California’s ‘Jarrad’s Law’ Restricts Motorcycle Operation by Young Cyclists

By March 30, 2011 April 1st, 2018 Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Motorcycle injury leaves lasting, devastating effects on families and victims. While many enjoy the thrill of the open road, they also must contemplate the risks associated with motorcycle operation. While many states are back and forth on helmet laws and restrictions, most agree that motorcycles and teenagers are an ominous pair requiring constant legislative attention and regulation.

Sacramento-area teenager Jarrad Cole’s legacy lives on in one of California’s latest bills to help protect teenagers wishing to learn to operate a motorcycle. Cole was tragically killed in 2007 after his body was whipped off his new Suzuki motorcycle while his father retired to the garage to retrieve items to set up a learning course.

It was none other than Jarrad’s younger brother, Sawyer, along with his high school classmates who orchestrated a successful grassroots campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with motorcycles and the importance of proper safety and training. After many months, and the help of lobbyists, Sawyer and his classmates were able to successfully petition the California legislature for tougher laws on young motorcyclists.

Motorcycle injury is one of the leading types of personal injury cases in America today. In data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a motorcyclist is three times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash than the driver of a car, per mile traveled. While helmets save lives, they are not the deciding factor in many motorcycle accidents. According to the same survey, less than half of all motorcycle fatalities involved the non-use of a helmet.

These staggering statistics, coupled with the fervency of Sawyer Cole’s efforts, lead the California legislature to enact Jarrad’s Law, a law that strengthens the restrictions upon young motorcyclists. Prior to the enactment, anyone over 17 and one-half years of age could operate a motorcycle at will with only an instructor’s permit except at night, on a freeway or with a passenger. No safety course requirement was necessary and anyone under age 21 could operate a motorcycle without the benefits of safety training.

Seeing a dangerous loophole in need of amendment, the legislature now requires any individual between the ages of 15 and 21 to complete 15 hours of motorcycle safety training. Cyclists under age 18 must also successfully complete a bid for a Class C motor vehicle driver’s license as well. At the completion of the safety course, young cyclists must pass a written examination followed by a mandatory six-month learner’s permit process.

While no legislative statute will completely eliminate all motorcycle injury of fatalities, legislation like Jarrad’s Law is certainly a step in the right direction. Young people are especially susceptible to thrill-seeking behavior and a limited understanding of consequences and effects. Hopefully, with increased efforts toward motorcycle safety, young cyclists will have a stronger respect for motorcycles and their inherent risk. Tougher restrictions on young motorcyclists will keep all California motorists safer.

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