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Nov. 26, 2013

American Motorcyclist Association

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Centers For Disease Control Trying to Reduce Motorcycle Use?

The American Motorcyclist Association fears the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be trying to reduce motorcycle use. What triggered this concern?
A Nov. 21, 2013 letter from U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) to the Centers for Disease Control questions the work of a CDC advisory group called the Community Preventive Services Task Force. Walberg asked the CDC if it is trying to reduce motorcycle ridership by pursuing a federal mandatory motorcycle helmet-use law. The concern arises from a presentation at a task force meeting in October 2013.

What happened at the task force meeting?
At its meeting in October 2013, the task force viewed a CDC staff-prepared presentation about the benefits of universal helmet laws. One of the slides links the adoption of universal helmet-use laws to a potential reduction in motorcycle riding, which would help meet the CDC’s goal to reduce injuries and fatalities. (The task force had previously approved a recommendation for universal motorcycle helmet laws at its meeting in June 2013.)

Why is the AMA concerned?
Like Rep. Walberg, the AMA questions what expertise and authority the CDC and its task force have in the traffic safety arena. Motorcycling is not a disease to be cured; it is a legitimate means of transportation and recreation enjoyed by an estimated 11 million Americans.

What are the ramifications of a potential reduction in motorcycle ridership because of a universal helmet-use law?
The ramifications are deeply troubling and potentially very damaging to the future of motorcycling. If, as the task force suggests, a universal helmet-use law reduces ridership, the outcome would be the loss of thousands of jobs in an industry that generates nearly $20 billion annually in consumer sales and services, state taxes and licensing fees. It’s also a direct attack on the lifestyle of millions of motorcycle riders in the U.S.

Is the AMA against helmet use?
On the contrary, the AMA strongly encourages the use of a properly fitted motorcycle helmet certified by its manufacturer to meet the DOT standard. However, the AMA does not support universal helmet laws. The AMA believes that adults should have the right to voluntarily decide when to wear a helmet. Helmets do not prevent crashes and the AMA believes government resources should be directed toward programs that reduce the risk of crashes occurring such as voluntary rider education and motorist awareness programs.

What has been done so far?
The AMA has been in touch with Rep. Walberg, who is asking the CDC to explain itself on this issue. Additionally, AMA Vice President for Government Relations Wayne Allard has delivered a letter to the CDC director and the task force asking for an explanation of their goals.

What can I do to help?
Your voice helps tremendously and we urge you to take action. Tell your elected representatives that this issue is important to you. The best way to do that is through the AMA’s website, www.americanmotorcyclist.com, and the rapid-response tools available by clicking on Rights > Issues and Legislation.

What happens next?
The AMA remains vigilant on this issue, and you can find the latest information on www.americanmotorcyclist.com.