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Old 08-22-2016, 11:30 AM  
karen karen is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: ny
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Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)

Without conceding, Harley-Davidson will pay $15 million in fines and penalties to settle a federal lawsuit brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) accusing the American motorcycle-maker of selling illegal performance devices that increase pollution.

Under terms of the settlement on Thursday, August 19, 2016 Harley is to stop selling its "Screamin' Eagle" Pro Super Tuners by August 23, and to buy back and destroy all such tuners in stock at its dealerships. H-D must also deny warranty claims if owners continue to use the "illegal devices."

The consent decree resolves government allegations that Harley-Davidson sold roughly 340,000 "super tuners" since 2008 that, once installed, cause motorcycles to emit higher amounts of certain air pollutants than what the Milwaukee-based manufacturer certified to the EPA. According to the EPA, the modified settings increase power and performance, but also increase the motorcycles’ emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.

Harley did not admit liability, and said in a statement it disagrees with the government's position arguing that the devices were designed and sold to be used in "competition only." The Motor Company said the settlement represents "a good faith compromise with the EPA on areas of law we interpret differently, particularly EPA's assertion that it is illegal for anyone to modify a certified vehicle even if it will be used solely for off-road/closed-course competition."

An EPA spokesman said that the vast majority of these tuners were used on public roads, and the sale of such "defeat devices" violates the federal Clean Air Act. Harley was also accused of selling more than 12,600 motorcycles that were not covered by an EPA certification that ensures a vehicle meets federal clean air standards.

"Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the sale of illegal after-market defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities," said John Cruden, head of the Justice Department's environmental and natural resources division.

The EPA has been investigating after-market part emission issues for more than five years. In 2012, Suzuki Motor Corp paid an $885,000 fine to EPA for selling 25,458 ATVs and dirt bikes because they were built to allow for the installation of an after-market part that increased horsepower and emissions.

California has become the first state to formally recognize lane splitting as a legal maneuver for motorcyclists, as Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 51 into law on Friday, August 19, 2016.

The legislation does not specify rules for lane splitting, but simply a) defines lane splitting as “driving a motorcycle, that has 2 wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, as specified”; and b) authorizes the California Highway Patrol (CHP), in consult with other agencies and organizations, to “develop educational guidelines relating to lane splitting in a manner that would ensure the safety of the motorcyclist, drivers and passengers.”

Lane splitting has long existed in a legal gray area in California, without being expressly prohibited nor allowed, but permitted by law enforcement. The CHP published educational guidelines on lane-splitting in 2012, but regulators later ruled the agency had no authority to make public policy.

The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Assembly members Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), passed unanimously through the state Senate 38-0 and the Assembly 74-0 and essentially clarifies that the CHP does in fact have the authority and permission to devise guidelines for splitting lanes.

Many studies have found proper lane splitting to be safe, and the practice of "filtering" through traffic to reduce congestion is legal in much of the world.

NCOM Board Member Dave “Animal” Reid (Touring Groups Liaison to the National Coalition of Motorcyclists) recently reported that; “I sent a letter to my congresswoman about the EPA’s desire to increase the ethanol content up from E-10 to E-15, and what it might do to all manner of small and air cooled motors.

She responded, saying that a congressman from Texas had introduced a bill that would prohibit the EPA Administrator from introducing anything greater than 9.7% into the fuel supplies.

Folks of both our Confederation of Clubs (COC) and ABATE inquired about the bill, and I’ve tracked it in the U.S. House of Representatives - it’s fresh and has quite a list of co-sponsors, so with other changes happening in the world, with the bipartisan support it seems to have, it may see some forward movement."

That measure, House Resolution 5180, was introduced on May 10, 2016 by U.S. Representative Bill Flores (R-TX) "to alleviate the ethanol blend wall under the renewable fuel program," and has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. H.R. 5180 currently has 103 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle.

The bill effectively circumvents the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandates for increasing levels of ethanol in our gasoline, capping the level at E-10, stating "the Administrator shall not determine any renewable fuel obligation for a calendar year that would result, directly or indirectly, in the introduction into commerce in the United States of a total volume of ethanol contained in transportation fuel that is greater than 9.70 percent of the total volume of gasoline projected to be sold or introduced into commerce in the United States for such calendar year."

"Blue Dot" tail lights, so-called because a blue crystal mounted in the center of the red lens cover emits a violet hue when actuated, have become popular with motorcyclists for both customization and conspicuity, but most states' traffic codes specify that a tail light must be red in color, and therefore they are illegal.

Supported by ABATE of Illinois, House Bill 4105 amends the Illinois Vehicle Code to "Provide that motorcycles may be equipped with a blue light or lights of up to one inch in diameter located on the rear of the motorcycle as a part of the motorcycle's rear stop lamp or lamps," and was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on July 22, 2016, becoming effective January 1st.

Motorcyclists and motorists in Pennsylvania will no longer have to wait at a traffic light that is locked on red, as Governor Tom Wolf signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) that allows drivers of all vehicles the option to proceed with caution through an intersection when a traffic signal is unresponsive, only after exercising due care as provided by law.

“If the vehicle detection system fails to recognize the vehicle and the driver has come to a complete stop, the driver must then make sure it is safe to continue, and only then would they be able to lawfully proceed with caution through the intersection,” Bloom explained to FOX43 News in Harrisburg, PA.

Originally intended only for motorcycles, which often fail to trigger traffic lights due to their smaller size, Senate Bill 1267 was expanded to apply to all vehicles.

Deemed “Ride on Red,” Bloom added that the goal of the legislation is to solve practical problems while ensuring safety. “This law does not give drivers a free pass, but ensures a safe and legal option to avoid the danger and inconvenience of being trapped in perpetuity at a locked red light,” Bloom said. “This issue is more common than many people realize, especially on rural roads or during late hours when long periods often elapse before a heavier vehicle comes along to finally trip the unresponsive light.”

Signed into law on July 20, 2016 as part of Act 101, the new law takes effect 60 days after the bill-signing, near the end of September.

Not only have inattentive Pokémon GO players caused accidents with everything from motorcycles to police cars, it gets even more dangerous when teenagers get behind the wheel with their phones. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 59% of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel, and highlights a disturbing trend showing that texting and social media use are on the rise amongst teen drivers.

In collaboration with researchers at the University of Iowa, as part of the most comprehensive eight-year research project ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers, the AAA Foundation analyzed the moments leading up to a crash in more than 2,200 videos captured from in-car dash cameras:
- Talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle: 15% of crashes
- Talking, texting or operating a cell phone: 12% of crashes
- Attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle: 11% of crashes

This supports findings by Pew Research Center, which shows text messaging has become a key component in day-to-day interactions among teenagers. Fifty-five percent of teens spend time every day texting, sending an estimated 80 text messages per day.

Research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. A recent AAA Foundation survey shows that nearly 50% of teen drivers admitted they had read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days.

NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey also shows that from 2007 to 2014, the percentage of young drivers seen visibly manipulating a hand-held device quadrupled.

Some states have laws against using a cell phone while driving for any reason, but most do not.
Of states, 39% ban cell phone use for under 18 and 46% ban texting while driving.

"This has been a bad year for motorcycle crashes," says Annette Torrez, chair of the New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization (NMMRO) and member of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) Board of Directors.

"Please take a moment to watch this PSA on motorcycle safety awareness.... ONE MISTAKE CAN HAUNT YOU FOREVER (

Richard Sturgeon, a New Mexico Motorcycle Safety Advocate from Los Alamos National Lab, stars as the Dead Zombie biker in this powerful film produced by Sam Crooks of Sam's Commercials to be presented at the Reel Deal movie theater in Los Alamos.

"I am hoping NM DOT will use this PSA," Torrez said, adding that "we are also waiting to hear about the LOOK OUT FOR MOTORCYCLES signs to go up soon in high motorcycle crash locations in the Albuquerque area, all purchased with private donations.”

Yamaha Motor Co. is working on the use of artificial intelligence to enhance motorcycle safety. The system, developed jointly with a U.S. research body, is based on the same one revealed last year that allows humanoid robots to test ride motorcycles.

The objective is to reduce motorcycle spills, said company President Hiroyuki Yanagi. “We want to facilitate driving operations of our motorcycles and reduce the burden on riders to allow them to pay more attention to safety,” said Yanagi.

Yamaha hopes to reverse slumping domestic sales by adopting advanced technologies to reduce motorcycle accidents such as overturns and collisions.

“We’ll use the expertise we’ve acquired from robots for our motorcycles,” Yanagi said. “We’ll promote the development of technologies to make motorcycle driving easier.”

QUOTABLE QUOTE: "In any free society, the conflict between social conformity and individual liberty is permanent, unresolvable, and necessary."
~ Kathleen Norris (1880-1966) novelist and columnist


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