Another Federal Government Agency Gets it Wrong, Again.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report on the motorcycle safety grants known as the Section 2010 motorcycle safety grant program. The program has been wildly successful at infusing much needed financial resources directly into the motorcycle safety community. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) was instrumental in getting the grant program set up and running. Currently the money, over $45 million over the past 6 years, can only be used for educational purposes. Those can be anything from paying instructors, buying new training bikes and equipment, to public education efforts such as “look twice” campaigns.
What the GAO is suggesting is that congress change the language so that the monies can be used for other purposes, such as helmet use campaigns. The MRF does not agree with this. The original intent of congress with the grant program was to reduce fatalities through crash avoidance techniques, not through safer crashing, as the GAO believes we should.
The GAO estimates are just that, a guess. The fact is that the GAO did not really do any new studies or research. They simply recycled the same tired talking points that are used by any number of government or quasi government groups.
This isn’t the first time motorcyclists have been painted in a bad light, calling us a social burden on America’s health care system. The MRF disagrees with that.
Critics and the uninformed believe that motorcyclists, helmeted or not, account for a super majority of health care costs, from trauma room to long-term care. The problem is that’s just not true. There are not a lot of studies on social burden, but more than enough to soundly and logically deflate the social burden myth around motorcyclists.
The Journal of American Medicine, one of the most respected of all medical publications, published the findings of a 1988 study on the subject of the public costs of motorcycle related injury at a specific Seattle, WA hospital. The results clearly showed that of all costs to sort out a motorcycle injured patient, 63.4% of the bill was paid out with taxpayer dollars. That’s an astoundingly high cost, no question, but what the study goes on to say is that the public cost of any injury at that same Seattle treatment center was 67%, 3.6% higher. Statistical dead heat.
There is also a little more to that story because the public cost of health care is about 45% currently, and was significantly less than that in the mid-eighties when the study was conducted. The facility used for the study was Harborview, a division of the University of Washington, and one of the largest and state-of-the art facilities in the Seattle region. Because of that the facility sees most of the worst-case scenarios routinely.
A similar study done by the University of North Carolina also found that there was no statistical difference in public cost to treat motorcycle related injury over any other type of injury. It’s also important to keep things in perspective. Last year the public share of motorcycle related injuries were 0.001% of the entire public health care cost.
The MRF will keep you updated on this issue.