PICKERINGTON, Ohio – The new federal safety initiative–Road to Zero–announced today by the U.S. Department of Transportation ignores a significant sector of the nation's road users–the millions of Americans who choose motorcycles as their favorite form of transportation.
The Road to Zero initiative is a coalition tackling the task of ending road fatalities within 30 years. The coalition includes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Safety Council.
"We laud the efforts of these three federal agencies and the National Safety Council to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on the nation's roads," said Wayne Allard, vice president of government relations for the American Motorcyclist Association. "However, during the announcement of this major initiative, no mention was made of motorcycles or motorcyclists, even though the safety of other vulnerable road users-including pedestrians, bicyclists, even joggers-was specifically highlighted."
Allard said the AMA, which represents the interests of all American motorcyclists, must be a part of the discussion to ensure that motorcycle safety is at the forefront and to protect the future of motorcycling.
The Road to Zero Coalition initially will focus on promoting strategies such as increasing seat belt use, installing rumble strips, addressing truck safety, undertaking behavior-change campaigns and data-driven enforcement. The coalition then will lead the development of a new scenario-based vision on how to achieve zero traffic deaths based on evidence-based strategies and a systematic approach to eliminating risks.
A large part of the long-range plan for Road to Zero is the emergence of autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles, referred to as highly automated vehicles by the U.S. Department of Transportation. These HAVs hold the potential for eliminating crashes that are caused by human decision making, such as drunken driving, speeding and distracted driving.
"The questions we have for the coalition and the DOT are 'Was the exclusion of motorcycles intentional?' and 'Is a ban on motorcycles part of the plan to get to zero road deaths?'" Allard said.
"It is hard to imagine how you could eliminate all human decision making from the operation of a vehicle, especially a motorcycle," Allard said. "If autonomous motorcycles were ever developed, no one would ride them. We also are particularly concerned that highly automated vehicles are not being developed in a manner that takes into account the detection of motorcycles."
At the same time, the AMA is awaiting the appointment of the re-established national Motorcyclist Advisory Council, which is to advise the federal transportation agencies on motorcycle-related issues.
"Motorcyclists should have been included in this project from the beginning, either through direct interaction with the AMA or through the Motorcyclist Advisory Council," Allard said. "Let's not let another moment slip by without considering the safety of this important segment of road users and taking steps to secure the future of this popular form of transportation."