Steve Seely has been riding motorcycles since he was 14. One thing his years on the road have taught him is that you never can spend too much time thinking about safety when you're on a bike.
A $3 fee that takes effect Nov. 1 is intended to help fund motorcycle safety and education training for both experienced and inexperienced riders.
Consumers will pay the fee when registering their motorcycles.
Seely, 51, of El Reno, is glad to see the state provide the training.
Seely has been in his fair share of scrapes over the years, including one in Tennessee in 2008 when a woman pulled out in front of him, forcing him to stop suddenly.
The accident totaled his bike and sent him to the hospital with several injuries.
"The highway patrolman who came to the hospital said he was looking for the luckiest man in Tennessee," Seely said.
According to Oklahoma Tax Commission records, 123,906 motorcycles were registered in Oklahoma last year, a 7.4 percent increase from 2008.
At a time when government regulations and taxes are taking a beating nationwide, it seems most in the motorcycle community are in favor of the new fee.
Bruce Horne, of Oklahoma City, is a longtime rider who hosts a local radio show about motorcycles.
"Personally, I have no qualms about it, and I don't know anyone who does," Horne said. "I think anything that promotes safety is a good thing. I think we could also use a little more education for motorists on how to be a little more aware of people on bikes."
The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reported 105 motorcycle fatalities in 2009, with 1,269 injuries.
Kevin Behrens, assistant director of highway safety, said some of the funds will be used for advertising, promoting safety and awareness.
Other funds could be set aside for training, Behrens said. The Oklahoma Advisory Committee for Motorcycle Safety and Education will decide how the money is spent.
"Edmond operates a very good motorcycle survival course that we have heard a lot of good feedback about," Behrens said. "They have a traveling classroom that has been successful. Those are the things I envision coming out of this."
That's just fine with Tony Maxey, owner of Maxey's Cycles in Oklahoma City, a family-
Understanding what you are riding also is helpful. Maxey said he has seen first-time riders ask about buying powerful 1000cc motorcycles.
"You get people who have never ridden before, have some extra money and want to spend it on a bike," he said. "They want the fastest bike they can get. I always ask them about their level of experience first. But when it comes down to it, as a dealer, I sell it to them."
Maxey said any training new riders receive should focus on awareness of one's surroundings and how to make motorists aware of the biker's presence. He said wearing brightly colored clothes is one way to be noticed.
While most riders seem to support the new fee, helmet laws remain a divisive issue. Behrens said the state recommends riders wear helmets, but Oklahoma has no helmet law for adults. That's just fine with Seely, who usually doesn't wear one.
"A helmet isn't going to stop a car from pulling out in front of you, which is how most accidents happen," Seely said.
"Helmet laws are bogus. They don't prevent accidents, and they limit your vision. That's like telling someone who lives in a bad neighborhood to walk around in a bulletproof vest all the time."