Motorcyclists Increased Fee to Support Medical Research


In Indiana, some motorcycle owners are angry they have been singled out to pay an extra $10 registration fee to help fund new efforts to research spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. This fee is estimated to generate approximately $1.6 million annually for the research efforts, but many motorcyclists are not happy.

Jay Jackson, executive director of ABATE of Indiana, a group that advocates motorcycling safety, says motorcyclists have nothing against medical research but don’t want to be the ones solely responsible for funding it. He said if it were a fair tax assessed to everyone, then there’d be no problem.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a motorcyclist himself, is against the fee and says it was “slipped” into the budget in the late stages of the budgetary process. The fee and the fund had been in the budget in the early stages but had both been later removed. Daniels asserts the fee was put back in during the last days of the budgetary approval process. Daniels states that he and other cyclists are not against spinal cord research but contends motorcycle accidents cause less than 1 percent of spinal cord injuries. Daniels stated, “It seems a little unfair to hit that particular segment of society to pay for that particular purpose.”

However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 5,000 motorcyclists are hospitalized each year with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Representative Carolene Mays, who pushed the proposal, said that about 160,000 Indiana residents suffer from spinal cord or brain injuries, and the revenue generated from this new fee increase will lead to new research on those serious medical conditions and enable the statue to pursue part of $50 million in federal research funding for the injuries.

Mays said she chose to fund this program using motorcycle fees “because there is a proven link between motorcycle accidents and traumatic spinal cord and brain injuries.” At the current time, there are approximately 160,000 motorcycles registered in Indiana and about 30,000 members of ABATE of Indiana.