Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘DOT’

Ride it to work!

Riding it to work!

On Monday, June 15th it is the 24th annual Ride To Work Day.

Some of you will leverage the day as a way to highlight the value of motorcycles and increase government awareness on the positive benefits.  But, most will ride to work because it’s just fun!

And speaking of government…  you may have missed that Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed the state’s “dead red” bill (SB 533) into law, allowing motorcyclists and bicyclists to proceed through a red traffic signal if they have waited through a full cycle and the light failed to change. The bill passed both the state’s legislative houses on unanimous votes and takes effect January 1, 2016.  Oregon is the 17th state to pass such a law although each state has unique restrictions.

However, the Oregon House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development killed the BikePac initiated bill (SB 694) that would have made lane splitting legal in Oregon.

Lastly, the U.S. Department of Transportation has called for additional safety requirements for motorcycle helmets to reduce the use of “novelty helmets” that offer little protection in a motorcycle crash.  The DOT proposal includes standards for helmet thickness, compression ability and other features which novelty helmet are unlikely to comply.

As always be smart and ride safe!

Photo courtesy of RTW.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

novelty-helmetOn Saturday Andrew Barns, 26, died when a car pulled out in front of him on his motorcycle at 185th and Farmington Road shortly before 7 p.m.  According to Sheriff reports he was wearing a novelty helmet and the medical examiner will determine if the novelty helmet contributed to his fatal injuries.  No citations were issued (at this time) to the driver.

I didn’t know Mr. Barns, but would like to offer my condolences to his family and friends.  It’s a sad day for all motorcycle enthusiasts and one to reflect on our choices.

Freedom and choice vs. safety

We’ve all heard the debate or been involved in a compelling argument on both sides of the helmet laws.  There are some motorcyclists who do, but most don’t wear a novelty helmet as a symbol of resistance “against the man” i.e. protesting lesgislators that require bikers to wear certified helmets.  Full Disclosure: I rode double digit years with a novelty helmet and even paid $2 for the DOT sticker to minimize chances of getting pulled over by law enforcement.

I don’t recall the exact moment, but I decided a few years ago that if I have to wear a helmet it might as well be one that offers some degree of protection and elected to switch to a certified helmet.   Those of you who visit this blog regularly know there are a lot of freedom of choice posts and it was MY choice to purchase a DOT certified helmet.  This may not reflect your thinking and that is your choice.

This post is about reflecting on our choices.

Clearly Mr. Barns accident was the auto drivers fault and I’m not trying to pile on to his tragedy, but it’s important to note that more than 800,000 novelty helmets are sold in the U.S. every year!   That’s about the same number of motorcycles that were registered in the state of California in 2011.

In my view, the vendor/marketers of novelty helmets are like big tobacco–unapologetic, dismissing safety concerns, squelching debate and claiming they simply are accommodating consumer demand.   Most all are made in China or India and even those Carbon Fiber/Kevlar versions are outright fakes.  Sure it’s legal to make and sell novelty helmets as long as they aren’t falsely represented as meeting federal standards, but talk about a poster-child for proliferating cheap ineffective Chinese products as motorcycle crash deaths mount.

And I’m intrigued by the contradiction… Harley-Davidson motorcyclists complain about the cheap China made Harley trinkets or 3rd party chrome parts which they want no part of, but think nothing about buying a $29 “Made In China” novelty helmet believing that ‘something is better than nothing’ regarding its protection.  But, I’ve digressed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agency has estimated that as many as 754 people die each year in states with mandatory helmet laws because they were wearing novelty helmets instead of certified headgear, which amounts to nearly 1 in 6 rider fatalities.

According to this study based on head trauma vs. non-head trauma deaths, head trauma deaths account for 34% of motorcyclist deaths.  Many would agree that an approved/certified safety helmet is by far more protective and would overwhelmingly prevent serious injuries as opposed to a novelty helmet, but I would also like to see a correlation and follow-up on motorcycle licensing, training and education.

I am sure there are a fair number of riders out there who won’t appreciate this blog post.  They will see my post as advocacy for the U.S. becoming a more repressed, intolerant and regimented place.  More government intervention.  Most blogs just don’t want to touch the topic.  But, novelty helmets just don’t share the same distinguishing characteristics as certified helmets.

If we’re being intellectually honest as a group/industry, its important to spotlight helmet considerations in the ongoing debate over motorcycle safety.

The Barns tragedy compelled me to urge motorcyclists to think different–if you’re going to wear a helmet, why not consider or make it a certified one?

Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

UO Football Helmet

UO Football Helmet — Go Ducks!

Different helmets do different things. There are hard hats on construction and heavy-industry heads; football helmets on athletes’ heads, Kevlar® caps on military heads and DOT certified helmets on motorcyclist heads.

None are interchangeable.  However, the motorcyclist in this photo might disagree.

On the weekend I was driving on Highway 217 and came upon this motorcyclist flashing some new reflectivity protective head gear – a University of Oregon football helmet!

I’m not sure if this “learning moment” is one where we ridicule his fashion faux pas or criticize the multiple color combinations of motorcycle, helmet, shirt, pants, socks and shoes, and how they’ll never pass the Nike-design standard.  But, most concerning is the specific amount of retroreflective material on the helmet and how it may well exceed state standards!

Huh?

Yep, a number of states have exact information on the location and number of square inches of retroreflective material required on motorcycle helmets.  I’m currently researching this fun fact and will report an update when I learn if Oregon has such a requirement embedded in the helmet law.

Motorcycle helmets are very sophisticated and specialized for an activity. They’ve been developed carefully and scientifically over the years and wearing a DOT helmet properly strapped on your head is mandatory in the state of Oregon.  If you want to read more about Oregon helmet laws go HERE.  If you’re interested in helmet standards go HERE.  The NHTSA is proposing to amend several aspects of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218, Motorcycle Helmets HERE.

But, this is all a moot point, because this “safety-minded motorcyclist” just planted another seed of doubt in the minds of non-riders – some who already question the rationale of motorcycle ownership in general – that wearing a football helmet means motorcyclists are not responsible people; we don’t take ourselves and motorcycling serious and no matter what the law says, it’s about projecting an attitude…

We’ve heard this tune before.  Many call it stupid and other’s will call it living.

Photo taken by author. 

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Random-CheckpointIn Oregon non-DOT motorcycle helmets are ALLOWED by definition under ORS 801.366.  See page #59 (HERE).

Independent of your views on the usage of these helmets, many riders would agree that motorcycle-ONLY safety checkpoints are inappropriate.  Yet in spite of the activism and involvement from the motorcycle community to stop or prohibit federal funds for motorcycle-ONLY checkpoints the progress hasn’t always been favorable.

Case in point is the Court of Appeals for the New York Second Circuit which backed roadblocks for the purpose of issuing motorcycle citations.

The back story is that in 2007, the New York State Police began using federal taxpayer grant money to target these motorcyclists with the stated objective “to detect motorcycle safety violations and ensure proper registration and operator compliance with New York State’s motorcycle license requirements.  The first roadblock was set up on October 7, 2007 to hit participants returning from a motorcycle rally nearby in Connecticut. Signs were posted on Interstate 84 ordering motorcycle riders to “exit ahead” while a uniformed police officer directed traffic into a rest area. From there, a total of 280 motorcyclists were detained and forced to undergo “full-blown inspections” that generated 104 traffic tickets. The most common citation was for improper helmet.

In 2008, a total of 17 roadblocks were held, detaining 2278 motorcyclists who were issued 600 tickets for infractions that had nothing to do with safety. Another 365 citations were issued for use of an unapproved helmet. Several detained bikers sued the state police after they were detained 45 minutes or more.

In U.S. District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe rejected the motorcyclists’ argument that the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures applied to this case.  To get around the constitutional need for individualized suspicion of wrongdoing before a seizure, courts have created a “special needs” doctrine that allows roadblock programs serving a particular government need.

In this situation, the state produced statistics that showed motorcycle fatalities dropped 17 percent in the same year that motorcycle helmet ticketing increased 2175 percent, and Judge Sharpe agreed this was proof that the roadblock’s primary purpose was safety. The courts then must balance whether the government need to enhance safety is greater than the interference with individual liberty.

The appellate judges agreed with the lower court’s analysis that it was:  “Applying this balancing test, we conclude that the well catalogued public interest in highway safety is well served by the safety checkpoint program and outweighs the interference with individual liberty in this case,” the second circuit ruled in a brief, summary opinion. “Accordingly, the district court did not err in concluding that there was no constitutional violation.” A copy of the summary order of November 29, 2012 is at: Wagner v. Sprague (US Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 11/29/2012).

I choose to wear a DOT approved helmet, but I dislike discriminatory checkpoints.  Have you been to the Laughlin River Run lately and rode out to Oatman, Arizona on the Oatman-Topock Highway?  How about return to the hotel from a concert at the Buffalo Chip during Sturgis week?  Random LEO check points are the norm.  Officers invade your personal space to check for alcohol.

Could Oregon be next to implement similar “safety” initiatives?  Hopefully not, but you might recall that at an ABATE rally in Olympia, WA a few years ago it become a photo op for “profiling” riders and law enforcement writing down license plate information (video HERE).  In 2011, Governor Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5242  which outlaws profiling of motorcyclists and earlier this year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California Bill AB 1047 which outlaws motorcycle only checkpoints.

If motorcycle only checkpoints raise your blood pressure then write or ride to the Oregon capitol in February and talk to your state legislators.  Explain to them that there is no reason why anybody in any state should be profiling any particular group including motorcyclists and you want them to stop it.

Photo courtesy Doug Chanco.  The 2012 Biker Rally at the Capitol HERE.

UPDATE:  Added the link to Oregon helmet law history HERE.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Darrin Sprechar

Driving a motorcycle in the northwest is an exciting experience. The views, the freedom a motorcycle gives you, the expression of individuality that comes from going down the road on two wheels vs. four, are all attractions that thousands of Oregon motorcyclists experience most every day.

Unfortunately, there’s a darker side to driving a motorcycle. Accidents involving motorcycles are more dangerous to the rider than those involving people in automobiles.

That was the situation last week when Paradise Harley-Davidson (PHD) employee, Darrin Sprechar (43) was involved in an accident on Oregon 217 and sustained serious injuries.  Darrin was transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital and Health Center after he rear-ended a vehicle on the highway between Southwest Walker and Canyon roads. The crash occurred in the southbound lanes at about 2:35 p.m.

Although Darrin was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, he 
suffered a traumatic head injury and remains hospitalized and in the ICU.  According to Beaverton Police (Yazzolino) the helmet wasn’t one approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
.
So, let’s reframe the debate — many of us know Darrin from the PHD Service Department — He’s really a nice guy, has a great sense of humor and is 3-dimensional, just like a real person!  Right now he remains in the ICU and it’s unknown when his condition will improve — so is it really time to debate DOT merits?! Really? I’ve read the posts on the forums and press pages.

Instead I suggest it’s time for a good deed.  One that will help bring some happiness to this family during the hazy shade of winter.  The Sunset HOG Chapter is sponsoring a collection for Darrin to help with medical expenses.  You can bring a donation to the next chapter meeting or mail a donation to PO Box 2078, Beaverton, OR 97075.  Or if you prefer you can make a donation HERE however, be advised that 100% of your donation will not go directly to the Sprechar family after the site takes it’s hefty percent of overhead.

We all hope and pray that Darrin’s injury will quickly heal. If you visit this link the family is keeping Darrin’s status updated daily.  For those of you who do contribute,  I’m sure that Darrin and his family would like to personally thank you for your support.
.
Picture courtesy of Caringbridge and Sprechar family.
.
All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Helmet Impact Attenuation Test

Or are they?  Ever wonder what standards and the testing that goes into DOT and/or SNELL certified helmets?

I did, but first some background.

Tucked within the Department of Transportation is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which regulates the performance of motorcycle helmets (among other vehicle products) under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. In accordance with the Safety Act, NHTSA promulgated Standard No. 218, which spells out the testing procedures that helmets sold in the U.S. must satisfy.

One of these procedures is an “impact attenuation test,” which involves the dropping of a helmet from a minimum height of six feet onto an anvil to measure the effect of the impact on the helmet. Id. at S7.1. Another test applies force to a helmet’s chin strap to determine whether the helmet will remain in place during a crash. See id. at S7.3.

Interestingly, Standard 218 relies on self-certification, which means that companies test and certify their own helmets rather than having NHTSA do it for them. When helmets pass the test, the companies place a Department of Transportation (“DOT”) label on them.  NHTSA enforces these requirements by randomly purchasing helmets, employing independent companies to run compliance tests on them and publishing the results.

DOT certified helmets according to conventional wisdom are typically less-expensive than SNELL certified helmets.  I’m not so sure given the internet pricing these days.  At any rate, the SNELL Memorial Foundation (a not-for-profit American organization funded by helmet makers) sets widely adopted standards for helmet performance.  In fact, Formula 1’s sanctioning body, the FIA, has a similar helmet standard that applies to many racing events.  The SNELL certification sticker on a helmet means it has passed a series of tests that hopefully you’ll never experience!  For example a few of the latest SNELL SA 2010 standards (updated every 5 years) are as follows:

Outer Layer: The outer layer is made from a composite such as fiberglass or carbon fiber and covered with a protective enamel coating.  To meet the SA 2010 standard a helmet must be able to withstand a 1450-degree (F) propane flame for 30 seconds during which the padding inside the helmet can’t exceed 158 degrees.

Face Plate: Open face helmets are acceptable for some, but those who want all the protection possible will opt for a full-face helmet with a visor shield.  The SNELL test calls for a visor shield to resist piercing by one-gram lead pellets fired at it in 3 locations at a speed of 311 MPH.  In addition, the shield must endure 1450-degree (F) torch for 45 seconds without melting.

G-Forces: If you take a serious blow to your helmeted head, most of the force is absorbed by the thick layer of foam.  The SNELL standard mandates the helmet must accelerate the head it’s protecting at a peak of no more than 275g after being struck with an anvil at speeds as high as 17 MPH.  Certain procedures subject the helmet to three of these hits in a row.  The structure of the helmet must remain intact.

I don’t think there is anyone out there who is confused about the purpose of a crash helmet, but now when you see the SNELL or DOT symbol you may have a better appreciation of the standards.

Links to some helmet manufactures:  AraiBellPyrotect ProSchuberth GmbHSimpson

Looking for more information?  There is an interesting article written by Dexter Ford, long-term writer for Motorcyclist, who researched and wrote the article in the New York Times entitled “Sorting Out Differences in Helmet Standards.” It was published on September 25, 2009.  Conspiracy advocates believe Ford was fired over the article which angered the magazines advertisers.

Still looking for more?  The court (Cincinnati-based federal appeals) revives a defective motorcycle helmet claim against Fulmer Helmets HERE.

Photo courtesy of NY Times/Jim Brown.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Schuberth Helmets

With more than 70 years of experience, Schuberth GmbH has developed a wide range of superb products and is a trailblazer in head protection technology. I’ve previously posted about their laser scan process, price and number of carbon fiber layers the helmets contain HERE for Formula 1 racers.

Schuberth has just opened its North American headquarters and selected the “OC” – specifically, Aliso Viejo as opposed to the east coast because as we all know “Cali,” is the hub of the motorcycle industry, especially motorcycle media in Southern California.  In this down economy the company hired six full-time employees and more than 12 consultants. The consultants will be on the road to help business associates, and will mostly be located in Southern California too.

But, this is not today’s big news.  The big story today is John Mayer (music recording artist) deleted his Twitter account!  Mayer frequently used the social networking website to apologize for offensive statements he’s made and fight with Perez Hilton, among other things.  Mayer had more than 3.7 million followers, but don’t be depressed as going forward he plans to communicate even more with fans through his blog.  So, several celeb’s (Miley Cyrus, Ricky Gervais, Amanda Bynes, Demi Lovato, and LeAnn Rimes) have left Twitter? You must be kidding! Hello, Ripley’s? No, you cannot put me on hold. This is a worldwide exclusive. I’m sitting on a powder keg here.

Do we care?  I don’t, and promise not to revert to junior high school with gossip-girl digs, but that isn’t my point.  The point is that today we get our information from one another.  Our news is personalized.  We are experiencing a revolution.  Caused by the computer, aided by the Internet, old media monoliths are crumbling and seedlings are popping up all over.  The old guard is protesting, wannabes are struggling for a toehold in the decaying old game and newbies are reinventing the media business unchallenged and unknown.

The only way to be successful today is to create a phenomenal product that members of the public embrace and spread to their friends.  Hype a crappy product and you might get some old wave press, but you won’t make any money.

As a “newbie” to this old media monolith, I wanted to pass along that Schuberth’s helmet’s are innovative, modern and pumped full of high-technology.  I hope to try out the DOT version of the popular C3 (with integrated bluetooth Schuberth Rider Communication (SRC) System) which will be available in N.A. dealers any day now.

If anyone has experience with Schuberth helmets let me know what you liked or didn’t.

Photo courtesy of Schuberth blog.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: