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Drebbin
01-01-2005, 02:30 PM
Orlando Sentinel (Florida)

December 26, 2004 Sunday
FINAL


HEADLINE: STATE LAX ON BIKERS, FOES SAY
RIDERS SHOULD HAVE TO GET INSURANCE, SAYS A MAN WHOSE STEPFATHER WAS HIT.

BYLINE: Henry Pierson Curtis, Sentinel Staff Writer


A machine inflates Fred Jones' lungs.

He can't breathe on his own or speak after six weeks in intensive care.

The 82-year-old Orlando motorist doesn't know yet that he owes more than $236,918 in medical bills after colliding with an uninsured motorcyclist.

Few riders in Florida carry insurance. The state is one of the last in the United States that does not require motorcyclists to buy crash insurance of any kind. Car owners have no choice: Complete coverage is mandatory.

"What's your option? Do you sue your legislator for passing such a stupid law?" asked Jones' stepson J.D. Morgan. "I don't understand in these days how if you lose your auto insurance, you lose your license. But you can buy a motorcycle without any insurance, and nobody cares."

As more and more motorcyclists take to the road on bigger, more powerful bikes, more and more people are finding themselves in the predicament of Jones, one of at least six Central Florida motorists involved in fatal crashes with uninsured bikers in recent months, according to court records.

A week ago Friday, for instance, an uninsured motorcyclist struck a vehicle and died in front of traffic court in Daytona Beach. Witnesses told police he had been speeding and passing in a 30-mph no-passing zone on North Beach Street.

Three weeks ago, another uninsured biker mangled a worker on a section of Colonial Drive closed for repaving.

The tally does not include four deaths in DeLand of two uninsured riders and their passengers who struck a downed tree during a midnight tour of Hurricane Frances' damage.

The noticeable surge in motorcycles on Florida roads -- up 50 percent in four years -- is fueled partly by ride-now, pay-later marketing. A popular model capable of 160 mph costs as little as $39 a month in Orlando.

Why riders don't insure them is simple: No law forces them to do so.

"If I have an accident, it's going to be bad, so why bother? You're pretty much giving your money away," Tae Hee Lee, a 25-year-old Full Sail student, said of reaching speeds of up to 150 mph on Central Florida streets. "Nobody has it."

Lee and more than a dozen others riders dismissed the need for coverage during interviews recently at two "bike night" events in Greater Orlando.

"I'd have to pay like $1,000 a month," Tiffany Grace, 18, said of insurance she doesn't seek after five or six traffic tickets in the past two years. "It's hard not to speed."

A wisp of a rider, she said she hasn't gone faster than 125 mph because the wind pulls her body off the seat. Yet, she recently upgraded from a 160-mph, 600-cubic-centimeter sport bike to a much faster, 1,000-cc model.

"I love knowing my bike can beat most of the bikes out here, and I'm a girl," said the University of Central Florida student.

`A STAGGERING STATISTIC'

With 386,000 registered motorcycles, Florida ranks No. 2 in the country after California, according to the federal Department of Transportation.

State records show about 70 percent of the 24,153 riders injured in Florida in the past four years were uninsured.

"Seventy percent? Wow! That's a staggering statistic," said state Rep. Dennis A. Ross, R-Lakeland, chairman of the House Insurance Committee. "And I'm not sure why Florida has not as a Legislature looked into it. I'm sure there are arguments both ways -- I'm not familiar with either one -- but I tell you this: I will become familiar with them."

By comparison, uninsured motorists represented less than 6 percent of drivers in a survey in December 2003 by the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Besides Florida, only California, Montana, New Hampshire, Washington and Wisconsin allow bikers to ride without personal-injury and property-damage coverage, according to the American Motorcycling Association and interviews with state traffic departments.

"The insurance issue with motorcycles is common sense. It just takes time to convince legislators that public safety is our No. 1 priority," said state Rep. Irving L. Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, of the House Transportation Committee. "This issue is one of the ones we're going to address because it's just common sense."

Uninsured Florida motorcyclists are responsible under state law for the costs of any injuries and damage they cause. No database tracks how often uninsured riders meet their obligations, such as paying for a passenger's injuries or burial.

State highway officials found that 57 percent of uninsured motorcyclists involved in crashes contributed to their crashes, compared with 44 percent of insured motorcyclists, according to a breakdown of the 24,153 motorcycling injuries during the past four years.

Florida's only mandatory motorcycle coverage requires anyone older than 20 who rides without a helmet to have at least $10,000 in medical insurance.

Age and years of experience appear to be significant factors in who buys coverage.

Jimmy Nealis, 39, of St. Cloud and others such as Brian Tweedie, 39, of Winter Park, longtime riders who carry insurance, say they think novices are least likely to buy coverage. New riders don't appreciate the routine dangers of riding, such as running on cold tires in the state's otherwise balmy winter months, they said.

"It just felt illegal," said Nealis, a 1,200-cc Kawasaki sport-bike rider who has continued to buy insurance since moving to Florida in the late 1980s.

Insurance costs stay high because study after study shows motorcycles are the most dangerous type of motor vehicle.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released information this month showing motorcycles are involved in 35 fatal crashes every 100 million miles compared with 1.7 fatal crashes for cars.

Motorcycle claims cost 1.6 times more than auto claims if both are insured at the same levels, according to a 2003 study for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

SPORT-BIKE POPULARITY

The most costly are sport bikes -- the high-performance models at the center of a nationwide boom that the Motorcycle Industry Council reports has sold 24 percent more two-wheelers in the past four years than in all of the 1990s.

Most of these sport bikes are purchased by riders younger than 25, many of whom are looking for thrills as well as affordable transportation.

Riders speak lovingly of what it's like to sit astride a fiberglass-and-aluminum frame housing an engine that generates 130 horsepower or more and can reach 125 mph in a quarter-mile.

"That's why I ride this one," said Lee, claiming his bike produces a therapeutic rush at high speed. "It just kills your stress."

By not buying crash insurance, an 18-year-old rider with a clean record in Orlando saves $374 to $3,558 a year, depending on coverage, according Progressive Insurance, the largest motorcycle-insurance company in the United States.

That's coverage for a 600-cc Yamaha YZFR6, an $8,500 sport bike easily capable of 160 mph, according to dealers and riders.

The same 18-year-old can buy that bike in Orlando for no money down at 3.99 percent annual percentage rate and $39 a month for 24 months, ads show.

A comparable car, a $28,000 Ford Mustang GT Premium Coupe with a top speed of 149 mph, would cost the Orlando teenager $5,148 a year in mandatory coverage, said Progressive spokeswoman Shannon Radigan.

Insurance costs soar with each speeding ticket, agents and riders say.

"I don't even ask," Rafael Ortiz, 34, of Orlando said of what insurance for his 1200-cc Kawasaki Ninja would cost him after getting 20 tickets through the years for speeding in his car.

HIGH SPEED PROVES FATAL

Insurance statistics show claims for sport bikes outpace those for cruisers -- the heavier, more comfortable models favored by some older riders.

"These vehicles experienced losses per policy that were 1.5 to 2 times those of other motorcycles with large engines and 3 times the all-motorcycle average," the NTHSA study said of sport bikes.

Jones, now in his sixth week in Orlando Regional Lucerne Hospital, barely survived his collision with a sport bike. Its rider didn't.

Jonathan Morton, 20, was riding a 600-cc Suzuki to work the morning of Nov. 19 when he collided with Jones on Ivey Lane.

Orlando police estimated the southbound motorcycle was in excess of 100 mph -- at least three times the posted 35-mph speed limit -- when it struck Jones' car as the car turned north onto Ivey Lane from a side street.

Morton died instantly, police said.

Jones, an Army truck driver in World War II, suffered a head injury. The crash remains under investigation.

Within hours, Jones underwent brain surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center, his family said. He continues to display strokelike symptoms with left-sided weakness.

In the days after the crash, Jones' nine stepchildren discovered he hadn't paid for uninsured-motorist protection when he bought his Daewoo compact car last summer.

His automobile insurance paid a total of $9,000 toward his medical bill. He must pay what his veteran's health insurance and Medicare don't cover, said stepson J.D. Morgan, who holds power of attorney.

On Wednesday, Jones' family received his latest hospital bill and written notice from a Gainesville lawyer that the dead motorcyclist's family is suing Jones for wrongful death.

Morgan, whose family operates Morgan Ministries in Pine Hills, said the lawsuit is a new test of his faith.

"It's really looking bleak, to tell you the truth," he said. "Not only does he not have a Christmas, he has all of these bills to face if he recovers."

CONTACT: Henry Pierson Curtis can be reached at hcurtis@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5256. see microfilm for charts.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO: Tae Hee Lee
PHOTO: Tae Hee Lee, 25, a student at Full Sail, leaves a restaurant in Casselberry recently. He says nothing relieves stress like the speed and power of his sport bike. He does not carry motorcycle insurance: `If I have an accident, it's going to be bad, so why bother?'
GARY W. GREEN/ORLANDO SENTINEL
PHOTO: Tiffany Grace, 18, at a motorcycle event in Casselberry recently, started riding 6 months ago when her mother bought her a sport bike, but she does not carry motorcycle insurance. `I'd have to pay like $1,000 a month,' she says. She has 8 brothers, who all ride Harleys.
GARY W. GREEN/ORLANDO SENTINEL
.
CHART: UNINSURED AND ON THE ROAD
About 2/3 of Florida motorcyclists involved in crashes during the past 4 years did not have personal-injury and property-damage insurance.
SOURCE: Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
SHINIKO R. FLOYD/ORLANDO SENTINEL
.
CHART: MOTORCYCLE FATALITIES
Motorcycling deaths have doubled since 1999, after Florida repealed its mandatory helmet law in 2000 for riders older than 20.
SOURCE: Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
ORLANDO SENTINEL

wreckerman
01-01-2005, 03:19 PM
To some this article up in a nut shell, ALL PEOPLE NEED TO TAKE ON PERSONAL RESPONIBILYU Yes it can be said that if a bike smacks a school bus or a truck that most likely the biker would not survive so why carry insurance. Why! because it is your own personal responsibilty. And hind site being 20/20 would you want to leave a large debt to your family and love ones if so that's pure selfishness, it is your responsibilty as a citizen to be properly registered (bike) have rider endorsement (drivers license) and to be properly insured.

Drebbin
01-01-2005, 03:34 PM
To some this article up in a nut shell, ALL PEOPLE NEED TO TAKE ON PERSONAL RESPONIBILYU Yes it can be said that if a bike smacks a school bus or a truck that most likely the biker would not survive so why carry insurance. Why! because it is your own personal responsibilty. And hind site being 20/20 would you want to leave a large debt to your family and love ones if so that's pure selfishness, it is your responsibilty as a citizen to be properly registered (bike) have rider endorsement (drivers license) and to be properly insured.

A-FRIGGEN-MEN BROTHER !

Wide
01-01-2005, 04:33 PM
I never knew that.

Unbelievable, drive a 800 pound bullet with no ins :wacko:

TexasFatBoy
01-01-2005, 04:57 PM
You nailed it, wrecker! These kids are thinkin' only of themselves and not the consequences their actions may have on others.

For some of those who were victims of these folks, since they weren't in their vehicle (like the worker that was struck by a bike), carrying un/underinsured motorist coverage wouldn't even help.

Although, keep in mind that while all states require auto coverage and most require bike coverage, over 1/3 and in some states as many as 1/2 of the drivers out there have no insurance at all. caged

garyad
10-24-2006, 10:47 AM
This article doesn't even touch on the fact that alot of these kids are most likely operating these bikes without the proper license.

Mungo
10-24-2006, 03:53 PM
Hold on just a second. I see this differently. Another occasion for politicians to screw things up.

Now, I was always raised to be the type of person to be responsible for my actions. I don't condone riding a motorcycle without insurance.

But, we have mandatory liability insurance required here in NC. Know what it is? $30,000. For many people, they blow through $30k in the first hour at the emergency room. This guy they started off the article with owed $236k? Now would a mandatory $30k policy help this guy out?

I have to carry uninsured/underinsured insurance on my policy for people who don't buy enough of their own insurance. Total whack! There are people out there who get by without insurance, and I wind up picking up the tab.

Yes, people need to be responsible for their actions, to the fullest extent. But caution needs to be exercised on the part of lawmakers to make it worthwhile.

I hate to see politicians excited over crap like this because they rush to make laws that just turn out to be utterly stupid. As if they produced anything else.

Shorty
10-24-2006, 04:03 PM
This article doesn't even touch on the fact that alot of these kids are most likely operating these bikes without the proper license.Thats exactly right! When I took my BRC over half the folks in there had been riding for years and never bothered to get their license. Doesnt seem right to be able to insure a bike youre not licensed to ride but not much makes sense when it comes to this crap anyways.
BTW, welcome to HCG gary. :D

anarchy
10-24-2006, 05:30 PM
Hold on just a second. I see this differently. Another occasion for politicians to screw things up.

Now, I was always raised to be the type of person to be responsible for my actions. I don't condone riding a motorcycle without insurance.

But, we have mandatory liability insurance required here in NC. Know what it is? $30,000. For many people, they blow through $30k in the first hour at the emergency room. This guy they started off the article with owed $236k? Now would a mandatory $30k policy help this guy out?

I have to carry uninsured/underinsured insurance on my policy for people who don't buy enough of their own insurance. Total whack! There are people out there who get by without insurance, and I wind up picking up the tab.

Yes, people need to be responsible for their actions, to the fullest extent. But caution needs to be exercised on the part of lawmakers to make it worthwhile.

I hate to see politicians excited over crap like this because they rush to make laws that just turn out to be utterly stupid. As if they produced anything else.

you got it!!!

D.N.F.
10-24-2006, 05:39 PM
I got excited as I read the title wrong.

State Lox on bikers. Obviously a new smoked salmon recipe.


Obviously minimum insurance standards must be increased to keep up with the real world of health care costs.

dannytheman
10-24-2006, 07:42 PM
I'm ok with paying for insurance for the bike, I ride it all the time, but for those who don't, I guess it adds up..

I pay only 200 a year....And because I drive the car less, that went down to...

Driving a vehicle is not a right, it's a privilege. Once you leave your property you are on legal right of way and taxpayer paid for roads..

RidgeRunner
10-25-2006, 07:12 PM
I have full coverage on me and mine and wouldn't leave my driveway without it. I guess the issue here IS personal responsibility....and actually caring about others...

Fxsts103ci
10-25-2006, 08:05 PM
I fault both parties.

the rider should have had insurance. If u cant afford the ins payments then u shouldnt buy the bike. And there is referance to speeding I cant really comment on it because its just an alligation at this point.

The driver should have had unisured/underinsured coverage on his policy. Its used when the other driver has either has no insurance or is underinsured . Now underisured is a little tricky .
Lets say u have 100/300 coverage on your policy - and the other party has say 25/50 . He is underinsured to your Ins. But reverse the limits and now he has 100/300 to your 25/50 he is now not underinsured. But his Liability ins will kick in to protect u . But his 100/300 is only when he is negligent as apposed to Uninsured/underinsured portion of your policy that kicks in when the criteria is met reguardless of fault.