to the state house for better negligent driving laws

This morning I was one of several people to testify before the Washington State House Judiciary Committee in favor of HB 1339 – the Vulnerable Users Bill.  This is the companion to Senate Bill 5326.

You can find the video here.  Reading and discussion of the bill begins about 0:47:30 minutes in.  Testimony by some of us affected by negligent drivers begins at 1:11:00.

This is the third year the bill has been considered, which demonstrates that it apparently takes time to debate and consider a legislative equivalent of motherhood and apple pie.

I was impressed with how well-organized the Cascade Bicycle Club folks were.  We met prior to the hearing, talked about what we needed to accomplish, and decided on an order for testimony.  Last time, the folks who had lost family members went first.  This time, they wanted the testimony related to cycling accidents to go first, with the pedestrian accidents finishing. 

Some people apparently feel that cyclists are too reckless – a feeling that shows up in just about any conversation about cyclist-motorist accidents.  It’s immaterial, because as David Hiller of the Cascade Bicycle Club testified, a motorist is only charged with negligent driving if there is not “contributory negligence” on the part of the cyclist.  In the Senate hearing, one of the members seemed to require this rudimentary reminder.

Hearing the stories brought tears to my eyes.  Simple cause, with big effect.  In the pictures below, the caption “concerned citizen” really means “person who lost someone because of negligent driving”.

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Stricter laws will not bring Melissa Brulotte’s daughter, Colleen Zakar’s nephew, or Nancy Norton’s father back.  What I do like about the proposed penalties are that they attack a root cause (negligence) with better awareness, and better education.


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