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Today, the federal government will unveil a broad program intended to cut down motorcycle accident and death rates that have more than doubled over the past ten years as aging baby boomers are hitting the open roads on bikes.

The Department of Transportation initiative is set up to include national training standards for beginning riders while also training police officers who enforce the traffic laws.

“Our nation’s greatest traffic highway safety challenge is motorcycle fatalities,” says Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, noting that biking deaths are rising while other vehicle fatalities are declining.

Motorcycles represent 2.5% of all registered vehicles but 11.3% of traffic deaths.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises that helmet use is critical for the safety of motorcycle riders. 45% of motorcyclists killed in crashes were not wearing a helmet.

In many states helmet laws have been modified or repealed, however, the DOT’s new effort does not include new helmet laws.

The initiative focuses on:

* Training. DOT will develop national standards for entry-level motorcycle riders to achieve what Peters calls “a baseline of competency.”

* Enforcement. DOT will create a training program to teach police officers about specific efforts to reduce crashes.

* Education. Public service announcements will feature Peters on the importance of helmets and other protective gear. A “Share the Road” campaign will remind drivers to be alert for motorcyclists.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.

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