The U.S. Supreme Court has said that roadside checkpoints for general crime control violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and are presumably unconstitutional. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently gave the state of Georgia a $70,000 grant to conduct motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints, claiming they serve to improve motorcycle and general traffic safety.
The grant just happened to come around the time of Daytona Bike Week, which means any motorcycle going to Daytona, Florida, and on through Georgia, was subject to stops to check for driver’s licenses, registration, insurance, proper ownership, and the influence of alcohol. Motorcycle-only checkpoints are becoming more and more common throughout the nation.
Motorcycle Accidents Are Often Caused By Passenger Cars
Ironically, 75 percent of motorcycle accidents are with another vehicle and in 66 percent of those crashes the passenger vehicle failed to yield. The leading cause of motorcycle and passenger car accidents is the passenger car driver failing to see the motorcycle or seeing the motorcycle after it was too late to avoid a collision.
It seems strange then that the NHTSA is concerned about motorcycles and their riders when it is passenger vehicles that generally cause accidents. It is especially concerning that the federal government is funding a program that blatantly infringes upon a citizen’s constitutional right to be free from unnecessary government intrusion.
Ed Moreland of the American Motorcyclist Association says the government needs to address the following questions:
- How do motorcycle-only checkpoints increase motorcycle safety?
- What authority does the state have to conduct such checkpoints?
- What constitutes “probable cause” to stop a motorcycle at a checkpoint?
Checkpoints Infringement on Motorcyclists’ Rights
Since passenger cars are generally the cause of motorcycle accidents, motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints do not address the root of the problem. Instead, the government should focus its money and efforts on making sure passenger car drivers are more aware of motorcycles to avoid causing vehicle accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your situation and your options.