Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys® – Lawmaker questions if Centers for Disease Control is attempting to reduce motorcycle use.
Recently we covered an article regarding a federal task force that wants a mandatory helmet law (http://www.russbrown.com/motorcycle-lawyer-blog/8815/mandatory-helmet-laws-usa.html) and the ensuing reaction from the American Motorcyclist Association debating the need for this action.
Adding to the situation is U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich) who is questioning whether the federally funded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in fact attempting to reduce motorcycle ridership nationwide by pursing the need for a mandatory helmet law at a federal level.
Walberg is also questioning the CDC over the alleged economic impacts they cited in an effort to support this legislation. The congressman drafted a letter to question the findings after thoroughly analyzing a presentation entitled “Economic Impact of Motorcycle Helmet Law: A Systematic Review.”
The presentation was made by the Helmet Law Review Team of the Community Preventive Services Task Force on Oct. 23. As mentioned in the original article, this 15-member task force is appointed by the CDC director and makes recommendations to the CDC – and reports to the U.S. Congress – about community preventive services, programs and policies to improve health.
Additionally, Walberg is questioning the economic impact that was cited by the task force and its ensuing contradictory information. The congressman is a lifelong motorcyclist and life member of the AMA; he’s also a member of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus.
He has questioned CDC Director Thomas Frieden in a letter dated Nov. 21 “…is it the goal or strategy of the CDC to reduce the use of motorcycles – a legal mode of transportation – by recommending and pursuing a federal helmet law? If so, how would this strategy be implemented and by what authority would it be instituted?”
Justly so, Walberg is also questioning whether the CDC is the correct federal agency to make recommendations regarding transportation issues. The CDC is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which is the same entity managing the Obamacare website.
The task force – which is comprised predominately of medical doctors with many illustrious big letters after their names – is preparing to recommend that all 50 states have universal helmet laws. This translates to all riders being subject to this proposed law.
Walberg astutely blows proverbial holes into the findings and conclusions. One item that has the attention of the congressman is, “…infers a positive awareness of helmet laws with the potential for reduced motorcycle use.”
“The presentation goes on to conclude that ‘economic evidence shows that universal motorcycle helmet laws produce substantial economic benefits, and these benefits greatly exceed expected costs,’ however, there is no reference whatsoever to the significant economic costs anticipated by reducing motorcycle use,” writes Walberg. “In fact, the only costs identified by the Task Force on slide 37 are the costs of purchasing a motorcycle helmet and the enactment and enforcement costs of helmet laws, which are concluded to be negligible,” Walberg said. “Not only does this contradict the earlier findings about how imposing motorcycle laws would discourage motorcycle use, but it ignores the positive economic impact motorcyclists provide.
“Motorcyclists not only enjoy riding on American roads, they also spend billions of dollars touring and attending rallies,” he said. “Reducing motorcycle use would have a detrimental effect on the motorcycle industry, dealer sales, tourism, associated employment and related tax revenues. As an avid and experienced motorcycle rider, I believe government should be in the business of promoting the recreational, economic and environmental benefits of responsible motorcycle riding – not discouraging it.”
“The AMA doesn’t understand why the Centers for Disease Control is involving itself in motorcycling when it is supposed to be protecting Americans from diseases,” says Wayne Allard who is currently the AMA VP for government relations and himself a former U.S. representative and U.S. senator representing Colorado. Allard praised Walberg for “asking some tough questions that need to be asked.”
Allard continued by saying, “Motorcycling is not a disease that needs to be eradicated. It’s a legal form of transportation and a source of responsible recreation for millions of Americans nationwide. We anxiously await the CDC’s answers to Rep. Walberg’s questions.
While the AMA is a strong advocate for helmet use it also believes that helmet use – for adults – should be voluntary. The AMA would prefer to see more emphasis placed on awareness programs for the driving community at large as a way to prevent motorcycle wrecks.
To read the AMA position on voluntary helmet use, go to