We are now half way through the legislative session. Today is the first day of crossover at the Virginia General Assembly. That means that the Senate may only consider bills (other than the budget bill) that have passed out of the House of Delegates, and the House may only consider those (again, other than the budget bill) that have passed out of the Senate. That means that HB 1700 is now in the Senate, and SB 836 is now in the House.
HB 1700, which eliminates the five second limitation that a motorcycle brake light may modulate, has been assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee. Current code states that a motorcycle brake light may modulate for up to five seconds when the brake is applied. After that it must burn steady. Unfortunately, a motorcycle with a smaller brake light can blend into the brake lights of larger motor vehicles in front of it, thus camouflaging the motorcycle from vehicles approaching from the rear. Allowing the brake light to continue to modulate while the brake is engaged makes the motorcycle more conspicuous and more likely to be seen by drivers approaching from the rear.
This bill came out of the House of Delegates on a unanimous vote. It does not have any opposition. As such, VCOM’s strategy is to let this bill fly under the radar. We will be at the committee meeting to answer any questions that may come up, but other than that we are going to stay out of the way.
SB 836 went to the House Transportation Committee and has been assigned to Subcommittee # 3. This is a favorable subcommittee comprised of members who have historically been friendly to motorcycling issues. SB 836 allows motorcyclists to stand on both footrests under certain circumstances. Under current law, a motorcyclist must ride only upon the permanently attached seat. This is contrary to what is taught throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Basic Rider Course. The BRC teaches that it is appropriate to stand on the footrests when crossing obstacles such as railroad tracks and potholes. The problem is that motorcyclists have been receiving tickets for doing exactly what they were taught to do. SB 836 attempts to correct that problem.
This bill came out of the Senate 34 – 4. As such VCOM is taking a similar approach to that of HB 1700. While we will be at the subcommittee meeting with materials from the BRC in order to answer any questions, we feel that we have put this bill in a position to survive any challenges, However unlikely, that it may face.
As always if anyone has any questions or comments about either of these bills, or about any other matters concerning laws affecting motorcyclists, please feel free to contact me. We will continue to send updates on both of these bills.
McGrath & Danielson
Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group