Florida Gov. Jeb Bush backs a proposal that all motorcyclists must take 16 hours of safety training, but shied away from endorsing a call for mandatory $50,000 rider insurance coverage.
Citing a dramatic increase in motorcycle registrations and injuries sustained in crashes, Florida Department of Highway Safety Executive Director Fred Dickinson plans to include the two proposals in his 2005 legislative package. The department is overseen by the governor and his cabinet.
Dickinson's proposals come a month after a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in the three years after Florida's 2000 repeal of its mandatory helmet law for riders older than 21, the number of motorcyclists killed in Florida was up 81% over the number killed from 1997 to 1999. There were 933 bikers killed in the last three years, versus 515 in the three years before the repeal.
Dickinson said he believes the rise in deaths during the surveyed period has more to do with a huge surge in motorcycle ridership than helmet use. Currently, people under 21 are required to take a safety course to get a motorcycle license, but no one else is required. He said none of the 150,000 people who have taken the course during the past two years has died in a crash.
The second proposal, which Bush questioned, regards insurance rates. Motorcyclists in Florida are not required to carry motor vehicle insurance as car owners must. Current law requires motorcyclists who do not wear helmets to carry $10,000 in medical coverage, but that protection can be through a health care plan. The proposed change would require all bikers to carry at least $50,000 worth of coverage.
Backing for that proposal comes from hospitals and state health officials, who say $10,000 doesn't begin to cover the cost of medical care needed for most serious motorcycle crashes.
Copyright 2005 Powersports Business