Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
Autonomous Vehicles Should Stop Hitting Motorcycles
The safety of autonomous cars remains in question, as a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hit a motorcyclist on October 19 in Mountain View, California, when the test driver took control of the car to avoid a vehicle that had suddenly moved into its lane. The manufacturer claims its technology, which can “see 360 degrees in every direction,” could have avoided the incident if the car’s software had remained in control, but reports from around the country indicate that self-driving cars are struggling to handle some driving tasks.
Autonomous cars are hitting the road whether we like it or not, but the presumption that they will be safer than human drivers when it comes to avoiding accidents has so far proven less than promising. There have been at least three reported cases of an autonomous car crashing into a motorcycle. On July 27, 2016, a motorcyclist in Norway was seriously injured when she was rear-ended by a Tesla Model S with its Autopilot self-driving system engaged. Additionally, on December 7, 2017, a California motorcyclist was hurt in a collision with a self-driving Chevy Bolt that had aborted a signaled lane change and was returning to its original lane while the rider was lane splitting past it, a maneuver that is legal in California.
Another disturbing incident occurred when an autonomous Uber car struck and killed a woman who was walking her bicycle across the road at night. One would think that the car’s radar and infrared scanners would detect such an object far better than the human eye could. Indeed, the car’s onboard computer detected the obstruction in the road six seconds before impact. Unfortunately, it failed to identify what type of object she was until just 1.3 seconds before impact, at which point it was too late to avoid hitting her. Other factors, such as an inattentive human driver who was supposed to be monitoring the car’s surroundings, also contributed to the fatal crash, but a computer that fails to identify a target for nearly five seconds should be quite disturbing to motorcyclists who may suffer from this fate as well.
Adaptive Cruise Control is a radar guidance system that enables a car to change its speed relative to the vehicle in front of it based on traffic conditions. A study by RDW has determined that existing adaptive cruise control systems often do not do an adequate job of locking onto a motorcycle rather than a car. These systems seem to have difficulty detecting a motorcycle not riding in the center of its lane, which is a problem since riders tend to occupy either the left or right tire grooves of a lane.
Another study by Dynamic Research shows similar results when it comes to forward collision warnings detecting motorcycles. Throughout the tests, forward collision warning systems failed to detect the motorcycle adequately in 40% of trials. Similarly, 37% of simulated crashes in this test occurred because the car’s onboard detection systems didn’t see the motorcycle, which is also the number one cause of motorcycle accidents with human drivers.
If autonomous driving systems are designed properly, developed with motorcyclists in mind rather than an afterthought, they could potentially deliver on their promise of making the roads safer for everyone. “They could be on the lookout for motorcycles and other road hazards in all directions at all times, something even the most attentive human driver can never do,” according to RideApart.com. “The trick is to design such systems to work in this way as a core functionality. Autonomous vehicles must be able to search, evaluate, and execute the same way the Motorcycle Safety Foundation teaches all riders to.”
U.S. Senate Seeks Full Funding For Recreational Trails
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) has aided trail construction and maintenance projects and programs nationwide since 1991. Created through landmark surface transportation legislation, RTP reflected Congressional belief that federal gas taxes paid on motor fuel used in motorized non-highway recreational activities should be used to benefit those paying the tax as well as other users of recreational trails. Tens of millions of hikers and bikers, equestrians and ATVers, snowmobilers and skiers, canoeists and others now enjoy better outdoor experiences because of this action. RTP’s accomplishments unite the efforts in every state of federal agencies, state and local governments, volunteers and recreation businesses.
Now, a bipartisan effort promises to dramatically increase the benefits of RTP’s proven formula with the recent introduction of S.3604, the RTP Full Funding Act of 2018 to require a study to estimate the total amount of taxes collected on non-highway recreational fuel, improve reporting on expenditures from the RTP, and streamline RTP funding distribution to the states by reducing unnecessary paperwork.
“Minnesota snowmobilers, hikers, ATV users, cyclists, and countless others who enjoy the outdoors rely on the Recreational Trails Program to explore our state’s natural wonders and support our local businesses,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), one of the bill’s sponsors. “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure states receive all of the resources they deserve to protect and improve these trails for generations to come.”
According to the Coalition for Recreational Trails, over the last 27 years the RTP has funded more than 23,000 projects and has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars of matching support from other private and public sources for trails and facilitated healthy outdoor recreation, as well as badly needed economic activity in countless communities.
However, conservative estimates suggest that the RTP currently receives only about one third of the total taxes paid annually by non-highway “recreationists.” A study to determine the best available estimate of the total amount of non-highway recreational fuel taxes collected will help ensure that these federal taxes are appropriately returned to the states for RTP while helping provide the Congress with the information it needs as it considers future infrastructure legislation.
Ohio Enacts Distracted Driving Law
Since the early days of motorcycling, riders have rightfully complained that car drivers don’t see them. Frustrated and infuriated by the lack of respect on the road, Motorcycle Rights Organizations across the country began lobbying for and passing laws that added fines and penalties for inattentive drivers who cause accidents resulting in injury or death. So-called “R-O-W” laws to punish careless or distracted drivers who carelessly violate our Right-of-Way have cropped up in numerous states nationwide, with Oregon being the most recent state to enact such a law last June, spearheaded by the Oregon Confederation of Clubs.
When “distracted driving” entered the national consciousness more than a decade ago, the problem was mainly people who made calls or sent texts from their cell phones. Innovations since then, such as car Wi-Fi and a host of new apps, have led to a boom in internet usage in vehicles that safety experts now say is contributing to a surge in highway deaths. After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities have increased to the highest levels in years, and distracted driving has been cited as the main culprit. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that distracted driving has led to the biggest spike in traffic deaths in 50 years!
Now, distracted driving is about to become a costlier offense on Ohio roads, as effective October 29, 2018, new regulations and penalties went into effect pertaining to what constitutes “distracted driving.” House Bill 95 broadens the description of driving distracted beyond using telecommunications or other hand-held electronic devices while driving. Officers now can cite drivers observed to be engaged in any “activity that is not necessary for the vehicle’s operation and that impairs, or reasonably would be expected to impair, the driver’s ability to drive safely,” according to the legislation.
The bill defines “distracted” as:
– Using a handheld electronic wireless communications device – including phones, tablets and computers – except when it is on speakerphone or otherwise hands-free.
– Any activity “that is not necessary to the operation of a vehicle” and could or does impair the driver.
Governor John Kasich signed the legislation July 30 to make distracted driving a secondary offense in the state. So, if you’re pulled over for speeding or another moving violation, and found to be driving while distracted, the new law enhances the fine by an additional $100 or completion of a distracted-driving safety course. A person can only be cited for “distracted driving” if the law enforcement officer witnesses the offense while the moving violation is occurring, according to the bill.
Texting while driving has already been a secondary offense in Ohio since 2012, but HB95, which passed the legislature with bipartisan support, applies to distracted driving in all its forms, from putting on makeup to changing the radio station. Similar laws are already on the books in Connecticut, Maine, Washington state, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
NCOM Convention In Orlando – Save The Date!
The 34th annual NCOM Convention will be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-12, 2019 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Orlando, Florida. The largest gathering of motorcycle rights activists in the world, the NCOM Convention attracts hundreds of concerned motorcyclists from across America to address topics of concern to all riders.
All motorcyclists are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the many meetings, seminars and group discussions that focus on legislative efforts and litigation techniques to protect our riders’ rights and preserve Freedom of the Road. Special seminars will be held on Restoration of Rights, Leadership 101 and “Share the Road” Motorcycle Safety.
Additional agenda items will cover legal and legislative issues, with Special Meetings for Veterans Affairs, Women in Motorcycling, Clean & Sober Roundtable and World of Sport Bikes, as well as the Christian Unity Conference and Confederation of Clubs Patch Holders Meeting.
To pre-register for the 2019 NCOM Convention, contact the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
Denmark Moves To Make Helmets Obligatory
Concerned that the current law is open to exploitation, Denmark could soon see a helmet law overhaul. In the Scandinavian country, riders are allowed to go helmetless if they obtain a doctor’s note or have a legitimate non-medical reason such as wearing a turban. However, government ministers believe that “biker gang types” often threaten doctors in order to obtain the note.
According to a report by The Local, transport and health ministers have presented a proposal that would eliminate all exceptions. Transport Minister Ole Birk Olesen said, “You can see on the streets that many are riding without a helmet,” adding that if there really is a medical reason to not wear a helmet, those people shouldn’t ride motorcycles in the first place.
While the ministers conceded they had no idea if false or coerced doctors’ notes are a major issue in Denmark, they claimed it was an assumption based on “a clear hunch”.
Olesen also noted that the proposed change is for riders’ own good.
If the government’s proposal is passed the new rules will take effect on January 1st, while those with an existing doctor’s note will be allowed to continue riding helmetless until July 1st.
Police Arrest Striking Motorcycle Factory Workers During Protest
A protest march in India has resulted in police detaining nearly 1,500 motorcycle factory workers on strike. Police stopped the protest in Tamil Nadu, claiming that the strikers had not obtained the proper permits to hold a march.
Factory workers from Royal Enfield, Yamaha, and Myoung Shin India (a supplier of Hyundai India) have been on strike against management since September 24. Management has shunned their efforts to form unions and demand salary increases, as well as the reinstatement of workers allegedly fired for wanting to start a union.
As a result, Yamaha’s factory is operating at just 40% capacity, while Royal Enfield’s production has ceased completely, delaying the introduction of new models.
This setback will not deter the striking workers, however, telling News18 they intend to intensify their efforts as the companies they are striking against continue refusing to work with them. Salespeople will soon join factory workers in the strike, and employees from 50 other companies in the area also plan to join in, indicating the situation will continue to get worse before it gets better as a result of these strikes.
Quotable Quote: “Why is it we think of history as something that is in the past and forget that we are making it?”
~ Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British Prime Minister
The AIM/NCOM Motorcycle E-News Service is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. If you’ve been involved in any kind of accident, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
ABOUT AIM / NCOM: The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is a nationwide motorcyclists rights organization serving over 2,000 NCOM Member Groups throughout the United States, with all services fully-funded through Aid to Injured Motorcyclist (AIM) Attorneys in every state who donate a portion of their legal fees from motorcycle accidents back into the NCOM Network of Biker Services (www.ON-A-BIKE.com / 800-ON-A-BIKE).