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Oppose VA HB 1850. Let us transport our children!

January 13, 2011 by  

All Virginia Motorcyclists need to be aware of House Bill 1850 which has been introduced by Delegate Christopher Stolle of Virginia Beach. It prohibits any child under the age of eight from riding on a motorcycle. If you have a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin or neighbor who enjoys riding with you and is under the age of eight they would be unable to do so anymore if this bill passes. I know that many of you share memories like mine. My daughter and I have spent many hours since she was six riding at events such as the Vets ride, the 911 ride, etc. She has learned responsibility, charity and patriotism in part from her contact with motorcyclists and the motorcycling community. Delegate Stolle wishes to rob future generations of such memories.

The Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists (VCOM) strongly opposes this bill. In an effort to understand the reasoning behind this bill, Jim Cannon and I met with Delegate Stolle this morning. He advised us that the bill was introduced at the request of the Chief of Police of Virginia Beach. The Delegate also clearly believes in this bill. His reasoning was that Virginia
Code already requires children under age eight to be restrained when traveling in any motor vehicle and that this bill merely clarifies the code. He also felt it was a safety issue. Despite our arguments he held firm to his position.

Let’s look at the Delegate’s arguments. First, Virginia Code Section 46.2-1095 requires that any person who drives on the highways of Virginia any motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968, shall ensure that any child, up to age eight, whom he transports therein, is provided with and properly secured in a child restraint device. (emphasis added). You do not
place a child in a motorcycle. It is impossible to get in a motorcycle. You get on a motorcycle and therefore the child is being transported thereon not therein. As such this section does not apply to motorcycles. When this legislation passed not a single member of the General Assembly was considering motorcycles. If the delegate wants to clear up the code he can do so by adding motorcycles to section E of the statute which lists vehicles
to which the statute does not apply, such as taxicabs, school buses and limousines.

The Delegate’s safety argument also fails. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles there have been fourteen children age eight and under injured as motorcycle passengers over the past three years. That is an average of less than five per year. There have been no deaths in the past three years. How is this safety issue? It seems to me that the motorcycling parents of this Commonwealth are doing a pretty good job of deciding for
themselves when their children are ready to be motorcycle passengers.

I would urge all motorcyclists to call and/or email Delegate Stolle and voice your concerns over HB 1850. Delegate Stolle’s phone number is (804) 698-1083. His email address is DelCStolle@house.virginia.gov

I would also urge you to contact your legislator and let him or her know how you feel. You can find the contact information for every legislator at the following link:
http://lis.virginia.gov/111/mbr/MBR.HTM

It is of great importance do this now. The session is only 45 days long and this bill could come up in sub-committee soon. When VCOM receives notification of the subcommittee meeting we will put out another notification so that anyone who wishes to attend can. The more motorcyclists we have in sub-committee the more likely we can defeat this assault on the rights of motorcyclists. You can also follow VCOM on twitter @VAMotorcyclist.

I would also strongly urge you to attend Lobby Day this Monday, January 17, 2011. Come to the Capitol with other motorcyclists and tell Delegate Stolle and other legislators how you feel about this bill and other matters of interest to Virginia Motorcyclists. There will be a legislative meeting starting at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday January 16 at the Holiday Inn Airport in
Sandston, VA. We will discuss all upcoming legislation and how to speak with your legislators. After the meeting there will be a free BBQ Dinner cooked by Stewart Newton. The next morning we will depart for the Capitol where you will have access to members of the General Assembly and their aids. After we speak with the senators and delegates we will go to Penny Lane Pub where lunch will be served compliments of Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group. I hope to see you there.

If you have any questions or comments concerning this or any other matters please feel free to contact me.

Matt Danielson
Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group
1-800-321-8968
www.motorcyclelawgroup.com

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