A decade ago, I was pulled over by MN State Patrol on Hwy 100 northbound at Glenwood Ave. for 20mph over the limit at 7am. The Trooper, joined by a trainee, seemed insistent that I was a member of a sportbike-based group that had been shunting the law.
“You’re a part of the No Hope Boyz, aren’t you?!” he half-proclaimed, evidently hoping I’d confess.
“Negative, Sir,” I countered, pulling out my business card along with my driver’s license. Then, in my best HST: “I’m a member of the Sporting Press – one of the Good Guys, like you.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), claiming that it identified the need to provide the law enforcement community with guidance regarding the safe conduct of motorcycle traffic stops, has produced a booklet appropriately titled “Effective Strategies for Motorcycle Stops”.
The opening line in the booklet’s Introduction: “Motorcycles are becoming a greater concern for U.S. law enforcement agencies.”
Further: “The number of motorcycles on U.S. roads has increased, as has the size, horsepower, and speed of these motorcycles. As the number of motorcycles increases, there is a perception among many in the law enforcement community that motorcycle riders may be less likely to stop upon request. Similarly, there is a perception that motorcycles are also more likely to become engaged in high-speed pursuits than passenger vehicles.”
In fact, the NHTSA even highlights that “some in the law enforcement community hypothesize that many motorcyclists are inherently risk takers, and actively seek these interactions with law enforcement.”
That’s painting with a pretty wide brush, isn’t it?
NHTSA says its document describes promising practices for safely and effectively conducting traffic stops of motorcyclists, effective officer safety strategies and techniques, as well as strategies and techniques for reducing high-speed pursuits involving motorcycles.
Variables to consider when planning safe and effective stops include the nature of the violation observed; geographic features of the location, presence of NHTSA impaired riding cues, and the availability of backup.
In a Chapter titled Planning the Stop and Stopping the Vehicle, NHTSA suggests law enforcement: 1) Follow the motorcyclist without lights or sirens (or using rear lights only) to collect information, 2) Call in information via radio, 3) Initiate the stop only when close the target motorcycle, 4) arrange to have multiple officers available and, when possible, have officers in front of the motorcycle, and 5) use the patrol vehicle’s PA system to instruct the rider to pull to the side of the road, turn off the engine, or take other appropriate action.
In a Chapter titled Approaching the Vehicle and Managing the Interaction, NHTSA suggests law enforcement: 1) maintain situational awareness with spotlight, 2) determine appropriate side to approach from, 3) ask the motorcyclists to put the kickstand down, 4) instruct rider to remove helmet, 5) ask the rider to dismount, and 6) control access to the keys.
You can find the entire document in pdf form by typing “Motorcycle” into the search function at www.nhtsa.gov