Editors Note: Casandra Strafer was injured in a motorcycle crash that took the life of her fiance and our friend, Dmitri Medvedev. Below, she shares her story of Motorcycle Lobby Day in Richmond, VA on 1/20/14. Thanks to her for helping spread the word of motorcycle safety and awareness.
No matter if you’re a resident of the Commonwealth or not, chances are you ride in the metropolitan area which means laws impact us in the District, Maryland and Virginia. I joined VCOM (Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists) simply because I have permanent residency in VA and of course because of my intimate experience with the laws after my accident over a year ago.
Instead of embarking on a fruitless endeavor for money from the man who killed Dmitri and injured me, I decided to start putting my energies into laws supporting motorcycle safety and awareness. The motorcycle lifestyle is usually one of great passion. But with great passion comes great responsibility. Not only in the way we ride but in how we protect that lifestyle as well. Being present at Motorcycle Lobby Day and speaking with your delegates is probably the most direct way you can make an impact. Emailing or sending a letter to your delegates or senator is another way. Being present at the annual legislative round table in September allows you to introduce amendments or new bills entirely with the possibility of the coalition supporting your suggestion. Providing other riders with this information is also key. Remember everyone should know everything. There are a lot of other ways to get involved as well.
Getting involved now so we can be educated and experienced in a few years is crucial. This experience taught me above all else, we need more young people out there lobbying! We are the future. (After seeing a lot of gray beards I would say the definition of young is anyone under 50, no hard feelings!) Getting involved is quite simple and is very rewarding. There are a lot of awesome people out there working hard on these laws and they will prepare you with the right tools to make a difference. If you are interested in getting involved on a national level you will want to join the MRF.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation is a great federal level organization worth while because of 2 reasons: We all live in an area where we ride in several states. And no matter how much work we do at a state level, if equal diligence is not applied throughout the country we can still face a great challenge on a national level.
If you live or ride in VA please pay close attention to these bills:
HB1215 Violation of Right of Way, Delegate Rob Bell. We support this legislation
Makes a failure to yield offense reckless driving if it results in the death or serious bodily injury of another. Most important it will require the defendant to stand in front of a judge. This does not control the judge’s decision, it it allows them to make one.
Currently this violation carries a PREpayable $35 fine, meaning if there is a ding dong police officer at the scene it may be reported as improper driving and just an accident.
HB211 Insurance Coverage for Inconvenience, Delegate Danny Marshall. We support this legislation
Provides reimbursement for handling the legwork necessary to obtain alternate transportation, lost wages, etc…if you have been in a 2 vehicle accident and found not at fault.
Currently the liability recipient gets no consideration for these items. This only applies to the wronged party.
HB441 Insurance Coverage Salvage Vehicle, Delegate Matt Farriss. We support this legislation
Reduction in rates for those policy holders who hold a “salvage vehicle” title.
Currently insurance companies make policy holders pay full premiums, however fail to compensate at the full amount or new vehicle amount when time for pay out comes around. Check your policy type, Scheduled value policy or Actual cash value. Some companies wont insure “rebuild salvage” vehicles.
HB542 Face Mask in Public, Delegate Delores McQuinn. We support this legislation
This clarifies that there must be an attempt to conceal your identity, while wearing a mask.
Currently this is a FELONY in the Commonwealth. There have been cases where riders were stopped for wearing a bandanna or scarf over their face while riding. It also adds penalties for concealing your identity while committing a crime.
HB122/SB383 New Vehicle Definition “Autocycle” Delegate Ed Scott, Senator Bryce Reeves. We support this legislation
Adds a definition for three wheeled “automobiles”. Removes this type of vehicle from our statistical pool.
Autocycle is a three wheeled vehicle with a steering wheel and non-straddle seating.
Currently this type of vehicle is classified as a motorcycle. It is not. Counting this vehicle in our statistical pool can skew how future bills are introduced and passed. It directly affects laws pertaining to motorcycles.