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Time to do more to prevent crashes

ABATE is an acronym for American Bikers for Awareness, Training and Education. ABATE MN has many chapters located throughout the state. North Star is the chapter in the Bemidji area. North Star is in the process of growing and improving each month. We could use new members and new ideas of how to improve.

If you ride a motorcycle or have a family member who rides, you can thank a member of ABATE for your rights of freedom of choice to whether you wear a helmet or choose not to. The adult motorcycle helmet law is one of the items we rallied about this year at Biker Day at the Capitol on Jan. 23.

No helmet on the market can prevent a crash. The best way to prevent injuries is to prevent crashes. Crash avoidance and holding those who use our roadways accountable for their actions is the key. Another key issue we rallied for was increased penalties for careless driving. We feel that Minnesota should strengthen the penalties for those who kill or cause great bodily harm to others while driving in a negligent manner when not alcohol or drug related, and raise the offense to the level of gross misdemeanor. The change will illustrate to the public the seriousness of negligent driving just as enhancing the penalties did with drunk driving in the ’80s.

Hopefully with a combination of stiffer penalties and more awareness as to the results and consequences of negligent driving, the number of deaths and serious injuries will decrease as the public accepts their personal responsibilities to follow the laws of the road and keep their distractions to a minimum.

This change will save lives. If a crash caused death or great bodily harm by negligence, the penalty should increase as well. Although it seems a bit early to be talking about motorcycles, it is really just around the corner when the bikes will be out again. We have more and more motorcycles on the road due to the high cost of gas. This means we also have more inexperienced riders out there. This is where awareness and training comes into play for ABATE. Anyone interested in funding out more about ABATE membership and North Star is welcome to join us at a monthly meeting. We meet the first Saturday or every month at the Eagles Club at 6 p.m.

Mickie Kuchenmeister

Vice President-Treasurer, North Star chapter