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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Puerto Rico Introduces Tough New Motorcycle Laws

U.S. Commonwealth Has Toughest Restrictions of Any U.S. Territory

As part of a strict safety law signed by the governor of Puerto Rico, the tropical U.S. commonwealth will require motorcycle drivers to wear protective jackets, gloves, long pants and boots.

The new law also harshly lowers the maximum allowable blood-alcohol level for motorcycle and scooter drivers below levels allowed for automobile drivers.

According to the law's sponsors, it was induced by a sharp spike in motorcycle and scooter accidents.

In an eleventh-hour effort to stop the law, hundreds of motorcyclists protested by revving their engines while riding past Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila's residence in San Juan. These bikers argue that adults should be allowed to decide to wear a helmet for themselves.

Puerto Rico formerly had less stringent rider regulations than most U.S. states. Now it has the most restrictions of any of the 50 states, according the American Motorcyclist Association.

Association spokesman Lance Oliver said, "There's really no place under the U.S. flag that has restrictions that are as strict as Puerto Rico."

Drivers of two-wheeled motor vehicles on the island now must wear reflective vests after dark, in addition to the heavy protective gear. The legal blood-alcohol limit is now .02 percent for bikers, down from .08 percent, which will remain the limit for car drivers.

Driver education helps ensure the safety of American drivers. The National Safety Commission recommends The Driver Education Handbook for Parents as a valuable teaching tool for parents who are concerned with their teen's driving safety and understand the value of quality instruction.

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