Motorcyclist News

This section contains SMARTER News and Notable News from Other Sources related to motorcyclist safety issues. The latest news is listed first. News regarding recent research may be noted in this section; however the actual research papers or links to the papers will be posted in our Research section. We encourage visitors to our site to e-mail us at regarding significant motorcyclist safety news or go to our Facebook page to share the information.


Oklahoma RiderCoach Education Conference

May 7, 2024 - SMARTER representative a featured presenter at the Oklahoma RiderCoach Education Conference held at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ball Park  

SMARTER presents workshop Looking Twice Isn’t Enough: a look at the root causes of motorcyclist crashes

April 13, 2024 - SMARTER presents workshop Looking Twice Isn’t Enough: a look at the root causes of motorcyclist crashes at the 2024 Michigan Traffic Safety Summit held March 12 & 13. This is an edited version of the presentation slides of DeAnna Ward, SMARTER treasurer, RiderCoach Trainer and Co-Chairman of the Michigan Motorcyclist Safety Action Team.

SMARTER Presents Workshop on Inattentional Blindness at 2023 SMSA National Training Summit.

October 9, 2023 - SMARTER President Dan Petterson, Ed.D. presented a workshop session titled Inattentional Blindness: what drivers can do to avoid the Looked But Failed to See crash with motorcyclists at the national conference of the State Motorcycle Safety Association held in Columbus, OH September 13-16. Blocked vision, inattentional blindness, saccadic masking, motion camouflage and size-arrival effect all come into play when drivers search for hazards at intersections. Understanding of these phenomena underlie the “what can drivers do?" question.  A video produced by Michigan Department of State which presents an enhanced search procedure developed by SMARTER was a part of the presentation and can be accessed at  

SMARTER Presents Workshop on Ride-along Factors at 2023 SMSA National Training Summit.

October 9, 2023 - SMARTER Board Vice-Chairperson Xu Simon, Ph.D. and President Dan Petterson, Ed.D. co-presented a session titled Fatal Motorcyclist Crashes - A Look at Ride-along Factors at the national conference of the State Motorcycle Safety Association held in Columbus, OH September 13-16. A number of factors are regularly associated with fatal motorcyclists’ crashes. The term “ride-along” has been used to describe the factors frequently associated with fatal motorcyclist crashes. Do the ride-along factors contribute to causing the crash, contribute to the fatality, both or neither? This presentation addressed these questions.  

SMARTER presents at Michigan 2023 Traffic Safety Summit

June 14, 2023 - SMARTER presented a breakout workshop session titled Wind in my Hair - The Cost of Going Without a Motorcycle helmet. The session provided a look at the Michigan motorcyclist crash and fatality data for the ten-year period following the repeal of the Michigan all-rider motorcycle helmet requirement, the economic cost associated with the repeal and an overview of MI specific research conducted following the repeal. The cost of the “adult choice” requirement compared to an all-rider requirement for the years 2012 – 2022 equals over $2 billion and 200-300 lives.  

SMARTER President presents workshop at National SMSA Training Summit

September 18, 2022 - This is the PowerPoint presentation Dr. Petterson used during his workshop presentation September 16, 2022. Understanding the four chances for error and the associated visual phenomena is helpful in furthering our understanding of the Looked But Failed to See (LBFTS) Right-of-Way Violation (ROWV) motorcyclist/car collision scenario. Knowing these four chances for error, and the associated phenomena, is helpful in formulating recommended actions for both riders and drivers that will lessen the chances of these types of collisions occurring. Included in this presentation is a description of a SMARTER developed driver search system that is an effective alternative to the old “look left, look right, look left again” search procedure.  

Preventing Motorcycle Rider Deaths

September 4, 2022 - This is a "My View" article published in the Holland (Michigan) Sentinel.

Remembering and honoring Donald L. Smith, Ph.D.

December 6, 2021 - This is a special edition of Riding Smart, the SMARTER member newsletter. Dr. Don Smith, Professor Emeritus Michigan State University died on November 8, 2021. He was 93-years-old. Don had a 50-year career of service to the Michigan highway traffic and motorcyclist safety communities. He was the driving force behind the creation and 2007 incorporation of the Skilled Motorcyclist Association - Responsible, Trained and Educated Riders, Inc.

SMARTER Receives Award

May 27, 2021 - SMARTER is recognized by the Michigan Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC).  SMARTER was presented the Richard H. Austin  Award for long-term contributions and commitment to traffic safety at a virtual  awards ceremony held May 27, 2021. President Petterson makes Award Acceptance Comments.

SMARTER Opposes Maryland SB 712 – Helmet Repeal

February 23, 2021 - SMARTER  submits written testimony in opposition to Maryland all-rider helmet repeal - Maryland Written Testimony

SMARTER Reaches Out to State Rider Education Coordinators

February 8, 2021 - SMARTER sends the Jan.-Feb 2021  Riding Smart to all rider education state coordinators.  This edition of our member newsletter contains a large section summarizing some of the major research topic areas.  Read our  Cover Letter.

SMARTER Opposes Nebraska LB 581 – Helmet Repeal

February 2, 2021 - SMARTER partners with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in opposition to repeal of Nebraska all-rider helmet requirement  LB 581

The Road Warrior – Rich Henrion, SMARTER Board Chairman

February 26, 2020 - Norway, Michigan resident Rich Henrion is the runner up in the 2019 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America North America Mileage contest with 50,136 miles.  He was national numero uno in 2018 with 45,680 miles and sixteenth in the nation and first in Michigan in 2017.  All total he has logged more than 147,649 miles in the past four summers.  

SMARTER presents at SMSA National Training Summit

September 22, 2019 - This is a SMARTER PowerPoint presentation at the 2019 State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA) conference held September 12-14 in Grand Rapids, MI. The information presented in the workshop is counter-intuitive and challenges our common assumptions; however, the ideas are rooted in the available research.  The belief that traditional rider training, motorist awareness communication campaigns and motorcycle license endorsements are effective measures to reduce crash risk is not supported by available research.  Insights collected from the research regarding what changes to these traditional countermeasures might lead to effectiveness were shared.

Summary of Michigan Motorcyclist Crash Data 2009 – 2018

July 1, 2019 - A PowerPoint presentation by SMARTER President Dan Petterson at the June 2019 meeting of the Michigan Motorcycle Safety Action Team based on Traffic Crash Reporting System, Criminal Justice Information Center, Motorcycle Helmet Traffic Crash Statistics. Data for date range of January 1 to December 31 for the years 2009-2018.  Data provided on May 15, 2019.

Uneasy Riders

April 3, 2019 - A digest of MLive's series on motorcycle crashes in Michigan and how the project was carried out.  Included is a “daily debate” between Dan Petterson and Vince Consiglio.  Consiglio is president of ABATE of Michigan, the main organization in the fight to lift Michigan's mandatory helmet law. Petterson is president of the pro-helmet group SMARTER, for Skilled Motorcyclist Association - Responsible, Trained and Educated Riders.  Original posting Dec. 2012, updated April 3, 2019.

SMARTER presents at the 2019 Lifesavers Conference

March 28, 2019 - This document is the handout prepared for participants who attend the Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities workshop titled Effective Solutions for Improving Motorcyclist  Safety.  Lifesavers is the premier U.S. highway safety conference with over 2,000 participants.  SMARTER was requested by the motorcyclist safety conference planners to present at this prestigious event.  

Henrion Wins Mileage Contest

February 27, 2019 - SMARTER Board of Directors Chairman Rich Henrion has been announced as the 2018 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America National North American Mileage contest winner.

Looked But Failed to See Motorcyclist Right of Way Violation Caused Crashes

January 20, 2019 - This is a PowerPoint presentation by SMARTER President Dan Petterson at the January 17, 2019 Michigan Motorcycle Safety Action Team, a subcommittee of the Michigan Governor’s Highway Traffic Safety Commission.  Based on Petterson’s review of the research, the presentation looks at the extent of the LBFTS ROWV problem, identifies main causes indicated by the research, compares car vs motorcycle and car vs car crashes of this kind and suggests possible solutions based on the research.  Five causes and five plus countermeasures are suggested.

Data shows increased fatality rate since helmet repeal

March 28, 2018 - An edited version of this article was published in the March 27, 2018 Ludington Daily News. The article summarizes the Michigan Traffic Crash Reporting System data which shows an increase in the Michigan motorcyclist fatality rate post helmet law repeal and the increased risk non-helmeted riders take when they choose to ride without a helmet.

Motorcyclist Safety is Top Concern for Locally-based Organization

March 18, 2018 - Interview with SMARTER’s CEO Dan Petterson    

Estimate of Reduction in Deaths, Injuries, and Societal Costs in 2015 Michigan Motorcycle Crashes with Helmet Use

March 9, 2018 - March 9, 2018 – A report completed by Lidia P. Kostyniuk, Ph.D, P.E., Research Scientist, Emerita with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute calculating the reduction in monetary costs and deaths that would have been prevented in Michigan in 2015 if all riders involved in crashes would have worn a helmet.

Motorcycle Helmet Law Repeal Costs Lives and Millions of Dollars

March 9, 2018 - March 9, 2018 – News article as published in the Ludington Daily News highlighting a  recent report titled Estimate of Reduction in Deaths, Injuries, and Societal Costs in 2015 Michigan Motorcycle Crashes with Helmet Use  which concludes “If helmets had been worn by all the crash-involved motorcyclists in 2015, monetary costs of motorcycle crashes would have been reduced by $28 million - $32 million, quality of life costs would have been reduced by $157 million - $169 million, and total societal costs would have been reduced by $185 - $201 million. Twenty-one deaths would have been prevented, and total societal costs of motorcycle crashes would have been lower by 10.5%-11.4%.”

The Tragic Consequences of Motorcycle Helmet Law Repeal: Five Michigan Specific Research Studies

July 28, 2017 - A summary of five Michigan specific research reports which substantiate the negative consequences of repealing the Michigan all-rider helmet law.  A version of this article was published as a guest in the Michigan Auto Law Blog.

Summary of Michigan Motorcyclist Crash Data

June 13, 2017 - Summary of Michigan Motorcyclist Crash Data with a focus on the five year periods prior to and after the repeal of Michigan’s all-rider helmet law.  A PowerPoint presentation prepared by SMARTER President Dan Petterson and presented at the June, 2017 meeting of the Michigan Lakeshore Traffic Safety committee.  Also includes a summary of five research studies examining the repeal of the Michigan law. 

The Price We Have Paid for a Small Freedom (to ride a motorcycle without a helmet).

May 3, 2017 - The report provides Michigan motorcyclist crash data for 2016 and also for each year back to 2012, when Michigan representatives and senators voted and Governor Snyder supported the repeal of Michigan’s all-rider motorcycle helmet law.  The data and the research studies support the readily available national and international research which shows helmets use works to reduce deaths and injuries in the event of a crash and when an all-rider helmet law is in effect almost every rider wears a helmet. A version of this article was published as a guest in the Michigan Auto Law Blog.

Statement of SMARTER President Dan Petterson.

January 22, 2014 - A statement by Dan Petterson, an invitee to the January 22 press event sponsored by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., on the release of the 2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, urging lawmakers to support essential lifesaving all-rider helmet laws.

Q&A: CDC, U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg, and the AMA.

December 12, 2013 - A SMARTER-prepared document to provide the motorcycling community with complete information regarding Walberg’s questions

SMARTER’s Letter to CDC Director Frieden.

December 4, 2013 - An advisory letter stating that responsible motorcyclists and the professionals involved in the fight to save lives and prevent or reduce the seriousness of injuries need all the help available.

One Year Post Repeal: Where Do We Go From Here?

April 10, 2013 - A news release from which excerpted comments were made by SMARTER at the April 10, 2013, news conference held at the Michigan Capitol by leading members of the Head First Coalition.

Motorcyclist Organizations Differ Over Recent Government Agency Announcements.

February 20, 2013 - A news release cautions motorcyclists to consider source and motive before using information to make potentially life-altering decisions about riding safety.

NTSB 2013 Most Wanted List: The truth regarding motorcyclist safety. 

February 5, 2013 - A news release explains why motorcyclist safety was not included in the 2013 top ten transportation challenges identified by the NTSB.

Notable News from Other Sources

Few Small SUV’s Excel in New IIHS Front Crash Prevention Test

April 25, 2024 - The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is updating its vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention test to address crashes that occur at higher speeds and those in which the struck vehicle is a motorcycle or large truck. Only one of the first 10 small SUVs evaluated earns a good rating.

December 6, 2023 - Illinois in the Middle of the Road Nationally on Traffic Safety This is a December 5, 2023 article in the Chicago Sun Times in response to the “middle of the road” rating the state received by Advocated for Highway and Auto Safety 2024 Roadmap to Safety.  Illinois lacks an all-rider motorcycle helmet requirement.  The reporter quotes SMARTER representative regarding helmet and helmet requirement effectiveness.      

It’s Past Time to Require ABS on All Motorcycles

November 13, 2023 - The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) have filed a second petition with federal regulators for a mandate for antilock braking systems (ABS) on all new motorcycles. The evidence in support of ABS has become even stronger since the first IIHS-HLDI petition. In the most recent IIHS study of motorcycle ABS - much broader than an initial 2013 analysis - IIHS Director of Statistical Services Eric Teoh found that the fatal crash rates for bikes with optional ABS are 22 percent lower than identical models without the technology.  

Banned! Texas Lane Splitting Is Now Officially Illegal.

September 10, 2023 - Article by Justin Hughes published online in Adventure Rider. Formerly a gray area, HB 4122 explicitly prohibits it.  

Simple steps could reduce motorcyclist deaths – if only we’d take them.

August 25, 2023 - Article by Eric Teoh, Director of Statistical Services, IIHS. August 24, 2023

Motorcyclists are hospitalized or dying on a daily basis: What is Michigan doing wrong?

August 16, 2022 - A news report from the Holland (Michigan) Sentinel. SMARTER CEO Dan Petterson quoted  and SMARTER developed crash and fatality data and charts used as a resource.

Reminders from the Michigan State Police to Help Prevent Motorcycle Deaths

August 3, 2022 - A report on Northern Michigan TV 9 & 10 where SMARTER was  cited as the source for the data.

Collision Between Pickup Truck with Trailer and Group of Motorcycles, Randolph, New Hampshire, June 21, 2019.

December 4, 2020 - This is a synopsis from the NTSB’s report and does not include the Board’s rationale for the conclusions, probable cause, and safety recommendations. The final report and pertinent safety recommendation letters will be distributed to recommendation recipients as soon as possible.

Online Cornering Course Gets Boost in Motorcycling World

March 23, 2020 - News release from Cornering Confidence announcing collaboration with BMW MOA.

NTSB Issues 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements

February 5, 2019 - The National Transportation Safety Board announced its 2019 – 2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, during an event held at the National Press Club, Monday. First issued in 1990, the NTSB Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements serves as the agency’s primary advocacy tool to help save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce property damage resulting from transportation accidents.    

Arizona Motorcyclists Must Wear a Helmet or Pay Fee Not to

January 20, 2019 - HB 2246, or the working title “motorcycle riders; helmets; fees” bill, proposes all motorcyclists and passengers operating an “all-terrain vehicle or motor driven cycle” must wear a helmet at all times while operating the vehicle.  However, those who do not wish to wear a helmet can be exempt from the proposed requirement if they pay a fee when registering their motorcycle, according to verbiage in HB 2246.    

NTSB Motorcycle Safety Report

October 2, 2018 - October 2, 2018. The National Transportation Safety Board on October 2, 2018, released a Safety Study, Select Risk Factors Associated with Causes of Motorcycle Crashes. The report analyzed select risk factors associated with the causes of motorcycle crashes and evaluated strategies for crash prevention. The NTSB makes recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Motorcycle Industry Council, the American Motorcyclist Association, and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

2018 – Lives and Costs Saved by Motorcycle Helmets in 2016

May 29, 2018 - This is a Traffic Safety Facts Research Note released in May 2018 based on crash data from 2016.  In 2016 the use of motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives – if all riders had worn helmets and additional 802 lives could have been saved.  Nearly $3.4 billion in economic costs and $21 billion in comprehensive costs were saved by the use of helmets but an additional $1.5 billion in economic costs and $9.2 billion in comprehensive costs could have been saved if all riders had worn helmets.

Motorcycle Helmet Use in 2017 – Overall Results

May 29, 2018 - This is a Traffic Safety Facts Research Note released in April 2018 that shows that the use of DOT compliant motorcycle helmets was not statistically different in 2017 from 2016 and remains at about 65%.  Helmet use in states requiring all riders to wear helmets has increased to 87%.

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State: 2017 Preliminary Data

May 6, 2018 - A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association.  The report projects that 4,990 people were killed on motorcycles in 2017. This number, based on preliminary data provided by State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs), represents a projected 5.6% decrease from 2016 – a difference of 296 lives. In spite of this reduction, motorcyclists remain significantly over-represented as a proportion of all traffic deaths, with motorcyclist fatalities occurring 28 times more often than passenger vehicle occupant fatalities per mile traveled. This is a stark reminder that much work remains to establish a lasting downward trend.

New Data Finds Motorcyclist Fatalities Down 5.6% in 2017

May 6, 2018 - A May 2, 2018 news release from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) announcing the 2017 Preliminary Data Report.  While fatalities are down, motorcyclists remain over-represented in traffic deaths.

Why drivers may fail to see motorcycles in plain sight

March 14, 2018 - January 5, 2018 - Link to an article in ScienceDaily describing a research report which examines how the phenomenon of inattentional blindness, or a person's failure to notice an unexpected object located in plain sight, might explain the prevalence of looked-but-failed-to-see (LBFTS) crashes, the most common type of collision involving motorcycles.  

Helmet use associated with reduced risk of cervical spine injury during motorcycle crashes

March 14, 2018 - March 6, 2018 – Link to an article describing research from the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics in Madison which found that, during an accident, helmet use lowers the likelihood of cervical spine injury (CSI), particularly fractures of the cervical vertebrae.  

What is the Motorcycle Advisory Council and how will it affect us?

December 23, 2017 - December 20, 2017 – Link to a RevZilla Common Thread article by Mark Gardiner.  An excellent review of the first meeting of the Motorcycle Advisory Council and general motorcyclist safety issues.

No easy ride: Motorcycle industry is in deep trouble and needs help fast, panel agrees

December 15, 2017 - December 14, 2017 - Link to a Los Angeles Times article.  A group of two dozen concerned motorcycle veterans has published a comprehensive research document that addresses the question, “Can this industry be saved?”

Give a Shift – Roundtable Discussion.

December 15, 2017 - December 5, 2017 - This is the full report of the Give a Shift (GAS) discussion, an anonymous & public discourse on the future of motorcycling (see the December 14, 2017 LA Times news article.  

Pro-helmet activists are notching wins against motorcyclists shouting ‘freedom’.

May 5, 2017 - Link to an article in STAT, a national publication focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery. For two decades, the riders — and their rallying cry of freedom — have often had the upper hand in these battles. Now, though, the public health advocates are gaining traction as more and more evidence emerges that mandating helmet use saves lives.

Does the Senate really need a Motorcycle Caucus?

April 12, 2017 - Link to an editorial by The Des Moines Register. A caucus is simply a group of senators or representatives who meet occasionally, usually to pursue common legislative objectives. Some are ideologically focused and tend to be partisan, but others are based on topics of personal interest to members. The Senate caucuses are more informal than those in the House, which receive funding and official recognition from the chamber. Even so, it’s fair to ask whether the U.S. Senate really needs a Motorcycle Caucus to address what Ernst describes as the issues of “safety, infrastructure and energy efficiency.”

Senators Announce Formation of Motorcycle Caucus.

April 4, 2017 - Link to a news release announcement from U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) regarding he formation of the first-ever Motorcycle Caucus in the United States Senate.

Community Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations.

August 1, 2013 - The finding and rationale statement of an independent, nonfederal, unpaid panel of public health and prevention experts appointed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose evidence-based finding is that “universal helmet laws increase helmet use; decrease motorcycle-related fatal and non-fatal injuries; and are substantially more effective than no law or than partial motorcycle helmet laws….”