“Look twice, save a life”, This is possibly a slogan you may have heard or seen signs in front yards of motorcyclists pointing towards biker safety. Since 2019, over 10% of fatal accidents involving motor vehicles were with motorcycles, and with over one hundred thousand registered motorcyclists in Louisiana, our state still ranks in the bottom half of numbered motorcycle statistics across the country.
According to www.statista.com and www.Motorcycle.com , Louisiana ranks 32nd in motorcycle registration and 49th in motorcycles per capita. With rankings like these, it is no wonder there is not a lot of talk about motorcycle awareness while on the roads.
Fortunately for bikers, there is an organization that fights and pushes for more motorcycle education and awareness across not only the state but country. This organization is ABATE, America Bikers Active Towards Education. ABATE is a non-profit organization and the only Motorcycle Rights Organization that is recognized within the state of Louisiana. Their mission is to “initiate, endorse, and sponsor educational programs through rider education, public awareness, legislative and affirmative action… create and promote a positive image of motorcyclist’s groups”.
ABATE of Louisiana participates in the legislation of the state through lobbying. Over the last couple of years, ABATE has been able to lobby with Louisiana legislatures and representatives to create and pass bills which bring more attention and awareness to motorcyclists. Two of their most prominent and recent bills are HB 376, hands free bill, and HB 733.
HB 376 is bill that would up penalties for drivers caught on their phone while at the wheel. This bill was supported by Rep. Mike Huval and Rep. Schamerhon as they agreed with ABATE in pointing out the dangers of cell phone use of drivers to motorcylces.
HB 733 was another step in the right direction for motorcycle awareness and lobbying for ABATE as it passed through the state house 99-0. HB 733 was supported and pushed by Rep. Horton in that “all motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane”. HB 733 also adds penalties to drivers who have been deemed by this bill and have injured or killed a motorcyclist. As you can see, ABATE is pushing for more recognition and awareness of motorcycles by acting legislatively.
I had the opportunity to sit down with two members of one of the Louisiana chapters this past spring. Mr. and Mrs. Stoltz, Northshore residents, have been active members in ABATE for over a decade. They have seen this organization go from having 10 people at chapter meetings to over a 100. “Driving itself is already dangerous, and when you add a cellphone or any other type of distractive device and then a motorcycle comes into the blind spot of that car, it can turn scary really quickly” Mr. Stoltz stated.
When talking to the Stoltz, you could see and feel the excitement from them to know everything they have been working towards has finally come to surface. Not only at the state level but in local parishes as well. The president of St. Tammany Parish declared the month of May Motorcycle Awareness Month. Mrs. Stoltz went on to say, “Our main goal is motorcycles and to bring awareness to bikers, but if we can bring awareness and educate people about driving with motorcyclists on the road, it will make the road not only safer for bikers but for all those driving”.