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Bipartisan bill would prohibit motorcycle-only checkpoints

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Susan Collins (R-ME) today reintroduced 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 provided 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. 

“Motorcycles are an important part of New Hampshire’s identity and economy and checkpoints that target just motorcyclists are both discriminatory and ineffective,” Senator Shaheen said. “Motorcycle riders already have their vehicles inspected and registered just like all motorists and they shouldn’t be unfairly targeted simply because of their type of vehicle. We don’t have checkpoints that stop cars to check their tire pressure and we shouldn’t have them for motorcycles either.”

“I’m pleased to be able to team with Senator Shaheen and others again on this bipartisan legislative effort,” Senator Johnson said. “Congress should prioritize federal spending, so it makes sense for us to stop providing tax dollars to states for the establishment of prejudicial motorcycle-only highway checkpoints.  My concern stems from the obvious violations of personal freedoms that occur when citizens can be stopped and searched solely because of their chosen modes of transportation. As a member of the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, I will push for a public hearing on the bill.”

“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,” Senator 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 integral part of New Hampshire’s recreation and economy, and today we renew our opposition to the use of federal funds to pay for discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints,” said Senator Ayotte. "Motorcyclists shouldn't be unfairly targeted just because they're driving a motorcycle and not a car, and our bipartisan bill would protect the rights of motorcyclists to abide by the same laws as other motor vehicles."

“As the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I am committed to keeping our nation's roads safe and accessible to all travelers,” said Senator Collins. “The Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act would help prevent the unfair discrimination of motorcyclists through federally-funded motorcycle-only checkpoints.”

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.