Q&A with AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman and Government Relations Director Michael Sayre on the AMA’s stance on helmet use and laws

Worker inspecting a helmet

Among AMA members and motorcyclists in general, one of the most discussed issues is the organization’s position on helmet use. Some years ago, the AMA Board of Directors adopted a formal position statement urging voluntary helmet use but opposing state or national laws mandating helmets.

By Peter Horst

Dec. 14, 2021

Critics of the statement argue the AMA is anti-helmet. Supporters reject that claim, countering that mandates have unintended consequences that can harm motorcycling.

We decided to go straight to the top and get answers. AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman has an in-depth understanding of this issue. Before joining the AMA’s Washington, D.C., staff in 1994, he was a government relations specialist for the Motorcycle Industry Council, and a legislative aide and research associate in the New York State Assembly.

While Mr. Dingman was in the AMA’s D.C. bureau, the organization was successful in repealing federal penalties on states that didn’t have helmet laws.

Before rejoining the AMA in 2006 as AMA President, he held the position of Assistant Commissioner for Transportation Safety at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, where he also headed the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman
AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman

Mike Sayre, AMA director of government relations in Washington, D.C., is directly involved in the day-to-day implementation of the AMA’s legislative agenda, and has an intimate knowledge of the current state of affairs in the highly charged partisan environment of the nation’s politics.

AMA Director of Government Relations Michael Sayre
AMA Director of Government Relations Michael Sayre

American Motorcyclist: There seems to be some confusion and misinformation among non-members and even AMA members regarding the AMA’s position on helmet use and helmet laws. What’s the overview on helmet use from the AMA’s point of view?

Rob Dingman: The main point is that the AMA is a strong advocate of helmets and helmet use, as well as the use of other protective equipment. We simply want the decision to be voluntary, not mandatory. It’s a well-reasoned position that I find our members understand and support, even if they initially were OK with a helmet mandate because they thought it was harmless. But we can and should do a better job of explaining our opposition to mandates and our support for voluntary helmet use.

To read the whole interview click here.

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