The use of bicycles and motorcycles on the roadways has become more prominent in recent years. The reason for this increase may, in fact, be due to rising gas prices and the fitness trend. Unfortunately, as a result of this, the number of accidents involving motorcycles or bicycles are becoming higher each year.
Nathan Bowers is an example of a young motorcyclist killed in a road accident. While riding his motorcycle in Brown City, Michigan, Nathan Bower was struck by a vehicle and killed in May of 2009. Nathan’s death at the age of only 19 years old, however, was not entirely in vain, as it brought upon a new House Bill in the Michigan Legislature called “Nathan’s Law.” A friend of Nathan’s, Lisa Cook-Gordon, contacted her representative in the Michigan Legislature and sparked the development of the new law.
What is the New Law?
Nathan’s Law, or HB 5438, was passed on October 14, 2014 in the Michigan Legislature and signed by Governor Snyder. The date of the signing was symbolic as it was also the celebration of Nathan Bower’s birthday. The point of the bill is to decrease the number of accidents between automobiles and motorcycles and/or bicycles.
HB 5438 requires a higher level of bicycle and motorcycle safety awareness. Specifically, the bill requires that driver’s education instruction include instruction on the laws of driving with bicycles and motorcycles. Additionally, the bill requires that there be special emphasis on the “operation on the streets, roads, and highways of this state” of motorcycles and bicycles.
Nathan’s Law requires the motorcycle and bike instruction to be included in the first part of drivers education. This instruction during driver’s education includes classroom instruction time of at least 24 hours, plus an additional 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, and another 4 hours of behind-the-wheel observation. Thus, the law is meant to create a safer environment for both drivers, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. Check out more about the law and the process in which it was enacted here.
Before being passed, the law had a variety of strong supporters, including the League of Michigan Bicyclists, which submitted written testimony to the relevant Committee attempting to convince legislators that more emphasis should be placed on the education of drivers with regards to motorcycles and bicycles on the road.
What Does this Mean for You?
This new law means that the education for new drivers in Michigan has changed. Therefore, anyone taking driver’s education in the state will be affected by these rules. It is important that current drivers, however, are also aware of the dangers of not paying proper attention to those who are using the road for motorcycles and bicycles.
If you or anyone you know has been in an accident involving a motorcycle or bicycle, contact our office to find out more about your options. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help you find out what the best route for you might be to protect your interests.