Texas mandatory training bill specifically targets sport bike riders

According to “’High-performance’ bill focuses on motorcyclists” on the elpasotimesonline.com site, Texas joins North Carolina and Missouri with a mandatory helmet law up before its legislature this year. The Lone Star state has a particularly diabolical one, however—and a pretty damn near useless one as well.

Texas, if you recall, is one of the four states where MSF is establishing a regional “campus”. And, apropos of nothing, Texas has 20 Rider’s Edge sites as well.

The bill would require training for all who buys or operates a “high performance” motorcycle on or after September 1, 2009. The law would only apply to those particular kind of motorcycles.

The article doesn’t really define what a ‘high-performance’ motorcycle is—for that you have to go to the bill text: “”High-performance motorcycle” means any motorcycle referred to, called, labeled, or described as a “sports bike”, “sports motorcycle”, “high performance motorcycle”, or other similar term, in any materials given to an original purchaser at the time of purchase from any dealership or retail seller of such motorcycle, or contained in the owners manual or guides from the manufacturer of such motorcycle, whether or not actually delivered to the purchaser.”

Iow, those who ride street bikes, sport-tourers, touring bikes, adventure, dual-sport, cruisers or choppers aren’t required to take training.

And it applies to “all owners and operators” who buy or operate that specific kind of motorcycle on or after September 1, 2009. There’s no provision for the already licensed and no provision for age. There’s no grandfathering clause at all.

AND, they have to take that training within 180 days (6 mos)—

AND carry proof that they have taken training (and passed, I presume) with them at all times they are riding the motorcycle—

AND if they don’t, it’s not less than a $500 or more than a $1,000 fine.

The justification the article gives for the bill is that a 20 year-old, Myles Anderson, was killed in a crash “only weeks” after buying his motorcycle. But had this law been in effect, Anderson could still have been legally riding that bike for up to 6 mos—and therefore, this law wouldn’t have saved him.

If the law passes then it makes a legal judgment that a particular style of motorcycle is particularly dangerous.

Yet sport bike riders are far more likely to wear helmets and protective gear than street, cruiser or touring bike riders. Factors associated with safety and safe riding.

So why is this bill fairly useless (beyond the fact that NHTSA says that no study has found training to be effective in reducing crashes)? Because the article says that the Texas Department of Public safety 41,500 riders took the course and 7,000 got their licenses without taking training. Which suggests that about 86% already got their licenses through taking the learn-to-operate course offered in the state.

Iow, the vast majority of Texans already take training no matter what kind of motorcycle they ride. This law, then would only apply to that portion of the 14% that own or operate specifically sport bikes. Not to mention the grave injustice that those who already have their endorsement would have to take the course if they had the gall to ride someone’s sport bike or buy one of their own.

But let’s dig a little deeper here: According to what was submitted to the SMSA, 88% of BRC students passed the course in 2007. And that means that, according to Texas law, they don’t have to wear a helmet. When it comes to what we’re told makes us safer, the law giveth and the law taketh away…

So if more riders took training, more riders would be legally allowed not to wear helmets…

But helmets are held up as the most effective safety equipment there is—and are supposed to save so many lives…

Texas has the third highest rate of motorcycle deaths in the USAFlorida was first in 2007 and Texas barely trailed California. In Florida, 52% of the fatalities were helmeted and 48% weren’t.

But in Texas of 375 riders killed in 2007, 87% were, in fact, helmeted and only 13% weren’t.

Hmmmm…86% were trained in 2008 and 87% of the fatalities were helmeted. So the two things that are supposed to be THE panacea for all that ails us–doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job.

And the vast majority of Texan motorcyclists aren’t sport bike riders…

And the training bill would only affect the small proportion of that 14% that didn’t get training to get their license…

Not to mention that NHTSA says that they don’t even know what good or effective training would be and no study has shown that training is effective in reducing crashes. But they’re really big on helmets because they’re 37% effective for preventing death.

And now we’re back to Myles Anderson who bought a bike and was killed within a few weeks–and that’s so bad all of Texas needs a bill. As if no cruiser or chopper or touring bike or street bike rider had ever died within a few weeks of buying a bike–with or without training. So, without absolutely any proof that this would work–and if it passes would make it legal for graduates to ride without helmets–the good legislators in Texas are thinking about voting for this bill?

And they call California the land of fruits and nuts.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Legislation, Motorcycle Safety, Motorcycle Training

4 Comments on “Texas mandatory training bill specifically targets sport bike riders”

  1. Wobbles Says:

    “The article doesn’t really define what a ‘high-performance’ motorcycle is”

    And this is the same problem Second Ammendment supporters have been fighting with loosy, hard to define news catchy terms like “Saturday Night Specials” and “Assault Weapons.”

    The product is not the problem, it is the user who abuses the product that makes the news. When we try to control the product through legislative means, it only shifts the problem (the user/abuser) into another product area. And that invites even more restrictive legislation.

    Allowing the legislature to define “Saturday Night Specials” and “Assault Rifles” has only invited TPTB to revise those definitions once the legislation is in place. Riders who killed themselves on sportbikes yesterday could have just as easily abused a cruiser. Will that be the next category of “high performance” bike? Who will define “high performance” for you tomorrow?

    Land of the Free? Hardly. Wake up, Texas, don’t let them get this foot into your doorway!

  2. Rabid Transit Says:

    When a grieving family member approaches their legislator and says “you must do something about this problem”, the legislator would look like a heel to the constituent if he did nothing. So, s/he puts together a bill just like the one above and names it after the deceased. The legislator knows full well the bill will not get passed out of committee, but s/he can say to the family “I’m very sorry, but we tried.” This happens all the time.

    It appears from the article this Texas bill was born exactly that way when we read “Anderson’s parents, Chris and Kayla Anderson, asked Chávez to file the measure, which awaits a vote in the House Public Safety Committee.” The proposal will probably die in that committee as it should.

  3. wmoon Says:

    Good point. Yes, I was going to mention about the grieving parents in the entry but I’ve been trying to make the entries as short as I can–which gives readers like you a chance to point out what was left out. ; )

    I agree it should die in committee. As to whether it gets passed out of committee or not, we’ll see if the fantastic Texas motorcycle rights group will step up and make sure it doesn’t.

  4. Lee Keller King Says:

    But the Lane Splitting bill got stuck in committee. Makes me proud to be a Texan. Not!


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