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As motorcycle season begins, proposed bill aims to hold more reckless drivers accountable

If approved, the bill would make reckless driving a misdemeanor, while also making changes to the NYS driver's exam to address other topics, such as road rage.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Motorcycle season is only beginning, but Western New York has already seen at least three fatal accidents involving motorcycles recently, including one last week in Niagara Falls that killed a 20-year-old motorcyclist

Among the issues motorcycle riders typically face is being noticed. 

"We're just hoping that people pay attention (to motorcycles)," said Lt. Garrett Slawatycki, with the motorcycle unit at the Cheektowaga Police Department.

Added Jody Ferrara, president of Abate NY: "We're almost invisible. With the car that are built today, the a pillar, which is the section between the front windshield and the door, it's much wider because it's a safer vehicle. The problem is that it's such a blind spot that we can be lost." 

Aside from checking your blind spot, Slawatycki says you should stay off your cell phone, utilize your mirrors, and keep your distance.

That applies to motorcyclists too.

"Just in a different way. So they need to be highly visible, wearing proper gear and proper equipment, reflective things, especially at night," Slawatycki said. 

With nicer weather finally here, motorcyclists will be out more.

Abate New York brought many of them together for a 50-mile ride across Western New York just to share that reminder. 

For those who won't pay attention, State Senator Tim Kennedy is also trying to strengthen existing laws on reckless driving with a proposed bill that would make reckless driving a misdemeanor.

It's already gaining support from motorcyclists such as Chris Genovese. 

"What we're hoping for is to have drivers be more aware of their responsibility to vulnerable users on the road, which includes motorcycle riders, but also bicyclists, pedestrians, etc.," Genovese said.  

Genovese, a lawyer at Kantor Law Firm, says if the Reckless Driver Prevention bill gets passed, a reckless driver could get up to a $1,000 fine, one year behind bars, and the driver would have to take a driver's course to get their license back.  

But there's another piece of the legislation revving up support. 

"The new bill would also provide for education. There would be updated questions on the driver's test for your license, which would include motorcycle safety, but also road rage, work zone safety, school bus safety, important topics. So we're really in support of this new bill," Genovese said.