act that would specifically exempt competition motorcycles from EPA regulation, a move that would ensure that MotoAmerica and other race series in the US would continue to operate unrestricted.
In case you missed it, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to close a loophole on how the Clean Air Act is applied to race-oriented vehicles, namely by cracking down on “race use only” parts and and going on to say that it is illegal to alter the emission control systems on a vehicle, even if it is not being used on-road.
The issue has caused quite a stir in the aftermarket parts business, which is understandable since the EPAs enforcement would likely mean hefty fines for any manufacturer who produces these “race only” parts.
Dealerships and other business that sold the racing components could also come under the long hammer of the EPA, with these proposed changes.
While there is some interesting discussion to be had on the matter, the EPA’s actions are certainly troublesome. The federal agency’s reversal on 46 year’s worth of precedent seems a bit disingenuous, and its unilateral “reinterpretation” of the Clean Air Act seems like nothing more than a well-lawyered land-grab.
Thankfully, we have Congress on our side.
It’s bad news for Oregonian motorcyclists who were hoping to join the 21st century with the lane-filtering privileges that most of the world enjoys, as the Oregon House of Representatives has killed bill SB 694, in committee.
The bill, which had passed through the Senate Judiciary committee with an unanimous vote and the Oregon Senate with a two-thirds majority, was denied access to a general vote, by the bi-partisan Oregon House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development.
SB 694 had faced strong opposition from the Oregon Department of Transportation and law enforcement agencies because of perceived added danger to motorists if motorcycles were to filter through stopped traffic, and the opinions of the organizations carried weight with the House Committee, fueling its decision to kill the bill.
I love our neighbors to the north, endless outdoor fun, progressive thinking, and an affinity for things of a more “crunchy” nature. But as a 5th-generation Californian, it is ingrained in my head to fear and mistrust the oppressive dictatorship and hate machine the Oregonians run (the California public school system starts this process in the second grade), as they steal children in the middle of the night and brainwash them into Birkenstock-wearing slave labor and questionable physical hygiene boot camps.
So it comes as some surprise that the Oregon State House of Representatives is introducing a bill to allow motorcycle riders, ages 21 and over, the choice of whether they want to ride with helmets or not (an act that misguided tea party wannabes equate with freedom on the open road).