To push their own agenda, members of several Washington State governmental agencies have; misrepresented the facts, disregarded data, or exempted data that skewed their studies away from their desired result. What may be most distressing is that this seems to only be a loosely coordinated agenda. With different agencies using different numbers to discuss the same data. For example, the Washington State Patrol (who reports their data to NHTSA), Washington Dept. of Transportation, and the Washington Dept. of Licensing cannot even agree on the number of motorcycle fatalities each year. Even though they are all parts of the same state government, their numbers are significantly different.
As you can see, there is a consistent and significant difference in data between state agencies reporting motorcycle fatalities in Washington State. As you can see, their numbers only came close to matching once in a ten year period. How is that possible when they all claim to be reporting on the same factor, yet their data is so completely different as to insure error in reporting and forecasts that bring into question the voracity of the data being presented.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission on its website repeatedly quotes data from 2012-2014. However if one actually looks at the information being presented, in many cases it simply does not add up. It claims that; "Only 8 percent of the riders involved in fatalities were not wearing helmets." Those numbers don't add up. During the period 2012-2014, 3.6% of riders involved in fatalities were not wearing helmets, not 8%. In that period, that is a difference of ten (10) riders, a 4.4% error in their information on only that one point.
The WTSC also proclaims that helmets are 37% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths. Yet, their source for that piece of data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also states that 81% of helmeted fatalities and 64% of non-helmeted fatalities are due to injuries other than the head. So basically, in two out of three non-helmeted fatalities, and four out of five helmeted fatalities, the helmet was irrelevant. This isn't to say they did not provide some measure of protection, but what other piece of motor vehicle equipment would you stand to be mandated to use when it is only effective in a questionable 37% of the time? I also find it amusing that the concept of automobile occupants being mandated to wear helmets is considered laughable in the legislature. Even though the Centers for Disease Control have found that an automobile occupant involved in a collision is ten times more likely to go to the ER with a head injury, six times more likely to be hospitalized for a head injury, and four and a half times more likely to die from a head injury than a motorcyclist involved in a collision. Don't believe me? Check the 2010 CDC report "Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States". and you'll find the info between pages 30 and 41. See for yourself, it isn't difficult to find the information.
Perhaps this next excerpt from the WTSC's website is even more telling. As it places the agencies desire to reach an unattainable goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries within the next 12 years above the wishes of members of the community who actually are affected by this law to the extent that they oppose any measure to amend the helmet bill by blindly disseminating the same incorrect data that I have just demonstrated. "This is important because there are annual challenges to Washington's helmet laws by advocate wishing the law repealed. To reach zero fatalities and serious injuries, it is important that this law stay in place." This should demonstrate that the agencies agenda is being placed placed above the will of the people.
On another issue; that of lane-sharing (or lane-splitting), several agencies in Washington State are clinging tenaciously to 'Target Zero' claiming the practice is dangerous and will cost more lives. They openly dismiss multiple studies demonstrating the polar opposite to be true. All without showing any evidence to the contrary other than some deceptively edited video clips showing motorcyclists riding illegally and dangerously getting into collisions. However the videos are edited to give the impression that both riders were killed. Which the full clips show is certainly not the case. In both un-cut clips being shown the riders are shown to get back up on their feet, and relatively unharmed. Proving the very point that supporters of lane-sharing have been claiming to be true all along.
Another example of Washington State's Transportation Agenda being distorted is the 2011 Washington State Dept. of Transportation study on center line rumble strips. In this study, the number of fatal motorcycle crashes on newly rumble stripped highway rose from 30% to 53%. That is a 44% increase in fatalities after rumble stripping. Yet instead of asking why the number of motorcycle fatalities rose, WADOT's researchers simply decided to 'exclude' motorcycles from the study. This is the actually explanation from the study itself; "it is clear that they are skewing portions of the CLRS analysis. For that reason, these 35 motorcycle collisions were excluded from the dataset."
So because a sharp rise in motorcycle fatalities "skewed" the dataset, instead of trying to understand why, the motorcycle fatalities were simply 'excluded' from the information that formed the data for the study. Since the rumble strips were being introduced to have an effect on drowsy and fatigued drivers, the fact that they may have an unintended effect on motorcycle safety seems to have been considered irrelevant. In the follow-up 2013 study, there is no mention of motorcycles at all. So it would seem that WADOT is not truly concerned with 'Target Zero' if it applies to motorcyclists.
There is more, but I will let you have fun finding it. Their actions certainly don't fit the words they provide the legislators. They don't appear to really consider motorcycles a worthy vehicle to use their roadways. They just haven't been able to get completely rid of us yet.
Too many of the legislators still see us as the stereotypical bum on some cheap death trap of a motorcycle. I recently had the pleasure of discussing some of the issues we will be working for during the next legislative session with a legislator who wished t get a better 'feel' for motorcyclists. He had asked to arrange our meeting at a Harley-Davidson dealership. It was humorous to see the look on his face when he realized the prices on the packed showroom floor. Most were more expensive then the vintage BMW he drove to the dealership. It was definitely an eye opener for him. That is what we need more of, to open the eyes of legislators to who motorcyclists truly are,
Catch you on the road sometime...