Driver’s education will now include lessons on bicycle and motorcycle awareness
L to R: State Representative Paul Muxlow, State Representative Terry Brown (sponsor), Governor Rick Snyder, Clint Bower - father of Nathan Bower, Tammy Bower - mother of Nathan Bower, John Lindenmayer - League of Michigan Bicyclists Advocacy & Policy Director and State Senator Morris Hood III at the October 14th bill signing of the Nathan Bower Act, which adds information about bicycle and motorcycle awareness to Michigan driver's education curriculum.
Lansing (October 14, 2014) – This morning Governor Snyder signed Public Act 317, the Nathan Bower Act into law. The new law adds information about bicycle and motorcycle awareness to Michigan driver’s education curriculum, and emphasizes the importance of motorists being aware of their surroundings while driving.
The bill (HB 5438) saw broad bipartisan support in the Legislature, collecting 89 out of 110 House co-sponsors before passing unanimously in both the House and Senate. LMB played a leading roll in ushering the bills through both chambers by organizing supportive testimony before the House and Senate Committees on Transportation and urging LMB members to contact their legislators.
The Nathan Bower Act is named after 19-year-old motorcyclist Nathan Bower who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle-motorcycle crash in 2009. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Snyder on October 14th to honor Nathan Bower’s birthday. The Bower Family, along with LMB, ABATE, PEAC and others, played an instrumental roll in advancing the legislation swiftly through the House and Senate.
“This is a great day for Michigan bicyclists and motorcyclists. Nathan’s Law is a significant first step in making Michigan roads safer for all users and will help reduce bicycle injuries and fatalities in our state,” said John Lindenmayer, League of Michigan Bicyclists Advocacy and Policy Director. “LMB is grateful the Michigan Legislature recognizes our state needs to do a better job educating motorists on how to safely share the road with cyclists.”
Education is a key component to making roads safer for cyclists and motorcyclists, but currently most driver’s education instructors gloss over the topic due to time constraints in the curriculum. In 2013, 27 bicyclists were killed in Michigan, a 35% increase from 2012 according to the Office of Highway Safety Planning. Additionally, 1,479 bicyclists were injured during that time frame. Furthermore, Michigan bicyclists often report being physically and verbally harassed by drivers.
“We hope this support will carry over to another package of legislation we’ve been working on for vulnerable roadway users,” Lindenmayer went on to say. “In concert with Nathan’s Law, these common sense bills (HB 4792 and HB 5080) would create enhanced awareness of cyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair users. Yet, despite the bills passing unanimously out of committee, and hearing from over 1,100 bicyclists this summer, Speaker Bolger has refused to schedule the bills for a floor vote.”
"Nathan's law is one important step to protecting those who share the road with automobiles,” said State Representative Terry Brown (D-Pigeon) who sponsored the legislation. “All of us who are behind the wheel are responsible for being aware that we hold the lives of others in our hands as we drive. I appreciate the hard work of so many individuals and organizations and the bipartisan manner that has led to the governor's signing of this law on Nathan's birthday."
LMB hopes that the passage of the Nathan Bower Act signals an important change, where Michigan lawmakers and citizens realize and embrace the fact that motorists, motorcyclists, and bicyclists all have the right to use Michigan roads, and that everyone deserves to be protected.
LMB encourages all bicyclists and drivers to review basic tips on how to share the road by taking the Share Michigan Roads safety pledge at www.shareMIroads.org.
The LMB board and staff would also like to thank the Bower Family and all of our coalition partners who worked with us in support of Nathan's Law. We also would like to extend a special thank you to State Representative Terry Brown for sponsoring HB 5438 and we extend our deepest appreciation to the entire Michigan Legislature for supporting the legislation.
We encourage our members to take a moment to send a short thank you note to your Representative and Senator for voting in favor of HB 5438.
Interview with bill sponsor Terry Brown:
ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI