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Friday, March 4, 2011 - 11:54am

Motorcyclists Face Highway Checkpoints

Next week thousands of motorcyclists traveling to Daytona Bike Week in Florida could be held up by the Georgia State Patrol.

Bikers heading south along Interstates 75 and 95 will have to pull over for safety inspections.

The checkpoints, scheduled for Wednesday, are funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Peter terHorst of the American Motorcyclist Association says it's no coincidence police are cracking down during Bike Week. The gathering draws about half a million motorcyclists to Florida for professional drag races, rallies and other events.

"It's opportunistic in that sense," says terHorst. "I'd be very surprised if they had scheduled this road check a week later because the volume of motorcycle traffic on the highway would be far less than it's going to be."

Lt. Paul Cosper with the State Patrol says the checks are intended to promote safe conditions on the interstates. He likens the motorcycle stops to other highway safety checks done throughout the year on all motor-vehicles.

"We do it every day with road checks we set up all over the state," says Cosper. "We're not just checking for impaired drivers but we're also looking at people's vehicles as far as do the lights work, do the tail lights work, is there tread on the tires," he says. "Safety road checks are always looking at the whole picture."

But terHorst questions why vehicle specific check points weren't used during recent stock-car racing events in Daytona.

"I'm not aware that Georgia or any other state or the federal government for that matter encouraged cars and motor-homes and SUVs to be pulled over along the way," says terHorst. "So the question is: Why are they profiling motorcyclists?"

State Patrol officials say the check points single out motorcyclists because they run a greater risk of being killed due to a crash.