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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

Association (AMA).

     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

defensive-riding techniques.

     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: and ask for the Motorcyclists Matter

information kit. You can also find additional information about this program by

going to the AMA's website,, and clicking on the

"Protecting Your Right to Ride" button on the left side of the screen.