The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has announced that its "Justice for All" campaign enters its second year with promising legislative momentum, as well as active participation and generous financial support from enthusiasts nationwide.
Justice for All focuses on the inadequate sentencing of drivers who kill or seriously injure other motorists. The AMA hopes to get new laws passed in all 50 states to increase penalties for these drivers, and seeks to include motorcyclist-awareness instruction in each state's driver-education programs.
The AMA has confirmed that 16 states -- including Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia -- are considering Justice for All-related legislation. Other states already have taken action.
Pennsylvania increased penalties for careless driving resulting in injury or death; ABATE of Pennsylvania, backed by the AMA, was the driving force in getting the bill passed. The Washington (state) Road Riders Association worked for a law that makes it more likely that reckless motorists who injure or kill others will be charged with vehicular assault.
The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association led a successful effort to include a motorcycle-awareness component in state driver-education classes; a similar law was enacted in Washington state. Massachusetts and Washington join Maine, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia in educating drivers to become more aware of motorcyclists, and comparable bills are being considered in five other states.
Beyond legislative advocacy, others are contributing financial support to Justice for All.
The Hey Dude! Foundation Trust donated $4,000 -- on top of $3,500 donated the year before -- raised through a charity golf tournament. The Floribama Riders, an AMA-chartered club of sport and touring motorcyclists, donated $400. George Kemmerer of Pennsylvania, whose son, Eric, was killed by a careless driver, contributed $4,000. Along with donations, the AMA is fielding a daily stream of calls, letters and e-mails from motorcyclists asking how to get involved in Justice for All.
The AMA launched Justice for All in February of 2004, after a number of cases involving inadequate sentences made national and regional news.
An Iowa driver crossed the center line and struck a group of six motorcyclists, killing three and seriously injuring two, and yet received only a $70 fine. An Oklahoma motorist ran over a motorcyclist who was slowing to make a right turn, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, and was sentenced to 30 months probation and unspecified "acts of kindness." And in South Dakota, a U.S. congressman and former governor with a long history of traffic offenses sped through a stop sign at more than 70mph, colliding with and killing a motorcyclist. He was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to only 100 days in jail.