In Florida, a bill is moving through the Senate which would increase penalties for drivers who seriously injure a motorcyclist in a vehicle accident.

In fact, it’s called the Stiffer Penalties Bill, and it’s no joke. Florida legislators recognize that their state’s abundance of sunshine and good weather attract a large number of motorcycling enthusiasts. Mix an abundance of motorcyclists with an abundance of out-of-state drivers you get the perfect storm of serious vehicle crashes.

Florida Senate Bill 1754 increases criminal penalties for a driver who causes serious bodily injury or death to a motorcyclist. In part the bill says that causing serious bodily injury translates to a second degree misdemeanor, and includes paying a fine, incarceration, and a loss of license.

The bill does more than protect motorcyclists, however. It extends to bicyclists and pedestrians as well, making any vehicle crash that causes death to someone walking or riding any kind of bike a much more serious offense with much more severe penalties.

If the bill is approved, which seems likely given it has the support of multiple motorcycling and bicycling groups, it would go into effect on July 1 of this year.

In the meantime anyone who drives the streets in Florida should be aware that they share the roads with people who are not riding in two-ton steel and plastic vehicles with seat belts and air bags. In fact, some riders have nothing but a pair of leather pants to protect them and just because your vehicle is bigger and tougher doesn’t give you the right to run into them, crowd them, cut them off or endanger their lives.

There is plenty of room on the road ways for everyone. And if your vehicle is bigger that makes it all more important that you yield even if you have the right of way and drive with caution and care at all times.

Image: dan /