Last week, AMA staff attended the National Conference of State Legislators.
While some legislators and staff avoided our booth, many were interested in hearing more about our legislative efforts to protect and promote motorcycling – the Indian Chief that Indian Motorcycles loaned us for the event didn’t hurt either.
Nick Haris and I spoke with legislators from Maine to Washington and from Texas to Montana. Many of the legislators are riders themselves and, as a result, understand the needs of the motorcycling community.
2014 has been for motorcycle-related legislation – and it isn’t over yet.
So far this year, Louisiana passed legislation prohibiting motorcycle-only checkpoints. Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania introduced legislation that would limit the checkpoints in some way, though the legislation either has not yet passed or failed.
Additionally, the AMA tracked more than 250 pieces of legislation related to distracted driving. Some of these bills, such as Wisconsin’s A 124, prohibit any driver from engaging in any activity that “reasonably appears to interfere with the person’s ability to drive the vehicle safely.”
With distracted drivers contributing to many accidents, it is encouraging to see so many legislatures taking up bills to combat the problem.
Equipment issues also proved to be popular this year. The AMA is tracking 49 bills relating to everything from air filters to handlebar height. Perhaps most importantly, Kansas passed H 2318, a bill that allows for modulating headlamps on motorcycles and certain auxiliary side lighting. Lighting issues will remain important as the riding community continues to look for ways to increase conspicuity.
Unfortunately, many states limit auxiliary lighting.
On the privacy front, many states introduced bills that would codify that data captured by an event data recorder belongs solely to the owner of the vehicle. Additionally, New Jersey introduced a bill, A 3527, which would prevent the state from sharing license-plate information with other states for purpose of issuing traffic violations based on evidence from traffic cameras. Missouri H 1368 attempted to ban the use of global positioning systems as a method of tracking the number of miles a vehicle travels.
With no long-term federal funding fix for the Highway Trust Fund, tolls became a more important issue in states this year. Currently, we are tracking 107 bills related to the collection of tolls. The AMA opposes tolls because they divert traffic off highways and onto smaller roads that were not designed to handle such large volumes. This makes the roads more dangerous, not only for motorcyclists, but for all motorists.
While always a hot-button issue, helmet laws (both for and against) accounted for only 1.9% of the bills the AMA tracked.
This is just a small sample of the over 2,200 motorcycle-related bills the AMA is tracking. If you have any questions regarding specific legislation please do not hesitate to contact the government relations department at firstname.lastname@example.org.