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  • DC Insider: Big Brother and your ride

    If you are concerned that your insurer will selectively use data from an event data recorder (commonly known as a black box) to increase your motorcycle insurance rates, or that recorded data may be used to target you in a civil or criminal proceeding, then you—the motorcyclist—should urge your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 2414, the “Black Box Privacy Protection Act.”

    U.S. Reps. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced this legislation, among other items, to protect motorcyclists’ rights. The American Motorcyclist Association protects motorcyclists’ freedom to ride and we support this bipartisan bill.

    The bill would require manufacturers to prominently disclose to consumers if a black box is installed on their motorcycle, the data collection capabilities of such a device, and how such data may be used. The bill clarifies that the owner of the motorcycle owns the data and it may not be accessed without the permission of the owner. Furthermore, this bill requires that manufacturers provide consumers with the option of controlling the recording function in automobiles or motorcycles manufactured in the future that are equipped with black boxes.

    In other words, consumers would have the ability to turn the black box on or off.

    Currently, no federal law exists that clarifies the rights of vehicle owners to ownership of the recorded data.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requiring black boxes be installed in all cars manufactured after Sept. 1, 2014. The NHTSA already has disclosure requirements, but the Black Box Privacy Protection Act would make the disclosure more prominent and give consumers even greater choice and privacy protections.

    Does your government need to know your riding habits? If your answer is no, then you can do something about it.

    Help us get additional cosponsors for H.R. 2414. The bipartisan bill will protect motorcyclists’ rights and clarifies that the owner of the motorcycle owns the data.

    Most importantly—It will also give you the ability to turn off the black box!

    Act now by using our alert for H.R. 2414 to send a prewritten message to send to your representative.

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  • DC Insider: Another dynamic may contribute to inadvertent E15 misfueling

    There’s a new dynamic that may contribute to inadvertent E15 misfueling: Reid Vapor Pressure.

    What is Reid Vapor Pressure, or RVP?

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, RVP is “a common measure of and generic term for gasoline volatility. EPA regulates the vapor pressure of gasoline sold at retail stations during the summer ozone season (June 1 to September 15) to reduce evaporative emissions from gasoline that contribute to ground-level ozone and diminish the effects of ozone-related health problems.”

    How can RVP contribute to inadvertent E15 misfueling?

    The American Motorcyclist Association recently discovered a retailer in Wisconsin selling E15 with a label that does not meet the current labeling requirements per the EPA misfueling mitigation plan.

    This discovery prompted the AMA to research the validity of this new label.

    The AMA learned that the retailer in question is located in a “volatility attainment area” that prohibits the sale of gasoline with a RVP that exceeds 9.0 psi.

    Because of the RVP issue, the retailer affixed a label that states, “Stop! Not Gasoline! This fuel is designed to operate in Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) only. Please consult your owner’s manual before fueling if you are unsure if you are operating an FFV.”

    Yet, the EPA informed the AMA in a response to our inquiry that it “does not have any fuel dispenser labeling requirements for RVP. However, some states may have independent labeling requirements.”

    Does Wisconsin have independent labeling requirements with regard to the RVP season? If so, how does it comply with the federal regulations that state that it must be gasoline during the RVP season. The label clearly states that this not gasoline.

    Moreover, the federal regulation states the ethanol blend “must be at least 9% and no more than 10% (by volume) of the gasoline” during the RVP season.

    How does an E15 fuel that contains up to 15 percent by volume comply with the federal regulations?

    More importantly, how will motorcyclists know this fuel is unsafe for their motorcycles?

    These are the questions sent to Wisconsin in an effort to address our concerns with the RVP label on an E15 blender pump.

    Once the AMA receives a reply, we will be sure to share it with AMA members and all concerned motorcyclists.

    The bottom line—the AMA wants access to safe fuels for motorcycles and ATVs. Given marketplace realities, wherever E15 is sold there will very likely be inadvertent misfueling issues. Motorcycles and ATVs are not approved for E15 use, and inadvertently misfueling a motorcycle or ATV has the potential to not only damage the engine and fuel system but also to void a manufacturer's warranty.

    The loser of any inadvertent misfueling is the motorcyclist and ATV rider. The AMA stands behind not only its members, but all riders, in calling for more extensive testing for E15 and more thorough misfueling safeguards.

    Get the facts on this important issue with the AMA’s E15 and Motorcycles Q&A.

    Like always, the AMA has you—the motorcyclist—in mind concerning the potentially harmful effects of E15 fuel on your ride.

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  • DC Insider: Sunshine is the best disinfectant

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

    Well, U.S. Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) are following Brandeis’s advice with the introduction of H.R. 2919, the “Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act.” This bipartisan legislation would reinstate tracking and reporting requirements of payments made under the Equal Access to Justice Act.

    This legislation is long overdue and the American Motorcyclist Association and the All-Terrain Vehicle Association thank Reps. Lummis and Cohen for introducing it.

    The bill will return the EAJA to its original intent, instituting targeted reforms to reinstate and track reporting requirements intended to make EAJA more transparent.

    The lack of transparency and oversight has led to EAJA program abuse by anti-OHV groups using taxpayer funds to file lawsuits. These lawsuits can ultimately lead to restricting responsible motorized access to public lands.

    “The Equal Access to Justice Act was a good idea when it passed Congress more than three decades ago,“ said Congressman Lummis. “It remains a good idea today so long as it is operating as Congress intended. Requiring agencies to keep track of what they pay attorneys will help Congress determine if EAJA is working well, or not. I am appreciative of Rep. Cohen’s engagement in this effort, and look forward to working with him and our House colleagues to move this bill forward.”

    “Americans have a right to know what their government is doing and their government has a duty to be as transparent as possible,” said Congressman Cohen. “Without adequate reporting, citizen’s rights cannot be fully protected and the government risks failing in its duty to its people. I look forward to working with Representative Lummis to reopen the government’s books to help ensure that all Americans have access to this information.”

    Let’s support H.R. 2919 by getting as many cosponsors to push this bill over the top. You can use our easy-to-use alert to send a prewritten message to your representative today.

    At the AMA, we wholeheartedly agree with Brandeis, Lummis and Cohen—give us some sunshine!

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  • DC Insider: Is another federal agency trying to influence state laws?

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a notice in the Federal Register on a proposed project entitled “Costs and Cost Savings of Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention: Evidence-Based Policy and Behavioral Interventions.”

    With the notice coming from the CDC, this caught our attention.

    So, the American Motorcyclist Association reached out to the A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education of Iowa, Inc., known as A.B.A.T.E. of Iowa, to send a joint letter to the CDC.

    We wanted the CDC to address our concerns with the proposed project’s goal to “collect information relating to the costs of implementing motor vehicle injury prevention interventions” in order to get— in their own words -- the “biggest bang for the buck.”

    We learned that the CDC study will focus on thirteen “interventions.” Specifically, one of them is “motorcycle helmet use laws.”

    According to the notice, “information is needed to complete a research study of the costs and costs savings to society of implementing evidence-based interventions.”

    What is the CDC’s definition of “evidence-based interventions”?

    An official with the Department of Health & Human Services responded on behalf of the CDC to our letter. According to the HHS, “We used a wide body of research from various organizations to identify/define evidence-based interventions. We include studies conducted by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the World Health Organization [Part of the United Nations], and other organizations.”

    The CDC further “evaluated the list of effective interventions against a set of pre-determined criteria for the project.” And added, “These criteria included the potential for broad implementation, the potential for high impact in injuries prevented and lives saved, and the likelihood that the intervention would be implemented at the state level.”

    What is the intent of the CDC in using this data once complete? Is one of the purposes of the study to influence state laws?

    “CDC will use the data collected to complete the cost estimates for each of the selected thirteen interventions. The cost estimates will be used in the main product of this project, an online tool.” Moreover, “The online tool can be used to identify the intervention or sets of interventions that can be implemented in individual states that will provide the largest benefit in injuries prevented and lives saved. This project will provide scientific information to help states choose to focus their safety efforts in areas that make the most sense for their situation.”

    With regard to funding, how much is this study costing taxpayers? Moreover, will sequestration make it more difficult for this project to be completed?

    “The contract for the entire project was awarded at $927,554. The cost for the key informant interviews for all thirteen interventions, including motorcycle helmet laws, is estimated to be $30,000. This project will not be affected by sequestration.”

    Let’s recap.

    Our federal government will spend nearly $1 million to run a project that will use data from federal agencies and federally funded programs, as well as a UN agency, to support 13 interventions that the CDC believes “would be implemented at the state level.”

    Curious about the CDC’s agenda? So are we.

    Ever since the CDC released a study in June 2012 claiming that annual cost savings in states with universal motorcycle helmet laws were nearly four times greater (per registered motorcycle) than in states without universal helmet laws, it’s no secret that the CDC wants more states to adopt mandatory helmet laws.

    The CDC is not the first federal agency to make a case for universal motorcycle helmet laws. For years, the NHTSA sought to influence state legislatures in the same manner. Then, in 1998, the NHTSA was prohibited from using federal funds to lobby state or local legislators. In 2011, Congress introduced a resolution supporting efforts to retain the ban on the NHTSA's ability to lobby state legislators, and urged NHTSA to focus on motorcycle crash prevention and rider education and training.

    That’s the bottom line for the AMA: Rider education and training, as well as motorist awareness programs, are effective strategies to reduce motorcycle crashes from ever occurring. Whereas, universal motorcycle helmet laws do nothing to prevent crashes.

    Just to be clear, the AMA -- as part of a comprehensive motorcycle safety program to help reduce injuries and fatalities in the event of a motorcycle crash -- strongly encourages the use of personal protective equipment, including gloves, sturdy footwear and a properly fitted motorcycle helmet certified by its manufacturer to meet the DOT standard. But the AMA believes that adults should have the right to voluntarily decide when to wear a helmet. (The AMA does not oppose laws requiring helmets for minor motorcycle operators and passengers.)

    We spent years sending that message to federal legislators and NHTSA regulators. Now it’s time to do the same with the CDC.

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  • DC Insider: How much do motorcycle-only checkpoints cost you, the taxpayer?

    If you thought a few thousand dollars, you would be wrong.

    For the past two years, the cost to federal taxpayers to fund motorcycle-only checkpoints in just three states is well over $500,000!

    That’s right.

    In addition to the privilege of being signaled out and directed to a discriminatory checkpoint, you also have the pleasure of knowing that your hard-earned tax dollars are allowing this to occur.

    Specifically, the fiscal 2012 and 2013 state highway safety plans indicate that New York and the District of Columbia have earmarked federal grants for MOCs.

    New York budgeted $490,000 in the past two years alone! Even more troubling, the state used motorcycle safety funds from Section 402 of Title 23. Funds from this section should promote strategies to prevent motorcycle crashes from occurring and not be used to arbitrarily pull over riders and randomly subjecting them to roadside inspections.

    And this is just for two years. New York stated in its highway safety plans that it has conducted MOCs “officially” since fiscal year 2009, but fails to mention its costs for fiscal years 2009-11.

    Additionally, the District of Columbia stated in its highway safety plans that it conducts two motorcycle-only checkpoints each year and uses federal grants to fund a $25,000 enforcement budget to help pay for it.

    You may also remember that Georgia was the only state to receive a federal grant in the amount of $70,000 from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration program to create MOCs. The grant was used to conduct one or more roadside MOCs, including one by the Georgia State Patrol on I-95 on March 9, 2011 to single out motorcyclists on their way to Bike Week at Daytona Beach.

    Fed up? You can do something about it.

    Help us get additional cosponsors for H.R. 1861, the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act. The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), will protect motorcyclists’ rights and promote crash prevention as the most effective use of taxpayer money to save motorcyclists’ lives. It will also prohibit federal funds being used by states to conduct MOCs.

    Act now by using our alert for H.R. 1861 to send a prewritten message to send to your representative!

    To view the AMA's efforts to end motorcycle-only checkpoints, go to

    You—the motorcyclist— can count on the AMA to guard your freedoms while you enjoy the ride.

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  • DC Insider: Federal agency webpage is inflammatory

    The American Motorcyclist Association and its All-Terrain Vehicle Association oppose the language chosen by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for its new infographic webpage entitled CPSC Infographic: Big Real Rough Tough Deadly ATV Statistics.

    What exactly is the CPSC’s intention when it selected the words “rough” and “tough?” And the use of the word “deadly” implies what we can only infer is an extreme bias against ATVs by the CPSC.

    I am perplexed with the use of the word “deadly” when the CPSC’s own statistics indicate the ATV safety record is improving.

    The result: this new infographic webpage may result in a harmful relationship between the responsible motorized community and the CPSC.

    The AMA wants to know what you think of the new infographic webpage. Sound off with a comment.

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  • DC Insider: Vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology is coming – What does it mean for motorcyclists?

    Vehicle-to-Vehicle technology, known as V2V, is coming. Recently, AMA staff met with engineers at a V2V vehicle demonstration event in Washington, D.C., to learn more about how this emerging technology will work with motorcycles.

    The event was hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and eight automobile manufacturers that make up Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership Vehicle Safety Communications 3 – the group that is researching, developing and testing the technologies that form the framework for V2V systems. The car makers are Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai-Kia Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

    What makes V2V work?

    It uses dedicated short-range communications similar to Wi-Fi that is combined with the Global Positioning System. This system provides a 360-degree view of similarly equipped vehicles within communication range. Nine indicators are used by the system to help prevent crashes. They are GPS position, speed, acceleration, heading, transmission state, brake status, steering wheel angle, path history and path prediction.

    According to the U.S. DOT, information transmitted by every vehicle would be anonymous and won’t include personal identifiers, such as a name and license plate number. Additionally, a sophisticated security system would be in place to ensure communication between vehicles is authentic and can be trusted.

    When a crash is predicted, the vehicle will provide a warning to the driver with a seat vibration, visual display or a combination of these indicators. Every automobile manufacturer will have different interfaces on how the driver and passengers will be alerted.

    How do motorcycles fit into this emerging technology?

    As envisioned, motorcycles would have the same equipment as other motor vehicles—such as an antennae and a module to store the short range communication device and GPS. The rider would remain in full control of the motorcycle. The technology would make it possible for other similarly equipped vehicles to “see” the motorcyclist.

    At the demonstration event, AMA staff participated in two scenarios involving a vehicle and motorcycle equipped with the V2V technology. They were the Blind Spot Warning and Intersection Movement Assist scenarios.

    The Blind Spot Warning alerted the car driver when the motorcycle entered the car’s blind spot with an indicator on the car’s side-view mirror, a seat vibration and audible alarm. If the driver turned the car’s turn signal on, the indicator flashed with an audible alarm to let the driver know there was a bike in the car’s path.

    The Intersection Movement Assist allows vehicles to be aware of each other even if the view is obstructed. The scientists claim that current technology that uses radar cannot be trusted in this scenario because it cannot see around curves or if the view is obstructed. The Intersection Movement Assist system works similar to the Blind Spot Warning system. The only difference is the location of the indicator lights. With the Intersection Movement Assist, LED lights flash on the car windshield the direction the approaching vehicle is traveling.

    With privacy and safety our utmost priorities, the AMA still has some areas of concern with this new technology. The U.S. DOT has stated that privacy and system security are secure. We aren’t convinced. The AMA has provided comments to the Federal Communication Commission to bring awareness that the V2V technology may be compromised with unlicensed devices, such as other Wi-Fi networks. Therefore, we asked the FCC for further testing to ensure vehicles using advanced crash-avoidance and vehicle-to-vehicle- technologies are not compromised.

    V2V technology presents another potential problem. With vehicular intersections already a well-documented problem for motorcyclists, can you imagine the false sense of security that drivers may have who are relying on advanced safety technologies? They may listen and look for the bells and whistles on their cars rather than look out the windows to actually see motorcycles. Drivers may believe these technologies will protect them and other road users, and may not be aware that these technologies could possibly malfunction at a critical moment.

    As these new technologies emerge we must remain vigilant to ensure that motorcyclists, and motorcyclists’ rights, are protected. The AMA is at the forefront in this effort and we will continue to inform our members and motorcyclists about our concerns and possible solutions.

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  • DC Insider: Pro-ethanol group calls E15 misfueling concerns absurd

    On June 18, boosters of the untested-for-motorcycles E15 fuel blend (15 percent ethanol by volume) issued a statement saying there is no need for misfueling concerns for motorcycles as E15 becomes available to the public. It specifically cited the American Motorcyclist Association, in part, for delaying the availability of E15 nationwide in a press conference call.

    The group insisted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “has seen to it that E15 is clearly labeled at fueling stations.” Additionally, the group released an E15 fact sheet for motorcyclists. The fact sheet stated that E15 is illegal to put into a motorcycle engine.

    Telling motorcyclists that E15 use is illegal completely misses the point because motorcyclists don't want to use it unless independent testing confirms it is safe. One of the AMA’s concerns has always been that riders might unintentionally put E15 in their fuel tanks due to confusing implementation of the EPA Misfueling Mitigation Plan and the possibility of residual E15 fuel left in a fuel hose, which could be as much as one-third of a gallon.

    So now, besides having serious concerns about the potential harmful effects of unsafe fuel and inadvertent misfueling, AMA members and the motorcycling community have to worry about the consequences of breaking a federal law.

    The AMA is troubled by the EPA plan for retailers to avoid inadvertent misfueling by consumers because the plan does not provide clarity to AMA members and the public. For example, it calls for yet another label on a blender pump that already has many labels. The plan does not require any physical barriers in the fueling nozzle/receptacle, as was provided when the nation transitioned from leaded to unleaded fuel. Finally, the plan calls for a single, separate E10/E0 fuel pump when E15 will be sold through a blender pump and signage directing consumers to an E10-or-lower fuel pump.

    In addition to our concerns with the EPA Misfueling Mitigation Plan, we question if every retailer selling E15 will abide by its requirements. If a retailer does not clearly label E15, a motorcyclist may inadvertently receive it, believing it is an E10 or E0 blend. If a retailer does not separate E10 from E15 in a blender pump, a motorcyclist selecting E10 can inadvertently receive more than a quart of E15 fuel leftover in the pump hose. Or if a retailer offers only a single pump with E10/E0, what options are left when the pump runs out of what is likely to be the most popular fuel offered at that station?

    Get the facts on this important issue with the AMA’s E15 and Motorcycles-a Q&A.

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  • DC Insider: Is E30 fuel coming to a pump near you?

    If the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has its way, then E30 fuel is coming to a gas pump near you.

    Here’s why.

    Automobile and motorcycle manufacturers must certify that the on-highway vehicles they produce will meet applicable U.S. EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration emissions, fuel economy and safety requirements prior to selling the vehicles. The fuel that the vehicles must use for this requirement is called the “certification fuel.”

    By administrative fiat, the EPA now proposes to change the certification fuel to E15, with an allowance for manufacturers to petition the EPA for an E30 certification. This proposal, if promulgated, will create an environment where this country will have a divided fleet of engines requiring different types of fuel.

    The current certification fuel is E0 – that is, fuel that has no ethanol content whatsoever.

    Changing the certification fuel to E15 or E30 is at odds with the 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles currently in use, not to mention the legacy fleet of cars, boats, lawnmowers, generators and hundreds of millions of small engines in commerce today. None of these vehicles and engines is designed to operate on fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol.  

    The AMA believes that the current certification fuel should not be changed to reflect what the EPA calls “forward-looking” assumptions about what “could become a major gasoline blend over the next 10-15 years,” such as E15 or E30.

    Currently, the risks of increasing E15 in the marketplace will negatively impact every American. Since the EPA used only one test to determine whether E15 is safe for vehicles before granting a waiver allowing E15 into the marketplace, the AMA urges the agency to allow for an independent scientific study of E15. We also request that motorcycles and ATVs be included in the study.

    The AMA has expressed concerns about E15 being mistakenly used and damaging engines in motorcycles and ATVs, and about the continued availability of gasoline that has no ethanol, or gasoline with only a 10 percent blend, that is safe for use in motorcycles and ATVs.

    With the EPA wanting to certify fuel at possibly E30, every motorcyclist should be very concerned.

    This is why we urge you join the American Motorcyclist Association and fellow motorcyclists at the AMA E15: “Fuel For Thought” lobby day in Washington, D.C., on June 19. The event includes a ride and a rally at the U.S. Capitol, and will educate lawmakers about the need to research the possible harmful effects of E15 fuel on motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle engines. For more information, go to

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  • DC Insider: Why buy more, you don’t use what you already own?

    It seems every time I pick up a newspaper or watch TV, I see another story about federal budget cuts and continued budget shortfalls. This is especially true for federal land management agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

    With budgets being cut, many – including myself – are worried how these cuts will affect access to our public lands, especially for responsible off-highway-vehicle use. This is particularly concerning because one of the most frequent reasons given by land managers for closing an OHV trail is lack of funding for trail maintenance.  

    However, we are not getting the whole story.

    As federal agencies are faced with shrinking budgets, instead of working to reduce inefficiencies and wasteful spending, the Department of Interior is attempting to expand the area it already manages. Let me say that one more time: As its budget is shrinking and federal land managers are curtailing operations, the DOI is purchasing more land!

    I am not the only one to notice this disturbing trend.

    U.S. Rep. Bob Bishop recently said, “It’s ironic that the Department of Interior can’t find money to keep normal operations at our parks, yet they always seem to have money to buy more land.”

    I find it sad. As OHV trails, campsites and visitor centers across the country are delaying opening day to save money, the DOI is trying to increase the size of its domain. We need to ask the people’s representatives in Congress to keep a close watch on the budgets of federal land agencies.

    We -- the OHV community – also need to be involved in maintaining trails and creating a proper and responsible riding environment so that federal land managers don’t have excuses for closing trails.

    We can do this in several ways. First, by following all posted rules and regulations regarding where we are allowed to ride. Second, we must always pack out what we bring in. Third, we must remain vigilant and keep our lawmakers informed when government tries to limit access to our lands for responsible recreation. Lastly, we can volunteer with the BLM, USFS and NPS to help ensure the trails we all enjoy are well maintained, safe and fun.

    The AMA is currently attempting to secure a list of trails that were closed due to lack of funds. With this information we hope to work with federal, state and local land managers and volunteers to reopen trails across the country.

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