Motorcycle deaths and injuries have increased; in 2022, there were 6,000 motorcycle accidents and over 500 motorcycle fatalities. Florida has more than 650,000 motorcyclists who can ride all year. Florida has always been the biker destination that enables out-of-state riders to visit/winter in Florida and attend events and rallies. The overwhelming number of riders raises the problem of bikers being hurt and killed at the hands of drivers who are driving distracted.
Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation to expand motorcycle safety and education opportunities. Senate Bill 838 allocates funding to three not-for-profit organizations to establish a motorcycle safety and education program in order to reduce motorcycle accidents in Florida.
ABATE of Florida is the state’s primary motorcycle rights organization, or “MRO,” with about 20 local chapters across Florida. The group is essentially the advocacy voice for Florida’s motorcycle community. ABATE stands for American Bikers Advocating Training and Education.
The organization’s 29th “Rally to the Capitol” saw membership recognize motorcycle riders who have died during the past year and advocate for motorcycle safety legislation (HB 709, SB 838) currently working its way through the House and Senate.
The bills, sponsored by Sen. Jay Collins and Rep. Taylor Yarkosky, would require the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to contract with a nonprofit focused primarily on motorcycle safety and education.
The bill sets requirements for the nonprofit, namely that it be a Florida-based group that has been promoting motorcycle safety for at least 30 years and has a membership of at least 3,000 people. ABATE of Florida, with about 6,000 current members and a more than 40-year track record, would qualify for the contract under the proposed requirements. The contracted nonprofit would administer an education program. It would be funded through a $2.50 fee that DHSMV already collects from Florida riders when they apply for a motorcycle license endorsement.
The fee, which ABATE of Florida advocated for, was intended to be used “exclusively” for motorcycle safety and education when it was put in place, but over the years, the law has been changed to allow it to be used to fund “the general operations of (DHSMV).”
The legislation under consideration this year is moving forward with bipartisan support. SB 838 cleared the Senate Transportation Committee with a unanimous vote two weeks ago; HB 709 advanced through the House Transportation & Modals Subcommittee last week, also with a unanimous vote.
Motorcycle Rider News believes all drivers and bikers should receive more safety education and training.
- Where is more driving education for vehicles?
- How is the state of Florida working with young drivers to stop them from driving distracted?
- This bill appears to put so many restrictions on what organizations can tap into such funds. Their requirement that program administrators be in business for 30+ years, will eliminate all safety motorcycle schools, biker charities, and other motorcycle safety classes, including Accident Scene Management which teaches riders how to render proper first aid in the event of an accident from receiving any funding.
- What is the state of Florida doing to ensure that all road drivers carry at least the bare minimum liability insurance?
- The state of Florida recently passed more legislation that would make it more difficult for injured motorcycle riders to recover damages after being hit and sustaining injuries. For more information, please check out SB-837 or click here