The state of Florida entrusts ABATE, American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, to improve motorcycle safety every year. The state charges a $2.50 safety fee when motorcyclists register their bikes, but a state legislator is arguing that the money collected for ABATE isn't being spent wisely.
The issue basically boils down to refrigerator magnets.
Rep. Bryan Nelson will ask a joint legislative committee on Monday to review how ABATE spends its money. Nelson is asking for a $250,000 audit, saying that ABATE spends its money on "trinkets" that do not improve motorcycle safety.
The president of ABATE, James "Doc" Reichenbach, acknowledges that the group does spend funds on refrigerator magnets and key chains, but he also points out that motorcycle deaths are going down.
"That's exactly what it's used for," Reichenbach said. "We have key chains that say 'Watch for motorcycles.' We have magnets, same thing. We have to use (the money) for safety we cannot use it for lobbying, which we don't. But every penny is accounted for."
But Nelson argues that the magnets, and other trinkets, should not be funded by the motorcycle fee.
"It's one thing if you want to do safety seminars, but when you're giving out trinkets and stuff, come on," said Nelson. "Somebody must own one of those trinket companies... It's a bunch of stuff that has no business being part of a government program."
So, do refrigerator magnets reduce motorcycle crashes? Is the key to motorcycle safety simply a brief reminder?
WCTV reports that a previous audit showed that ABATE was working within the confines of its contract and that it was legally providing "material for promotion of biker safety" with its trinkets.