U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would prohibit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from issuing grants to states for motorcycle-only checkpoints. The NHTSA initiated the Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration Program in 2009, which provides states with funds to conduct discriminatory, motorcycle-only checkpoints where riders are specifically targeted by police to check that their vehicles meet state standards for noise, handlebar length, tire condition and a range of other legal requirements.
The bipartisan effort would block federal resources from funding these types of discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints. Currently, motorcycle riders are already subject to state registration, inspection, licensing and helmet laws and must stop at sobriety check points like all other motorists.
"Requiring bikers to drive through motorcycle-only checkpoints is not only an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars, but it also raises legitimate questions about discrimination against motorcyclists. In West Virginia, bikers travel near and far to drive on our winding roads and enjoy the beautiful scenery, which attracts tourism and helps boost both our local and state economies," Manchin said. "As a Harley owner myself, I am pleased to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan legislation that simply would prohibit yet another senseless and unreasonable federal regulation which could harm states' economies."
"Motorcycles are an important part of New Hampshire's identity and economy," Shaheen said. "These checkpoints unfairly target motorcycle riders who already have their vehicles inspected and registered just like all motorists. We don't have checkpoints that stop cars to check their tire pressure and we shouldn't for motorcycles either."
"Wisconsin can boast of hundreds of thousands of responsible and law-abiding motorcycle riders on America's roads," Johnson said. "To them, safety is as important as scenery, so I'm deeply concerned the establishment of these checkpoints unfairly, and perhaps unconstitutionally, violates their personal freedoms and rights. The NHTSA grant program in question is a one-size-fits-all approach, will not address the primary causes of motorcycle accidents, and should be stopped."
"Motorcyclists shouldn't be pulled over simply because they're driving a motorcycle and not a car," Ayotte said. "It doesn't make sense to use federal money to pay for discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints, and I'm pleased to see bipartisan support for the rights of motorcyclists."
Evidence suggests that motorcycle-only checkpoints do not effectively reduce motorcycle injuries or fatalities and do not address the factors that are the main contributors to motorcycle accidents. Accordingly, NHTSA does not list the practice in its own 2013 Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Offices, which details policies and activities that the agency considers effective at reducing crash injuries and fatalities.