I read about the fatal crash of motorcycle Officer James Foster. There are three things we should learn from this tragic accident from this hero.
1. The motorist failed to yield and made an illegal left turn into his motorcycle. She got a $150 ticket for careless operation. The MSF Basic Rider manual states that 60 percent of the motorcycle-car accidents are from this type of accident. In Louisiana, there are not any enhanced penalty laws for such a failure to yield unless there is a stop or yield sign violated. That needs to change.
2. The motorcycle helmet police use and Officer Foster used was a short skull type. Full-coverage modular helmets are used by police in the U.S. In Europe, they use ECE-approved modular full-coverage helmets. Our police should be provided with modular full-coverage helmets to protect them. This practice in the U.S. in all police departments should be changed.
3. There is a problem with U.S. DOT- and SNELL-approved motorcycle helmets. They do not protect against brain damage from angular acceleration that causes acute subdural hematomas and death. Sixty percent of the motorcycle-helmeted riders in a European study, the COST 327 study of 4,700 motorcycle accidents, died due to brain injuries. The standards are outdated.
That needs to change.
I knew Officer Foster. I went in a November Motorcycle Safety Foundation Intermediate Safety Rider Course with him. We talked as we both watched his wife take the MSF Basic Course in Hammond the same day. He told me the Denham Springs Police Department only has a few motorcycle officers, but they have two crashes a year on average, mostly due to left-turning motorists into motorcycles. We talked safety issues. I got his card to contact me to help me lobby for a new right-of-way law in Louisiana. I am an MSF rider coach instructor and vice president of the GNO ABATE Chapter that lobbies for motorcyclists’ rights in Louisiana
I am driven now more than ever to get a new right-of-way law passed and to name it after Officer Foster and to get motorcycle officers to wear better modular helmets to better protect them. They deserve the best.
attorney, MSF motorcycle safety instructor