Biker Rights and Motorcyclist Safety Advocacy in a Political Milieu Characterized By Government Dishonesty and Hypocrisy.
Richard Quigley, the American Biker Folk Hero, Vol. 1, Quig Obtains Order Voiding His Helmet Law Tickets on Constitutional Grounds.
Richard Quigley, the American Biker Folk Hero, Vol. 2, Quig, His Life, His Causes, Expanding Helmet Law Activism For Injunction Against California CHP, and Into Oregon and Nevada. Quig is an Inspriation and Guiding Light for Biker Rights and Human Rights Activism.
Motorcyclists Against Dumb Drivers Position Urging Law Banning Cell Phone Use, “Through the Prism of Libertarianism.”
By, Dave Christy
[The following is the full text of personal correspondence by Dave Christy providing his insight from the Libertarian's perspective with regard to Mr. Henke’s Position Paper and Scientific Review Article Urging Comprehensive Cell Phone Bans As Essential for Motorcyclist Safety. The correspondence was reprinted here with the author's permission.]
Dear  Ray,
I have read the entire article and understand it very well; you have made an
exceptional case, with empirical data to back it up, for totally banning the
use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle, and I do not disagree
with anything contained therein.
With that said, I would like to provide some commentary as food for thought,
and some additional reality as to what all roads users are up against, as
well as how things are from an enforcement & judicial standpoint. I'll open
by stating that my personal perspective is that of a Libertarian. The basic
tenets of Libertarianism are that the individual is responsible --
responsible for conducting himself/herself in matters and actions of living
Life and conduct of productive citizenship in the Pursuit of Happiness as
long as it brings no harm to another - a cognitive effort that I personally
attempt to live by everyday. So that is me, and at the same time I realize
that a large number of humans I co-habitate with on this western hemisphere
don't freely give much weight and consideration to responsibility and their
obligations to others. Now, should I come into another person's life and
cause harm or create detriment and damage, I presume to bear the
consequences of my actions. Contrast that with a chunk of populace that
considers the "self" first and foremost as they go about their activities,
absent the self-evaluation. People do what they do in the name of their
freedom, and when their actions translate into adversity and carnage -
whether upon themselves, someone else, or a combination of the two - they
want the path of least responsibility and resistance.
I used to own a cell phone. I had it for maybe six months and I lost it
earlier this year; I haven't replaced it and I don't miss it. I didn't use
it much anyway and had no addiction to it, nor did I (as even now) consider
it essential. It became apparent to me early on, as I made a couple of calls
while driving, that I wasn't good at driving and phone multi-tasking, so I'd
pull off the road if I needed to make or receive a call. In the course of my
employment I am required to be on 24 hour-call every third week to attend to
fleet vehicle matters, which puts me in the company truck with the company
cell phone -- I still won't phone talk and drive. As a person who has usedthe roads in every capacity (trucks, bicycle, cars, motorcyclist, etc.) in
my time, I've seen and become actutely aware of the erraticism and
negligence leading to much carnage and I don't care to be a contributor to
the cell phone pervasiveness polluting the roadways.
I detest like Hell to see a law that bans the use of cellphones because it
flies in the face of my beliefs; I am responsible and know there's a time
and place for the handheld. Another law is another freedom lost. However, I
understand that in our society those of us who monitor ourselves pay a price
for those who don't - laws meant to be deterrents put a smothering blanket
on us all for what a minority does - and in this case that minority has
caused critical mass (if we hold to the definition of critical mass as 5% or
more of the population engaged in a certain activity.)
Now I realize that we are talking about cell phone use in vehicles
specifically here, however, and in addition the auto manufacturers have
provided a barrage of vehicle cockpit gadgetry and distractions under the
guise of "amenities" (and I'm qualifying my remarks as a 35-year auto
technician, master & advanced certified, and a member of the Society of
Automotive Engineers as part of my resume') and they have also contributed
to this problem. Maybe they first initiated it if we look at the distraction
problem in terms of historically conditioning the buying public and then
enabling them to be distracted. It would then follow that cell phone use in
the vehicle is an extension. Follow me on this if you will: there isn't much
margin on a new vehicle sale that's a "base" model, so they get loaded up
with factory extras that are profitable - and Americans have bought it up,
even if they don't know how to use everything that's inside, and even if the
controls are placed on the steering column. My experience is that few
vehicle owners read their owners' manuals to know what they've got and how
to use it, so they opt for "fiddling" with their stuff while they're
"driving." Let your imagination run wild (the manufacturers have) as to what
vehicles can be (and are) equipped and optioned with. I remember a couple of
years ago when a newer model of the Mercury Villager was introduced and you
could have down-sized versions of a clothes washer and dryer in the back -
and I was incredulous, I thought "You have got to be friggin' kiddin' me !"
But they weren't. These days the motor vehicle is used for every purpose you
can think of in addition to its' supposed primary purpose of transport.
Let's presume the manufacturers know what they're doing (they do), and the
attendant distractions and complacency that vehicle 'comforts' provide.
Vehicle engineering and building is so scientific as to be a distinct art
form in and of itself. Safer crashing rules the day -- you can have all the
toys you want - the "safety" equipment and crumple zones will save you, you
can have computers control the vehicle in all forms, even "stabilize" it and
provide traction control. The O.E's market their crash ratings as part ofthe sale. You can stuff more logic circuits into the vehicle while at the
same time ill-logically removing the driver from his/her primary
responsibility and obligation of piloting the machine - thereby continually
dumbing down the driver while building ever "smarter" vehicles. Small wonder
why drivers are inattentive - it's become less requisite - and if they get
in an "accident", it's all about saving their own ass. That's what NHTSA
concentrates on - Saving Lives and crash survivability - while competency,
skill evaluation, awareness, and education take a back seat. Road death
statistics may be holding steady for the cages, but I would suggest that the
number of crashes/accidents involving property damage and/or injury is
climbing astronomically in comparison to even five years ago.
The most common offenses in our society are those of a traffic nature which
include the accidents that maim and kill. So let's say that we address
driver accountability by implementing stringent cell phone use bans/laws.
Let's say we have laws with meaningful sanctions. The enforcement and
application issues come into play. In my time as a Bikers' rights activist,
I have come to know first-hand how the LEO's, prosecutors, defense
attorneys, and courts operate. I've been involved with victims and their
case histories, enough to understand that laws in and of themselves provide
no protection whatsoever. Truthfully, laws on the books serve as a deterrent
only, and the threat of meaningful punishment upon an individual for
indulging in an illegal action is that deterrent. When that punishment is
not guaranteed nor meaningful, the rampant acts of negligence continue.
There are not enough examples placed before the public eye to the extent of
maximum penalty imposed/hammering the offender for the driving public to
take notice and change behavior. Only the most egregious (aggravated, as
they call it) or high-profile cases receive attention. Legislators make laws
with (generally) good intent to address a problem (otherwise known as
"legislative intent"), and attorneys on both sides look to see how that law
can be manipulated, twisted, turned, convoluted, circumvented, argued, and
loop-holed not so much to serve the public and victims' interest (which are
one and the same), but rather to serve the "system" of expedient disposition
of cases via plea bargains that they have created and serve first and
foremost. When we understand that the judicial system is attorney-centered
and defers to what I term as "prosecutorial prerogative" (as in the DA or
his/her assistants will proceed as they please) and will bargain with the
defense (whom they know many times), afterwards maybe go out to lunch or
golf together, then we will understand why victims complain so bitterly
about justice not being served. It is the dysfunctional norm. The public
places their trust and faith in the LE's, prosecutors, and courts that the
right things will be done - and it isn't happening. Prosecution has been
afforded far too much latitude (read: discretion) and too many legislators
in the various states are complicit by ignorance and/or capitulation as to
the continuation of this faulty system. The legislators have been advisedthat "it's best if we (prosecutors) maintain discretion..." In other words,
"trust us." I also believe there are generally good laws on the books with
substantial available penalties (though a number of them could use tweaking
and improvement) if convictions were obtained on the right and properly
applied original charge. I can relate for a fact that in Colorado, the
conviction rate for drivers charged with Careless Driving 1 (serious bodily
injury or death) since year 2000 ranges from 19-25% and is dropping further
- a dismal and pathetic statistic that I expect is paralled in most other
states as well.
Another angle: I can already visualize/conceptualize the arguments against
stopping and ticketing a driver for talking on the cell phone, and if a
cell-phoner causes accident with injury (or death), how does LE and/or
prosecution determine if that person was on a phone? Would they be
empowered to subpoena cell phone records to correlate the time of accident
with time of phone use? Would the protections against self-incrimination
come into play. What about privacy issues? Prosecutors like to claim that
the sheer volume of cases overwhelm a system that can't handle it, they are
short of resources, i.e. - court rooms, prosecutors, judges, etc., -
therefore the plea bargain system has to remain in effect to achieve some
type of conviction and keep cases from clogging the courts. My response and
question to that is "Which of you, and your District Attorneys associations
and councils, has formally asked the state legislature for appropriations to
expand the infrastructure so that you will serve the public interest and do
the job you're elected/hired to do?" I'm personally not aware of any such
request, though I keep my eyes open for any, or even one, for that matter.
As far as how it would be paid for - of course, the monies would be recouped
through fines and surcharges. In the meantime however, I hear about state
legislatures addressing funding for education, indigent care, service
programs, etc, etc.
I concur that penalties have to be stringent and allow no latitude; if
there's going to be law, it has to be unassailable and applied with no
possibility of bargaining out. I'm not holding my breath that's going to
happen anytime soon.
In lieu of law: as far as civil actions are concerned, I say drop the hammer
unmercifully and litigate the Hell out 'em 'til they "get it"...
Motorcyclists Against Dumb Drivers Scientific Review Article: Driving Under the Influence of a Cell Phone is As Dangerous As DUI Level Drunk Driving. The Dangers Posed By the Cell Phone Impaired Are Even Greater For Motorcyclists. Motorcyclists-Against-Dumb-Drivers Urges That All Cell Phone Use While Driving be Outlawed.
Open Letter to the American Motorcyclists Association, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the Mortorcycle Riders Foundation to Take Stands For Comprehensive Cell Phone Bans.
Motorcyclists Against Dumb Drivers Calls on All Bikers to Urge Their Senators And Governors to Enact Comprehensive Cell Phone Bans, Prominent Bikers Rights Advocates Join In Urging Cell Legislation in Florida..
Motorcyclists Against Dumb Drivers Position to Chairman of Florida Senate Transportation Committee Urging the Adoption of Comprehensive Cell Phone Legislation.
Freedom Fighters Please Note: The Epidemic Growth in Driving Under the Influence of Cell Phones, Establsihed Below, And The Cell Phone Impaired Driver's 4 Times Greater Likelihood of Causing an Accident, Provides Evidence of a Potent Independent Variable That NHTSA Has Not Controlled For In Its Motorcyclist Fatality Studies, Including Its "Before" and "After" Helmet Law Repeal Studies.
Motorcyclists Against Dumb Drivers Takes A Motorcyclist Safety Position In Favor of the Repeal of Motorcycle Helmet Laws.
Motorcyclists-Against-Dumb-Drovers Position Paper Criticizing the NTSB 9/12-13/06 "Motorcycle Safety Forum Agenda," Objecting to It, Moving NTSB to Change the Agenda; and Invitation to All Bikers to Join in Urging Counter-Agenda and Counter-Agenda Debate.
Motorcyclists-Against-Dumb-Drivers "Motorcyclist Safety Counter-Agenda" to the Agenda Adopted As NTSB's September 12-13, 2006 Forum Agenda. This "Counter-Agenda" is What the NTSB Agenda Should Have Been. This is the Motorcycle Safety Agenda Which We Must Adopt For the Future if We Are to Reduce the Riding Dangers We Face As BIkers.
Richard Quigley, The Living American Biker Folk Hero Who Obtained The Court Order That The California Helmet Law is Unconstitutional As Enforced. Please Help Him Achieve His Goal to Help Us Acheive Ours.