SB 10-040, entitled “Concerning Motorcycle Safety Education Programs”

 

This bill is sponsored by Senator Lois Tochtrop and currently does not have a House Co-Sponsor due to Representative Merrifield’s recent removal of himself as the Bill’s Co-Sponsor.

 

Senate Bill 10-040, presented by Senator Lois Tochtrop, would add 5% for “Motorist Awareness of Motorcycles” by raiding the Motorcycle Operators Safety Training (MOST) program fund, the fund dedicated to rider education. This is an unnecessary piece of legislation, which will cost motorcyclists more money in the long run.

 

Motorcyclists are forever involved in “rider education” here in Colorado. In many ways, this is a good thing. Each year a motorcyclist maintains their motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license, we pay a $2 fee to the MOST fund. For every year we register a motorcycle in Colorado, $4 of the license plate fee goes to the MOST fund, too. This adds up to over $1,038,000.00 annually (actual number of registered motorcycles in 2009 x $6.00 per CDOT info).

 

85% of the collected funds go to reimbursing student tuition, range costs, workbooks, and promotion with in MOST. The remaining 15% of the money goes to administration fees, such as reimbursement of operational equipment.

 

What this means is, the MOST program reimburses rider training operators $50 per student…regardless of what the operator charges students for the training.

Training facilities charge from $99 to $300, not including the $50 reimbursement, for what is essentially the same class based on MOST standards. According to Paul Peterson with CDOT, which manages these funds, 11,015 people in Colorado trained to ride last year, generating $550,750 in reimbursements to the riders ed contactors, Whether this is a wise way to manage and use the money collected can be debated, but hopefully we have 11,015 newly well-trained motorcyclists on the roads.

 

Training new and experienced riders is a good thing. It gives us all a few more tools to use to stay safe on the road. Raiding the education fund Colorado motorcyclists pay for to create a “new” fund for awareness is not a good thing. Doing so potentially hampers the rider education process and progress by making it even more expensive to learn to ride properly.

 

A plan to raise motorcycle awareness among the non-riding motoring public is a good idea. Currently, all “awareness” programs focus on riders, not the general public, so a plan to make average drivers aware of motorcycles is a good idea.

 

The key word here is “plan.” What, exactly, is the plan, aside from taking motorcyclists’ money away from its intended, and protected, purpose? Who will manage this new fund? What will the focus be? Who and how will the plan be developed? What will it encompass? Is this just another program that will be farmed out to an ad agency with no real interest in results? Why should only motorcyclists pay for it? If this is a fund to raise awareness of all drivers, shouldn’t all drivers contribute to the fund?

 

It seems there is no real plan, other than to siphon off dedicated motorcyclist dollars to a project that might be figured out later. Until there is a solid, clear plan of action with goals and priorities, not one dollar should be dedicated to such a fund. It’s a good idea, and is a logical step in making Colorado roads safer, but everyone should contribute, not just motorcyclists, and not blindly, and certainly not at the expense of rider education.

 

Further, SB10-040 as written, caps the tuition amount that a provider of Motorcycle Operator Safety Training can charge.  This will force many of the current providers of this training out of business, especially those located in rural areas of the state. It is my understanding that eight of the twelve training schools operating currently in the State of Colorado are apposed to this Bill.  I for one strongly believe in a free enterprise business atmosphere and if we were to lose these rural training providers, many students would be required to wait for four to five months to find an open class.

 

Senate Bill 10-040 is little more than a money grab obscured by smoke and mirrors. Until there is a coherent plan, this bill should be stopped in its tracks.

 

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