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Coast to Coast Legislative Report from AIM and Bill Bish for November 2012

From New Jersey Banning Smiles, to EPA MC tests Banned in Arizona, and Talking Vehicles

By Bill Bish, thanks to Richard Lester and NCOM, with photos from the Bob T. collection

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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


Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)

This year’s national Christmas Tree is being delivered to Washington, D.C. in a specially-decorated Mack truck driven by former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a long-serving member of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists Legislative Task Force (NCOM-LTF) and member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

As an avid motorcyclist, Campbell was one of motorcycling’s staunchest allies in Congress, representing Colorado from 1993-2005.

"It is a privilege to drive the tree for the U.S. Capitol from Colorado this year," remarked Campbell, who still has his commercial driver’s license. The 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree tour began Nov. 9 in Meeker, CO where the 73-foot Engleman spruce was harvested, and will take nearly a month to reach the Capitol with scheduled stopovers in Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Maricopa County is the only place in America that requires emissions testing for motorcycles, but it won’t be for much longer according to a recent report from MMA of Arizona Lobbyist Bobbi Hartmann, who is also a member of the NCOM-Legislative Task Force; “The EPA is about to APPROVE the ADEQ's State Implementation Plan (SIP), requesting the ELIMINATION OF EMISSIONS ON MOTORCYCLES IN MARICOPA COUNTY!!!” Emphasis included, so you can read into it the emotion and thrill of success after ten years of effort to eliminate the last motorcycle emissions test in the U.S.

After the Kentucky Motorcycle Association (KMA/KBA) successfully removed motorcycles from their state's emissions testing several years ago, Arizona was the lone state to still require it, but testing was limited to only Maricopa County (Phoenix) after motorcyclists successfully lobbied to end emission tests for motorcycles in Pima County (Tucson).

Hartmann reports that she recently received a call from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), stating that although they had been expecting a “Disapproval Notice” from the EPA due to revised ozone levels at the federal level, their D.C. headquarters issued a Reversal of Opinion and approved their request for elimination of yearly motorcycle emissions in Maricopa/Pinal County (AREA A).

“ADEQ expects the proposed EPA action to be signed this week and published in the Federal Register within 2 weeks,” explained Hartmann. “That starts the approximately 30 day Public Comment and EPA response to Public Comment period. Once that is complete, the EPA will sign the final action and then have 2 weeks to publish that in the Federal Register. The entire process should be FINAL and EFFECTIVE 60 days from that time frame, so the elimination of yearly emissions on motorcycles in AREA A should be effective by the end of first quarter of 2013 or before. It seems that all of our efforts from 2002 until now, have finally paid off!!”

CONGRATULATIONS to the motorcyclists’ lobbying team representing a coalition led by ABATE of Arizona, the Modified Motorcycle Association (MMA) of Arizona and the Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (ACMC).

A flurry of scientific and medical studies lately have identified an inordinate amount of hearing loss in motorcyclists, due not to “loud pipes” but rather to air rushing past our ears at deafening intensities at highway speeds. After accelerating, most of the sound that a rider hears isn’t engine noise, it is wind noise, and audiologists admit that even helmets do not provide much protection against hearing loss caused by wind buffeting in and around a helmet.

Indeed, acoustical engineers say that audible wind noise inside a helmet can reach rock-concert levels as high as 115 decibels, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health warns that exposure to noise at 100 decibels is safe for only 15 minutes and permanent hearing loss can result from prolonged exposure -- so motorcycle riders in particular should pay attention to the warning signs: a ringing sound in the ears immediately after exposure, and hearing voices and other sounds as muffled.

Noise-induced hearing loss isn’t reversible, but it is preventable. While even the most expensive helmet won't provide significant protection against noise, an inexpensive pair of foam earplugs, readily available at drug stores, can reduce sound levels by 20 to 25 decibels.

However, this simple solution may also be illegal.

Even though riders have come to recognize that noise can be a serious health issue, many U.S. jurisdictions prohibit the use of earplugs, and one long road trip could take a rider through numerous changes in state and local laws.

Just ask Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney Ralph C. Buss whose client, a truck driver from Michigan, was pulled over while riding his motorcycle in Ohio and given a ticket for wearing protective ear plugs!

The rider contacted ABATE of Ohio seeking assistance, and while ABATE looks into modifying the existing law to make allowances for motorcyclists to wear ear protection, they referred the motorcyclist to attorney Buss regarding the citation, which is a moving violation that in addition to a fine carries a 2 point penalty that could put his CDL and livelihood in jeopardy if he’s found guilty.

Although some states like California have changed their laws to allow riders to use hearing protectors, and Maryland allows custom-made earplugs only, most passed such laws years ago to thwart the use of stereo headphones while driving. The codes do not distinguish between earphones and earplugs; one being used for audio equipment and the other used for hearing protection -- so without case law to establish legislative intent, obsolete laws like Ohio’s need to be rectified, which according to Buss “is exactly why motorcyclists need organizations like ABATE to not only watchdog the legislature, working to pass pro-motorcycle laws and prevent anti-bike bills from passing, but also to clean-up old laws that need to take into consideration both motorcycles and motorcyclists.”


HOT lanes are replacing the HOV lanes on some interstates in Georgia starting with I-85, and will require a toll for their use by all vehicles except those which are exempt. Fortunately, just as motorcycles are able to use the existing HOV high occupancy lanes, they will be also permitted in the HOT lanes toll-free as exempt vehicles, but will need a Peach Pass device.

Peach Pass devices are available from Georgia’s State Road & Tollway Authority at 1-855-PCH-PASS (724-7277), or you can find more information at

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation restricting protests at military and other funerals.

Senate Bill 661, by Senator Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, prohibits picketing a funeral within 300 feet of a burial or memorial site beginning one hour before a funeral and ending one hour after, having been amended to comply with a 2011 Supreme Court decision regarding protests of military funerals by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, known for its anti-Semitic and anti-gay views.

"Since time immemorial, society has respected the dignity and sacredness of putting the dead to rest," Lieu said in a prepared statement. "This bill recognizes the sanctity of funerals by placing reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on disruptive protestors."

Although the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called upon states and the federal government to pass motorcycle helmet laws for all riders, this year’s annual “Top Ten Most Wanted List” of the agency’s most important safety priorities no longer lists any motorcycle safety concerns.

After making the hit list the past three years, which are recommendations to government bodies that are often put into place through further laws and regulations, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman indicated that "Safety areas are dropped from the list when meaningful progress has been made."


Could your future Honda motorcycle converse with the car coming out of the side street up ahead to alert the driver that you’re approaching?

Well, only if they are each fitted with technology that can communicate with similarly-equipped vehicles to keep each other out of harm's way, according to the picture Honda painted at the 19th World ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) Congress, held in Vienna in October.

The “Motorcycle Approaching Indication” application is a connectivity system that warns both driver and rider when it detects that there is an obscured vehicle potentially approaching their direction of travel. Honda first proposed such a system in 1999, and demoed a version in 2008 on a Gold Wing. It has since refined ITS for more compact bikes, and so far warning systems for the two most common types of car-bike collisions - T-boning and being cut off by a car turning left - have been demoed successfully.

ITS could potentially also communicate with roadside infrastructure, warning of hazards in the road.

Two heads aren’t always better than one, as TWO bike thieves have landed up in the hospital after crashing their stolen motorcycles - into each other.

The bungling bikers collided and crashed on a roundabout in Sussex, England, after the two stolen bikes were seen being ridden at high speed together shortly before the collision.

New Jersey residents may not have much to smile about in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, but that’ll make it easier to comply with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s ban on smiling for driver’s license photos.

That’s because, according to the National Motorists Association (NMA), drivers showing off their pearly whites apparently confuses the new facial recognition software New Jersey launched earlier this year. The stated aim of the system is to prevent people from acquiring driver’s licenses under alternate identities by comparing photographs in the database.

New Jersey is not alone in its integration of facial recognition into the driver’s licensing process. According to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, most states use some form of driver’s license facial recognition.

Welcome to the world of biometrics -- the use of unique physical or behavioral characteristics to verify an individual’s identity, and as surveillance cameras become ubiquitous and capable of recording finer detail, tracking of individuals (whether they’re in their cars, or not) will become easier and easier.

In the wake of 9/11, policymakers called for stronger national standards to verify the identity of driver’s license applicants. This led to the Real ID Act of 2005 which established requirements for a national identification system based on the driver’s license. Among the 18 benchmarks the states must comply with is the implementation of facial recognition.??Despite being enacted seven years ago, Real ID has not been fully implemented. Many states, citing a range of privacy and budget concerns, have rejected the act through statute or legislative resolution, or have simply refused to comply.

QUOTABLE QUOTE: “The price of freedom of religion or of speech or of the press is that we must put up with, and even pay for, a good deal of rubbish.”
~ Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), US Supreme Court justice

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