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U.S. SENATE APPROVES BILL TO END HEALTH INSURANCE DISCRIMINATION Legislation aimed at closing a discriminatory loophole in medical insurance has passed the U.S. Senate and will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

S.423, entitled Health Care Parity for Legal Transportation, was authored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Russ Feingold (D-WI). The measure would prohibit insurers from denying health care benefits to insured’s who are injured while participating in so-called "risky activities" such as riding motorcycles, ATVs, horseback riding, snowmobiling, skiing or other legal recreational or transportation activities.

"Americans who enjoy recreational or transportation activities such as riding motorcycles should have the right to the same health insurance protection whether they are injured on their bike or in their home," said co-author Sen. Collins.

Congress had passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) back in 1996, which prohibits companies from denying access to employer-sponsored health insurance for motorcyclists and others, but federal regulators created a loophole that allows insurers to deny benefits to those injured as a result of their participation in certain activities. In other words, your employer is required to provide you with health care insurance, but your health insurance company is not required to provide medical benefits!

On November 21, 2004, the United States Senate acted to close this loophole before adjourning from session. S.423 will now be considered before the House, where a companion bill, HR 1749 was introduced by Representatives Scott McCinnis (R-CO) and Ted Strickland (D-OH).

The National Coalition of Motorcyclists encourages all concerned riders and Motorcyclists’ Rights Organizations to contact their Congressional representatives and urge them to support S.423 to end these discriminatory health care practices.


PENNSYLVANIA STIFFENS PENALTIES FOR CARELESS DRIVING On December 8, 2004, Governor Ed Rendell signed HB 873 into law, which establishes increased penalties for those convicted of careless driving that results in serious injury or death.

Under heavy lobbying by ABATE of Pennsylvania, the legislation passed near-unanimously through both chambers of the legislature.

House Bill 873 will establish an increased fine of $500 and a 6 month license suspension for persons convicted of careless driving when the offender unintentionally causes the death of another person. Careless driving offenses that result in serious bodily injury to another person would carry a $250 fine and a three month license suspension.

"If a tragedy occurs because of a driver's careless action, even though those actions were unintentional, then there should be serious consequences," said Representative Rick Geist, who chairs the House Transportation Committee. "We have to reinforce the notion that drivers must be alert and responsible behind the wheel. Tragic things can happen in an instant if you aren't."

Previously, a conviction of careless driving resulted only in a fine of $25 plus cost and fees, as well as three points on the person's driving record. No further penalties existed in the event of a death or serious injury occurring as a result of this violation.

"All things considered we fared well in the 2003-2004 legislative session," points out ABATE Legislative Coordinator John Mullendore, who also serves on the NCOM Board of Directors, "including the passage of the helmet modification bill and the passage of the Veterans motorcycle license plates. We also realized the discount given to motorcycles that used the E-Z pass on the turnpike."


MINI-MOTORCYCLES "DANGEROUS" GIFTS Lots of kids are asking Santa for a new bike this Holiday season, but before you park a pocket bike under your Christmas tree you should know that they're not a recommended toy for your tot.

Just in time for the holidays, WATCH has released its annual "Most Dangerous Toys" list for 2004. World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc., or WATCH, has published the worst-toys list since 1968 to educate the public about the dangers of certain toys, and Pocket Rockets top this year's roll of most dangerous toys.

In fact, Consumer Reports magazine calls the mini-motorcycles the most dangerous holiday gift you can buy this year.

They may look cool, and they're a hot seller this Christmas season, but Consumer Reports engineers found the faster they go the less stable the bikes feel.

"At 20 miles-per-hour, it's hard to hold a straight course. And once you put on the brakes, it takes 20 feet to come to a stop," reports the top consumer magazine, "Making tight turns is another problem, as they don't have a very large turning radius…as a result, you have to pick the bike up and turn it around."

You're not supposed to ride mini-motorcycles on the road, adds the report, but people do. And compared to other vehicles, these bikes sit very low to the ground. That makes them tough to spot from a car or truck.

Bottom line: Consumer Reports, says they're too dangerous to give as holiday gifts.

Their advice: If your teen wants a mini motorcycle for the holidays, try talking about electric scooters instead. They're fast and fun, too, but lower to the ground and safer.


FLYING DUTCHMAN MOTORCYCLE We've all heard of flying cars in our future, but now the Dutch firm Spark Design has announced even stranger news – a flying motorcycle, which may be available sooner than you'd think.

Spark Design claims the vehicle — which looks like a cross between a helicopter and a full-fairing bike — will be able to take off and land vertically and reach 125mph both on land and in the air.

The rotor and propeller are folded until the machine needs to fly. Once airborne, the rear-mounted propeller pushes the craft along and the unpowered main rotor spins to give the craft lift. It is designed to fly under the 4,000ft threshold used by commercial aircraft.

The company, that has worked on products as disparate as the Carver (a three-wheeled enclosed motorbike that leans over in corners), parts for coffee pots, and handicap bathroom door handles, says the flying motorcycle could be ready for test flights in less than a year. The machine will be made in Canada mainly for the U.S. market.


"SMART" HELMET GIVES MOTORCYCLISTS A HEADS UP A "smart" helmet has been invented that tells the wearer how fast they are traveling, what gear the motorcycle is in and whether turn signal indicators are on. The new device, inspired by the Heads-Up Display technology used by fighter pilots, flashes information onto a small digital screen inside the helmet.

Piers Tucker, a 24-year-old industrial designer from Leeds, England, who invented the helmet in an effort to promote road safety, claims that the screen - which is within the rider's peripheral vision - will allow motorcyclists to monitor their speed without taking their eyes off the road.

"I designed this helmet to save lives," he said. "When you are riding a motorcycle at a fast speed, it is difficult to concentrate on the displays on the dashboard and the roads at the same time.”

The helmet calculates the rider's precise speed by utilizing satellite global positioning data (GPS), while information about the indicators and gears is sent to the helmet by radio transmitters.

Tucker, who is not a motorcyclist himself, claims that if the helmet proves popular with riders, dashboard dials could disappear from motorcycles altogether. "It takes about 0.25 seconds to look down, focus on a speedometer and refocus on the road again. This doesn't sound like much but it can make the difference between life and death."

Ian Mutch, of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG-UK), which campaigns on safety issues and is a member group of the International Coalition of Motorcyclists (ICOM), said that it would be cheaper and safer if motorcyclists simply rode at slower speeds. "Bikers who want avoid accidents should take greater care, but an illuminated screen could be a distraction in itself," he said.nience of traveling long distances when not able to use freeways.



WORLD'S FASTEST INDIAN Oscar winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins will star in "The World's Fastest Indian," the true-life story of Burt Munro, a New Zealander who spent several decades constructing a 1920 Indian Motorcycle, then traveled to Utah and set a new land-speed record back in the 70's. Roger Donaldson, director of "The Recruit" is using his own writing and is directing the project.


WEIRD NEWS – DUCATI "MONSTER" DOOMED? The "Monster Garage" cable television series, Monster.com, Disney's "Monsters, Inc." the "Monsters of the Midway" Chicago Bears' nickname, and a host of other enterprises that use the word "monster" have found themselves named in lawsuits and trademark infringement claims filed by Monster Cable Products, Inc.

Even the Monster Seats above Fenway Park's left field wall have been targeted in what Monster Cable officials say is an aggressive legal strategy to protect the firm's good name. "We have an obligation to protect our trademark; otherwise we'd lose it," said Monster Cable founder Noel Lee, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The cable mogul is preparing for a trial against the Discovery Channel over their popular "Monster Garage" series starring custom bike builder Jesse James, because the show uses images of "provocative women" and an iron cross logo that could tarnish Monster Cable's image.


QUOTABLE QUOTE: "The one who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the one who is doing it."
Ancient Chinese Proverb
 

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The Senate Bill on health insurance is a welcome conclusion to a lot of work from some very active people in various Morotrcycle and other PAC's, just proves the power of persistence.

On pocket rockets. Well we had an article in the local paper about a guy who thought it was the perfect size to teach his 3 year to ride....in the street...with pictures...with cars passing. We spend all this time debating American versus Metric, Sport versus Cruisers and Moto when it's really wienies like that that give biking a bad name not the people who have learned how to thrive on 2. Can't wait until some fool is pulled over DUI on one and tries to argue it's outside the bounds of a "defined" vehicle and some DOT starts licensing them. Someone's making some money....the true price is still to be seen.
 

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Just a note on the pocket rockets...they are made with smaller two stoke engines that are made out of magnesium...like chainsaws and weed eaters and such...the problem is when you run gardening equipment you don't run it full throttle for long periods, you rev it up and down...but when you run them full throttle for extended periods they get too hot and the magnesium can actualy catch fire...this is a huge problem because magnesium cannot be put out with water, water actually makes the fire burn more and actually flares up and gets much hotter...big problem for some of us...not trying to preach but it is a real problem
 
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