AMA Press Releases Rights

American Motorcyclist Association Urges DOT to Act on Automated Driver System Regulations Following Tragic Collision

Calls on DOT Secretary Buttigieg to stand with motorcyclists to prevent further loss of life

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 26, 2024) — In the wake of the most recent tragedy involving a fatal collision between a Tesla vehicle in autopilot mode and a motorcyclist in Washington state, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) once again urges the Department of Transportation (DOT) to strengthen Automated Driving System (ADS) regulations. The incident, which resulted in the death of the rider, underscores the urgent need for specific regulations that require that both recognition and reaction to motorcycles be fully integrated into crash avoidance and autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies to ensure safety for motorcyclists and drivers.

“This tragic loss of life is another reminder that the AMA’s call to include motorcycle recognition and reaction in Federal Automated Vehicle Policy has gone unanswered,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “Our thoughts go out to the family and loved ones of this motorcyclist, and sadly, we are left with the question for the DOT, NHTSA, automakers, and technology companies: how many people must die before you take action? This recent crash was not the first and we are deeply concerned that it won’t be the last unless AV systems are required to be designed and tested with the unique characteristics of motorcyclists in mind.”

“Since the 1990s,” Dingman continued, “The AMA has engaged with federal agencies, automakers and software developers on the dangers surrounding developing and implementing self-driving technology without adequate consideration of its impact on motorcyclists. In a column I penned in American Motorcyclist magazine back in 2016 titled Highly Automated Horror, I noted that failing to consider motorcyclists could prove catastrophic to motorcycling, and, unfortunately, we’re seeing that become a reality today.”

Currently, the government has regulations in place that tell consumers what type of fuel and which engine types they should buy. Yet when it comes to an actual problem that’s costing lives, the ongoing epidemic remains ignored, despite the AMA urging action.

In February of 2022, the AMA — along with the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) — sat down to share industry priorities with United States DOT Secretary Buttigieg and department staff. One of the key discussion points during that meeting was the need to ensure that these new automated vehicle and crash avoidance technologies be required to recognize and react appropriately to motorcycles.

“Secretary Buttigieg was very receptive to our concerns regarding autonomous vehicles and the potential dangers they pose to motorcyclists,” Dingman said in the 2022 press release following the meeting. Obviously, the AMA’s and the industry’s concerns fell on deaf ears.

Previously, the AMA had discussed concerns about autonomous vehicles with former DOT Secretary Elaine Chao, as well. But while the AMA has had an audience with DOT officials — and despite NHTSA’s investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system and California putting the brakes on AV technology at the state level — no concrete action has been taken at the federal level.

“It’s astounding that, despite laying out clear and specific safety recommendations and the many concerns raised by various stakeholders calling for the regulation of this technology, we are continuing to fight the same battle,” said AMA Government Relations Director Nick Haris. “We urge developers and regulators to prioritize the inclusion of motorcyclists in the design, testing and implementation of AV systems to prevent future tragedies.”

In fact, the most recent testing of these systems by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), released just yesterday, indicates only one of the first 10 small SUVs evaluated using their new testing criteria earned a good rating. Four of the tested vehicles either completely failed to provide sufficient warning or gave it too late to avoid a collision.

The AMA reaffirms its commitment to advocating for the safety of motorcyclists on the road and calls upon federal agencies, automakers, technology companies and software developers to ensure that AV technology is thoroughly vetted and capable of protecting all road users, including motorcyclists.

Currently, the AMA has over 215,000 members, and according to a recent survey, distracted and inattentive driving as well as automated vehicles are their two top issues of concern. The AMA will work with its members at the grassroots level to sound the alarm and reach out to local, state and federal lawmakers. The AMA also asks the entire industry to join their call for action from DOT Secretary Buttigieg and the Department of Transportation.

“Many autonomous vehicles on the road today have not been proven to detect all other road users in all situations before they have been allowed to be used on the road,” Dingman added.  “Motorcyclists should not be used as guinea pigs for autonomous vehicle manufacturers.  The continued allowance of untested autonomous vehicles on our nation’s roadways is unacceptable. The time for action is now!”

To learn more about the AMA’s government relations efforts or to sign up for action alerts, visit:

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