Thursday, April 15, 2010

CBC Asks for Urgent Action to Help Protect Cyclists from Careless Drivers

The California Bicycle Coalition (CBC) is asking for urgent action that will help protect vulnerable road users--cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, etc.--by creating penalties for careless driving that causes bodily injury. CBC is backing Assembly Bill 1951 meant to curb careless injury-inducing driving and is asking anyone that agrees w/ this cause to send in a letter of support. The letter needs to be received tomorrow, this Friday, April 16, 2010. Here's more detailed, pertinent info copy/pasted from the CBC email:


April 14, 2010


Help CBC push for increased penalties for careless driving

On Monday, Apr. 19, the Assembly Transportation Committee will hear Assembly Bill 1951, authored by San Francisco Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and sponsored by CBC. The bill proposes tougher penalties for careless drivers who injure others.

This bill faces an uphill battle -- the California District Attorneys Association has vowed to fight our efforts to criminalize rule-of-the-road violations that injure motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. We need your help in demanding safer roads for everyone.

Please send a letter of support for AB 1951 to the Assembly Transportation Committee chair and the bill's author by Friday, Apr. 16. These letters will be referenced in testimony at the Apr. 19 hearing at the State Capitol.


Various sections of the California Vehicle Code define driving offenses and specify penalties. Section 21070 defines a violation of Vehicle Code Division 11 provisions (basic rules of the road) as an infraction. Sec. 42001.19 imposes a base fine of $70 for a violation of Sec. 21070 that results in an injury; a violation causing great bodily injury is punishable with a base fine of $95.

AB 1951 amends Sec. 21070 to specify that a violation of Div. 11 that results in an injury may be charged as a misdemeanor. The bill amends Sec. 42001.19 to specify that a violation of Sec. 21070 that causes an injury is punishable by a base fine of $145 and from 5 to 90 days in jail.

Penalties for all injury-causing driving offenses must be comparable and must reflect the seriousness of the consequences for victims. The fines currently specified for injury-causing violations of Sec. 21070 are less than half the amount of fines for other kinds of injury-causing driving offenses, even though all use similar definitions of "injury" -- Sec. 21070 fines are even lower than those for some non-injury misdemeanor driving offenses. Unlike all other injury-causing driving offenses (including some non-injury offenses), fines for Sec. 21070 violations are not punishable with a jail or prison sentence.

Criminal penalties for careless driving will help protect all road users, especially those most vulnerable in a collision with a motor vehicle, including bicyclists, pedestrians, runners, skateboarders, road construction workers and farm equipment operators. According to data published in the Alliance for Biking and Walking's 2010 Benchmarking Report, bicyclists and pedestrians in California are disproportionately at risk in vehicle collisions: they account for 1.1% and 10.6% respectively of all trips in California and 2.9% and 16.7% of all vehicle collision fatalities in the state.

Deterring careless drivers will help hold down healthcare costs borne by health insurers, employers and taxpayers. The San Francisco Injury Center for Research and Prevention at UCSF tracked the treatment of pedestrians hit by cars within San Francisco and added up their costs. From 2004-2008 that cost was almost $75 million -- an average of more than $20,000 per injured pedestrian over those five years -- with 76% of the total costs publicly funded by Medicare, MediCal and other public funding sources.


Using this downloadable sample letter (Word doc), send a letter of support for AB 1951 to Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Bonnie Lowenthal and copy Assemblymember Ammiano. If you can, write the letter in your own words using the template as a model.

If you've experienced or witnessed a collision involving a careless driver, briefly describe the circumstances -- but remember, our focus is on careless driving only. This bill does not address reckless driving, speeding or DUI, which are already subject to substantial penalties.

If you're a member of CBC, a local bicycle coalition and/or a bicycling club, also mention that in your letter.

Be sure to keep your letter as concise as possible. Long letters aren't necessary for showing support and may not get read.

Send your letter via U.S. Postal Service or fax, or deliver by hand. Delivery by email is OK so long as the signed letter is included as a PDF attachment.

Full text of AB 1951

Fact sheet about AB 1951

"Broken," Bicycling Magazine, Jan-Feb 2008

Comparison of penalties for driving offenses causing injury or death

About the California Bicycle Coalition

The California Bicycle Coalition is a non-profit education and lobbying organization working to improve bicycling conditions throughout the State of California. CBC's mission is to create safe, healthy and livable communities in California by promoting bicycling for transportation and recreation. Learn more about CBC.

1 comment:

  1. Whew! Faxed my letter of support today, just in time. Exciting. Expect more statewide updates from the California Bicycle Coalition to be published on this blog. They're doing great things to protect cyclists and can use our help to create more livable streets in California.