Congress is currently considering legislation that would provide monetary grants to states mandating random safety checkpoints for motorcycles. Georgia and New York already have similar programs in place and the grants under consideration would encourage other states to implement similar laws.
According to this Los Angeles Time article, the impetus behind the passage of this legislation is to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents:
In 2009, 4,462 motorcyclists were killed, a decrease of 16% from the previous year, according to the most recent figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Twenty-two percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2009 were riding without a valid motorcycle license at the time of the collision, compared with 12% of drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes who lacked a valid license, according to the agency.
So, how effective are the checkpoints? Do they actually prevent accidents and protect motorcyclists and others on the road? Perhaps. Unfortunately, the jury’s still out:
Of approximately 27,000 motorcyclists that passed through their checkpoints last year, about 2,500 were stopped for closer inspection, Halvorsen said. Of those, 380 were ticketed for an illegal helmet. Six motorcyclists were arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Forty-nine motorcyclists were ticketed for operating a motorcycle without the proper license class. A total of 1,665 tickets were issued.
Not everyone supports this proposed legislation. According to opponents of the law, including the American Motorcyclist Association, the potential benefits don’t outweigh the significant violation of motorcyclist’s rights. Instead the association argues that efforts to protect motorcyclists should be aimed at preventing crashes rather than arbitrarily stopping and searching motorcyclists.
And, even some lawmakers agree and have suggested that taxpayer dollars would be better spent on educational programs intended to prevent crashes from ever occurring.
What do you think? Is it fair to target motorcyclists over other types of motorists? Do these types of laws have the intended effect of making the roads safer by preventing motorcycle accidents or do they unnecessarily violate the rights of motorcyclists?