New Jersey considers motorcycle safety initiative
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The first attempt to turn a major new safety
initiative on behalf of motorcyclists into law has begun with the introduction
of a bill in the New Jersey Legislature, reports the American Motorcyclist
Using a blueprint drawn up by the AMA, the Concerned Motorcyclists of New
Jersey organization has worked with state Assemblyman Peter J. Biondi (R-Morris,
Somerset) to introduce AB-3528, a measure that would increase penalties for
drivers who injure or kill other road users.
The bill is modeled closely after the Motorcyclists Matter campaign
developed by the AMA early this year. The campaign directly attacks one of the
root causes in a majority of car-motorcycle accidents -- car drivers who pull
into the path of motorcyclists, leaving the riders no escape from a painful,
sometimes life-threatening, crash.
"Research shows that more than half of all car-motorcycle crashes are
caused by other vehicles violating the right-of-way of a motorcyclist," noted
Sean Maher, AMA director of state affairs. "This campaign is designed to hold
drivers accountable for the injuries they cause."
The bill would increase the penalties for a driver who is convicted of or
pleads guilty to a charge of failing to yield right of way in an accident. The
minimum penalty would be $200 and a 30-day drivers license suspension if the
accident results in bodily injuries to another person. If the injuries are
serious, the penalty would rise to a minimum of $500 plus a 90-day suspension.
And if the driver's actions result in the death of another person, the minimum
penalty would be a $1,000 fine plus a six-month suspension. The additional money
raised by these increased fines would be deposited in the state's Motorcycle
Safety Education Fund, where it would be used to train new motorcyclists in
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
In a related development, Washington Gov. Gary Locke has signed into law a
bill supported by the Washington Road Riders Association that takes a similar
direction to the Motorcyclists Matter campaign. Under the new law, a person can
be charged with the felony crime of vehicular assault if he or she operates any
vehicle with disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily
harm to another.
"With these two bills, the first steps have been taken toward making car
drivers accept responsibility for the injuries they cause to motorcyclists,
bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users," Maher said. "We hope
that legislators in other states will help spread this program across the
To get involved in this effort, contact Maher at (614) 856-1900, ext. 1265,
or by e-mail at: email@example.com and ask for the Motorcyclists Matter
information kit. You can also find additional information about this program by
going to the AMA's website, www.AMADirectlink.com, and clicking on the
"Protecting Your Right to Ride" button on the left side of the screen.