New Florida Law Addresses Motorcycle Safety Education
This summer, Florida lawmakers enacted a new statute that shifts responsibility for overseeing motorcycle education programs from state agencies to private non-profit companies. Proponents of the law argue that the change will improve motorcycle safety, as private organizations may be able to create more effective programs than the state. Others argue that the law essentially defunds the state’s oversight of motorcycle-related education programs, which is detrimental to the goal of spreading awareness about motorcycle safety.
Prior Law Regarding Motorcycle Education
Florida law requires that the Florida Department of Highway Safety Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) collect a fee of $2.50 from motorcycle owners when they register (or renew the registration on) their vehicles. Known as the “motorcycle safety education fee”, this practice raised almost $2 million in 2022. The fee was then used to:
- Create a curriculum for a state-mandated motorcycle safety course;
- Train instructors to teach the course;
- Audit programs to ensure compliance;
- Maintain the motorcycle safety section of the state’s Driver’s Safety Handbook;
- Offer motorcycle safety programs to high school students; and
- Participate in private motorcycle safety groups.
The new motorcycle safety law transfers oversight of these kinds of tasks to private groups.
Florida’s New Motorcycle Safety Education Law
Senate Bill 838 doesn’t create any new motorcycle safety education programs, but actually defunds any already existing motorcycle safety programs run by the state. Those programs will now be operated by three private non-profit organizations, although still funded by the $2.50 fee. To qualify for funds:
- At least one organization must have at least 5,000 members and have existed for a minimum of 30 years; and
- The other two other organizations must have been in existence for a minimum of 20 years and have no less than 1,000 members.
The organizations will be selected by the FLHSMV and must promote motorcycle safety and education. It’s important to note that the law doesn’t specify what types of content the programs must have, nor does it give the state authority to withhold funds when a program is non-compliant.
How the New Law Will Affect Motorcycle Safety
Although the law had universal support in the legislature, how it will affect motorcycle safety in Florida remains to be seen. Critics of the law, however, argue that without the registration fee, the FLHSMV won’t be able to maintain its programs, including oversight of motorcycle safety courses. Fewer funds will also be available for education, as the entire amount raised will be transferred to only three organizations, which can use the funds for everything from hiring workers and buying office equipment to distributing materials. It’s important to note that the law does not change the requirement that those seeking motorcycle licenses pass a motorcycle safety course. Furthermore, riders must still follow the same traffic laws and comply with the state’s helmet law.
Experienced Florida Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Florida and have questions about your legal options, don’t hesitate to call our dedicated Florida motorcycle accident attorneys at Boone & Davis for help.