Motorcycle Safety - Government Agencies And Accusations

The drama-free world bikers normally ride through is about to go down a road of conspiracy theories and accusations, and maybe it’s a needed detour.

Renewed attention has been raised about a determination by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2010 not to require mandatory antilock brake systems (ABS) on motorcycles. Articles by Fergus Nolan on circumstances surrounding the 2010 NHTSA decision and the involvement of not only lobbyists but also those connected to Harley-Davidson have been highlighted and further reported by the Huffington Post.

At the heart of the Huffington Post article as well as concerns by Nolan are the following viewpoints;

NHTSA was preparing to issue a nationwide mandate on motorcycle ABS in 2010, when it unexpectedly released a report concluding the technology provided no safety benefits. The report's findings were at odds with dozens of scientific studies dating back decades, many of which were commissioned by NHTSA itself. That body of data proved that motorcycle ABS works as intended and would save the lives of 1,500 motorcyclists a year if made mandatory in the United States, roughly the same number who would be protected by a nationwide helmet law.

Nolan has argued that lobbyists employed by Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson and other motorcycle manufacturers pressured NHTSA to issue the 2010 report and cancel its ABS mandate the following year, allowing the industry to continue selling the technology as an expensive option. The company had access at the time to several lobbyists who had once worked at NHTSA's highest levels.

With Nolan being at the center of the theories promoted by the Huffington Post on why the NHTSA decided what they did, a quick look at what can found online about the author. Fergus Nolan is the webmaster of where he gives his biography as being a former safety officer of a riding club in West Tennessee. The website was started because he was ‘fed up with the rising death toll among bikers, and with the slowness of the DOT to get the new cycle crash study going’.

The website is full of undated articles on motorcycle safety as well as links to a blog which features similar reports to The most recent post on the blog, called ‘ET's Bike Safer Blog’ is dated April 25th, 2010.

It should be noted, various agencies are currently in the process of conducted what should be the most thorough motorcycle safety study in recent history and this may date the items on the  website.

How a leading manufacturer of Motorcycle ABS systems, Bosch portrays the advantages of its products

Aside from the ongoing reason that ABS systems should be something considered as standard on motorcycles, the matter about the NHTSA was featured by the Huffington Post because a new name has been put forward to head the department, Elaine Chao. The Huffington Post is equally as concerned about the politics around the appointment as they are the 2010 NHTSA decision, all which can be read here.

With this new attention, Fergus Nolan has decided to create the Motorcycle Action Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making roads safer for American motorcyclists and the drivers around them. The organization will raise awareness of federal and state transportation regulations that have been weakened by the U.S. motorcycle industry and its allies, costing thousands of lives every year.

‘Initially, the Motorcycle Action Network will focus on strengthening regulations set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in connection with motorcycle antilock brake systems (ABS),’ explains the press release.

There are several groups in the United States who act as advocates for motorcycle safety, but the saying of more is better would certainly apply in this case. In fact, Nolan is looking to those groups to help with what he considers the biggest challenges to bikers.

"I call upon the American Motorcyclist Association, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, and all state-level motorcyclists' rights organizations to abandon their allegiance to the motorcycle industry and join me in demanding that NHTSA reconsider mandatory ABS," said Nolan. "I also call upon Chairman John Thune and the other members of the Senate Commerce Committee to thoroughly question Elaine Chao on her plan for 'draining the swamp' when they hold her confirmation hearing. It's time to clean up the Department of Transportation and NHTSA. The lives of thousands of American motorcyclists hang in the balance."

Share this article

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.

About us

Clutch and Chrome covers every aspect of the motorcycle lifestyle. Daily news, in-depth articles, reviews and anything that would interest a rider.


We not only produce our own motorcycle related videos but scour the internet to bring our readers the latest, greatest two-wheeled hits online.

Last posts


Want to really stay in touch? Here's our newsletter!