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Safety training requested as well.

Federal officials are urging motorcycle manufacturers to provide free or discounted helmets certified by the Department of Transportation with the purchase of every new motorcycle.

U. S. Secretary of Transportation, Mary E. Peters, on Friday called on manufacturers to make safety equipment an integral part of every motorcycle sold to a consumer.

“Helmets and proper training are just as important as brakes or headlights when it comes to the well-being of motorcyclists,” Peters said in a statement posted on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Web site.

“We shouldn’t be letting any customer take a bike out of the store without a helmet as part of the package,” she said. “Safety shouldn’t have to be an option when purchasing a motorcycle.”

According to Department of Transportation statistics, only 58 percent of riders wear helmets, which is down 13 percent from just four years ago. Peters said she believes that manufacturers can help change that statistic by putting helmets in riders’ hands and giving them training on how to ride safely. She estimates that 700 motorcyclists would survive crashes every year if they wore helmets.

Motorcycles account for only 2 percent of the vehicles on our roads, but they are involved in more than 10 percent of all crashes. Additionally, officials say, motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled in the last 10 years and now account for over 4,500 highway deaths and 78,000 injuries nationwide each year. The crash rate among motorcyclists in the 50 plus age group has increased by over 400 percent, she said.

Peters noted that her department is trying to attack the problem by awarding safety grants to states to support motorcycle safety programs; establishing a Motorcycle Advisory Council to focus on making roads safer for motorcyclists; and commissioning a Motorcycle Crash Causation Study to identify why such crashes occur and attempt to reduce fatality and injury rates.

This is a good idea. If Harely-Davidson really got into encouraging helmet use, make it cool to wear a helmet, helmet use would go up dramatically. Harely is great at merchandising, think of the merchandising possibilities. What about helmet designs that coordinate with the bike? How about “His and her’s” helmet sets that match the bike.

All you motorcycle manufacturers, get into this. Make it cool to wear custom helmets. Make it cool to buy a new bike that comes with a logo helmet. After all, it is the right thing to do, make it “cool”.

A lot of my 45 plus buddies have Harleys. Everyone one of them are sick of hearing me talk about bike safety and wearing a high quality safety helmet.

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