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Texas Gets Smart, Missouri Sees Red

Texas just elevated itself greatly in my eyes by enacting some very progressive pro-motorcycle legislation. The new law, which goes into effect September 1, 2009, contains seven major provisions to increase rider safety and awareness of motorcyclists by Texas motorists.

Senate Bill 1967 was a bi-partisan effort cosponsored by Texas State Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) and Representative Norma “Da’ Lady” Chavez (D-El Paso). Highlights include funding for a public awareness campaign to promote sharing the roads with motorcyclists, a requirement for the Texas DOT to develop a standard of proof of health insurance for helmetless riders and passengers, and increased penalties for drivers who cause motorcycles to crash by not yielding right-of-way.

But most importantly in my view, and strangely for one of the most conservative states in the Union, is the requirement for all new riders to complete a basic motorcycle operator’s course before they get their motorcycle endorsement. Few states require mandatory training for new riders over 18; it’s my opinion that all riders should get some basic training before they ride; that could save a lot more lives than any helmet law. Sadly, S.B. 506, allowing lane-sharing by motorcyclists, has been twisting in the wind since May 21st. If you’re a Texan, go to your legislator’s office and make a big scene. Pretend he wants to take your guns and make you a socialist.

A lesser (but still good news for bikers) sort of victory was in the Show Me state. There, it’s now legal for motorcyclists and bicyclists to run red traffic signals that aren’t cycling because their magnetic sensors can’t pick up the mass of the motorcycle or bicycle. The cyclists, motor or otherwise, must wait until the light has been red “an unreasonable time” before they can run it, and have to judge if any oncoming traffic is “an imminent hazard.” According to the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, Missouri is the eighth state to pass this kind of law since 2002, and three other states considered similar legislation this year. Kudos to State Senator Bill Stouffer (R).

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MD Readers Respond:

  • Regarding your article on August 20, 2009 about Texas Gets Smart, Missouri Sees Red:
    Responders Matt and Wayne need to take some of Doctor Neal’s Internet Skin Thickener. Geez, guys, relax.
    Fortunately, not all conservatives lack a sense of humor. – Nathan

  • Looking at the statistics on Motorcycle fatalities and training, I don’t think TX is smarter today then yesterday because of Senate Bill 1967. Mandatory training isn’t effective. Just look at Mandatory Driver Education, it’s a waste of money and time. Sure some learn, however, those who are risk takers will still think that they can drive beyond their skills and we still have teens dieing on the highways. Mandatory rider ed will only help those who truly understand that it’s a start, you have learned to ride a small motorcycle in circles in a secured are. They do not have really road expereince and many can pass the test without knowing how to ride. Mac.
  • “Few states require mandatory training for new riders over 18; it’s my opinion that all riders should get some basic training before they ride; that could save a lot more lives than any helmet law.”

    I would perhaps have said that rider training could save more lives than their proposed proof of health insurance for helmetless riders rather than any helmet law. Since head injuries are such a great cause of serious or fatal motocycle accidents I believe a good helmet goes a long way towards reducing such injuries. But simply taking a rider training class and then going out and riding without a helmet is asking for it! Rick

  • What do SB1967 and SB506 have to do with gun control and socialism?
    ” Pretend he wants to take your guns and make you a socialist.”
    Gun control is about TAKING AWAY a right GUARANTEED by the constitution of the United States of America. Socialism is a political philosophy that goes against everything this country stands for. Check history, we’ve fought wars over this. Please do not trivialize these things by using them as an example for your editorials.
    This is an apples and oranges argument and does not apply. There are a lot of conservative motorcyclists who would be offended by your comment, of which, I am one.
    Keep your liberal agenda to yourself. There is enough of it in other media and i do not need it !@%$*%$ up MY passion. Matt

  • Regarding your article on August 20, 2009 about Texas Gets Smart, Missouri Sees Red.

    “Sadly, S.B. 506, allowing lane-sharing by motorcyclists, has been twisting in the wind since May 21st. If you’re a Texan, go to your legislator’s office and make a big scene.”
    For better or worse, the Texas Legislature meets only every 2 years. So SB 506 is dead until 2011.
    “But most importantly in my view, and strangely for one of the most conservative states in the Union, is the requirement for all new riders to complete a basic motorcycle operator’s course before they get their motorcycle endorsement.”
    While it is commendable that Texas is now requiring basic motorcycle training, as usual for the Texas government, no money was provided for the increased training opportunities that will be needed. Since most of the Texas motorcycle training sites are booked months in advance, what will more likely happen is more unlicensed riders, which will reduce safety, not improve it.
    SB 1967 also requires each applicant for an motorcycle license to receive information about organ donation. Additionally, the author of this bill, Chavez, also filed a bill, HB 4531, to require special training for operators of sportbikes.
    I do not think that SB 1967 will actually help anyone, and will probably do more damage than good. Stuart

  • The 81st Legislature, Regular Session, packed up its bags and went home back in June. Along with hundreds of other bills, S.B. No. 506 died. Jonathan
  • Please tell us ,what other states have the law allowing cyclists to
    proceed through a red traffic signal. Glenn

  • Tell me why Gabe Ets-Hokin thinks it is strange that a conservative state pass a law requiring new riders to complete a basic motorcycle operator’s course? And what is this crack suppose to mean, “Pretend he wants to take your guns and make you a socialist.”? This kind of stuff has nothing to do with riding motorcycles and I don’t appreciate it. If you guys don’t like conservatives, just say so and I’ll stop reading your web site. Wayne
  • There’s something wrong with you boy. Harry
  • Sorry, but I disagree with the last item in today’s report about Missouri.
    If the light doesn’t turn green, make a safe right turn, go down the
    street, make a safe left turn into a driveway or parking lot and then
    head back the way that you wanted to go. I guess that I just don’t see
    how this improves safety. Larry