The Alabama legislature’s concerns over the safety of accident victims has led towards new legislation requiring a motorcycle license for Alabama bikers. Prior to the new legislation, motorcycle enthusiasts had worried about their safety on the road as well due to inexperienced motorcyclists who were a danger to themselves and others.
In the state of Alabama, 87 motorcyclists died in an accident on a rolling average between 2009 and 2013, resulting in a total of 435 motorcycle fatalities. The new legislation is designed to make motorcyclists and drivers alike safer on Alabama roads and interstates.
Regulations in Alabama Prior to the New Legislation
Prior to the new motorcycle licensing requirements, Alabamans were not required to have a Class M endorsement on their license in order to ride a motorcycle. As a result, there were no written tests or rider safety courses required before operating a motorcycle.
Since the new legislation which deems to change the lack of restrictions in Alabama have yet to be signed into law by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Alabama remains the only state in the country that does not require a Class M endorsement for motorcyclists. Many motorcycle operators believed this was a dangerous precedent in the state of Alabama since it increased the dangers involved for everyone else on the road, experienced motorcyclists included.
According to Dave Reid, chairman of the Alabama Federation of Motorcycle Clubs,
Alabama has an “embarrassingly high injury and fatality rate where the motorcyclist is ruled ‘at fault’ simply because of a lack of training and ability to control the motorcycle.”
The new legislation is designed to reduce the high rate of accidents and fatalities arising from the inadequate training cited by Reid and other motorcyclists.
Changes to the Licensing Requirements for Motorcycle Operators
The new licensing requirements will require Alabamans to take a rider safety course or pass a written test in order to receive a Class M licensing endorsement. Written tests are available for free upon request when a motorcyclist requests a Class M endorsement under the newly proposed law. It is important to note, however, that Alabamans who received a Class M endorsement prior to the new legislation will be grandfathered in under the new law, meaning they will not need to adhere to the new requirements.
The legislation will also authorize police officers to ticket motorcyclists who are driving a motorcycle without a license, providing law enforcement with valuable authority that should result in keeping Alabama roads and interstates safer. Reid believes that the new changes will be instrumentally important for reducing accident risk and increasing safety on Alabama roads. “In order to reduce the injuries and fatalities, we must have a mandatory written and skills test,” Reid said.
As of yet, the passed legislation has not yet become law. If Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signs the bill — and most parties involved with the legislation believe that he will — the new law will go into effect on January 1, 2016. While the new law is likely to pass and will likely make Alabama roads a safer place, there is still no guarantee that the bill will turn into law.
In the meantime, responsible motorcyclists and drivers alike should be aware of the fact that many motorcyclists may still be operating their motorcycle without passing a written test or safety skills test. If you have suffered injuries resulting from a negligent motorcyclist in Foley Alabama area or within Mobile, Baldwin or Escambia Counties, contact Noel B. Leonard, an experienced accident and injury attorney to receive the comprehensive legal representation you deserve. Contact Noel 251-732-2701 or schedule a consultation online.