Vehicular homicide bill introduced in Salem

Posted by on June 24th, 2007 at 3:11 pm

The bill was introduced at
a rally in Salem yesterday.
(Photo: Rep. Jerry Krummel)

At a rally in Salem yesterday to bring attention to bike safety bills, Representative Tobias Read and Senator Floyd Prozanski introduced Senate Bill 1058.

The bill would create the crime of vehicular homicide and make it punishable by a maximum of five years improsinment and/or a fine of up to $125,000.

According to the new bill, the crime would be a Class C Felony and it stipulates that,

“Criminal homicide constitutes vehicular homicide when a person negligently operates a motor vehicle or a
boat in a manner that causes the death of another human being…’negligence’ means that a person fails to be aware of a risk that death will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”

If the person is driving with a suspended or revoked license, the crime would be elevated to a Class B Felony.

Sen. Floyd Prozanski has supported
many bike bills this session.
(File photo)

Both Prozanski and Read have been ardent supporters of bicycle bills during this legislative session. Both were instrumental in pushing HB 3314 (the vulnerable roadway users bill) into law.

Read is an avid cyclist and Prozanski was a personal friend of the late Jane Higdon, a women who was killed by a motor vehicle while riding in Eugene just over one year ago.

The bill is being officially introduced at the request of Higdon’s husband Thomas Jefferson and Mary O’Donnell, the wife of Tim O’Donnell who was killed recently while riding on a country road near Cornelius. SB 1058 already has the sponsorship of 15 legislators (7 senators and 8 representatives).

Over on the BTA Blog, lobbyist Scott Bricker says SB 1058 is,

“…a late-session effort to further strengthen Oregon’s laws that enforces against errant drivers who kill.”

This legislation is the latest effort to deal with the growing need to deal with cyclists and motorists sharing narrow, rural roads. That topic is the subject of a front page story in the Metro section of today’s Oregonian newspaper.

Lawmakers will have to act fast if they want this bill to become law. The 2007 legislative session is expected to close by the end of this week.

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G.A.R.CecilAdams Carroll (News Intern)Cbikesrixtir Recent comment authors
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don't know squat
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don't know squat

In the Oregonian today (June 24), page C1 is an article: \”Rural roads are a tight squeeze for bikes, cars\”.

On page E3 of the same paper are several letters to the editor about cars and bicycles and the proposed legislation for stiffer penalties if you run over a cyclist.

There was a post a few days ago about cops harassing cyclists for running a stop sign. Related to that, in this same Oregonian, on page E1 is an article entitled: \”It takes a village to ignore this much rape\”. Read that article and you\’ll have a hint at what the cops SHOULD have been spending your taxpayers dollars pursuing instead of harassing people riding bicycles. Those cops involved in the stop sign sting should be fired.

By the way, if you\’ve gotten a ticket for a traffic citation, would you post the name of the policeman/woman on this website so we can keep track of who is out of line?

Maybe Jonathan can start a spot on this website to start tracking the cops.

Phil Hanson (a.k.a. Pedalphile)
Guest

HB 3314 is good; SB 1058 is better. In terms of environmental degradation, global climate changes, and pending energy shortages, the automobile, as a common means of transportation, has reached critical mass. At this point anything that serves as a means of getting people out of their cars and into or onto other modes of transportation is welcome.

These bills are intended to improve bicycle safety, and when people\’s perceptions of the inherent dangers of cycling begin to change in positive ways, we\’ll see more cyclists using the roadways, and fewer cyclists splattered all over them.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

This is exactly what\’s needed in this state, and we should all do what we can to express our support for passing this bill this session.

Martha S.
Guest
Martha S.

Awesome. I was not expecting this but I am certainly pleased.

Krista
Guest
Krista

Here are our legislators\’ email addresses. We must voice our support for SB 1058 if we want them to act quickly.

Sen. Ron Wyden (DEM)
http://wyden.senate.gov/contact/

Sen. Gordon H. Smith (REP)
http://gsmith.senate.gov/webform.htm

peejay
Guest
peejay

rixtir:

I agree with you. What\’s happened to this world?

steve
Guest
steve

This bill is fabulous and has restored some of my faith in our state government. We should all be diligently writing letters and if possible showing up in person to support this bill.

As to \”don\’t know squat\” you have a very appropriate name. Traffic cops are exactly that. Traffic cops. All they do all day long is write tickets and monitor traffic. They are not the same cops who would be investigating rape cases or trolling for \”bad\” guys.

They exist to solely monitor traffic. Happily that includes bicycles in this city. In many places there are not even cyclists to \”harass\”.

If you have such a problem with them, don\’t run stop signs, or better yet look for cops before running the stop signs. Here is a hint, if there is a cop in front of you, don\’t break any of their silly laws!

Seems to work well for me and I have trouble getting out of bed with out commiting at least a misdemeanor!

Slick
Guest
Slick

Krista: Wrong senators. This bill is in the Oregon Not the US Senate. Here\’s where people should look for their senator http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

JeremyE
Guest
JeremyE

Oh, my! Finally!

Logan 5
Guest
Logan 5

This is good news but realistically, can this actually make it through this session?

pdxcommuter
Guest
pdxcommuter

In response to Steve in #7, I suspect that if there were fewer traffic cops writing useless tickets for bicyclists, then there would be more money available to hire real cops to do real work.

(Jonathan: under Mozilla and Firefox under Linux, the preview is now coming on automatically, and it\’s horribly slow. Under Internet Explorer in Windows, there\’s no preview, so it\’s not slow. But, well, it\’s IE and Windows.)

pdxcommuter
Guest
pdxcommuter

I had another thought: write to Ginny Burdick. Say something like:

While I do not appreciate your handling of the fixed gear bill, here\’s an opportunity for you to do something that would earn back some respect in the bicycling community. Please support SB 1058, which would create a vehicular homicide law in Oregon. There\’s more detail about this in Jonathan Maus\’s bikeportland.org blog. See http://bikeportland.org/2007/06/24/vehicular-homicide-bill-introduced-in-salem/

Brad
Guest
Brad

Yes! By all means write your elected state officials today and get this passed before the legislative session ends! This is a watershed moment for cyclists in Oregon.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

This is just the beginning laws protecting cyclists. Your representatives in the Oregon Legislature need to know what you (and Burdick\’s daughter, lol) think of this legislation, so they know which way to vote. Tell them!

Cbikes
Guest
Cbikes

Its Great! to see our state legislature act so quickly (given its abysmal track record)….I wonder how fast they could pass the Idaho stop sign law….

Scott Bricker, BTA
Guest
Scott Bricker, BTA

I like the spirit but don\’t count on the bill passing this session. I agree that this bill would not only strengthen our law, but it would actually fit very will with HB 3314. Many of you might know that most people receiving a first felony will not go to prison. In these cases I hope and believe that 3314 could still be applied too. Also SB 1058 proposed to ramp up penalties even farther for people with suspended licenses. This is another area of the law that HB 3314 did not address and needs to be much stronger.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

pdxcommuter, post 12:

I think it would be a mistake to hammer Burdick about the fixed gear bill when we lobby for this bill. The idea is to get this bill passed, not to fight the fixed gear battle (or to complain about traffic cops, or the lack of an Idaho law, etc.).

Those battles may be worth fighting at the appropriate time and place, but right now, what we really need is this law passed this session.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Scott, Post 16:

Can you explain a bit more what the hurdles are in passing the bill this session?

Cbikes
Guest
Cbikes

In response to \”don\’t know squat\” (post #1) One of the officers handing out tickets was Officer Brett Barnum….

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

Logan (post #10)asked if it was realistic to think the bill would pass this session. I would have to say \”No.\” With the legislature set to adjourn on Friday, the chances of the bill getting passed by both houses are slim to none. Yet another reason to switch to a full-time legislature like the grown-up states. But at least it is a step in the right direction.

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

Rixtir (post 18), the biggest hurdle right now is the late date of the introduction. The committee process, including public hearings and work sessions, creates delay, especially with a bill like this which makes substantial changes to the law. There\’s just no way I can see of it getting through committee and to a floor vote in both houses before Friday.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

\”There’s just no way I can see of it getting through committee and to a floor vote in both houses before Friday.\”

Cecil,

I realize this is Prozanski\’s \”priority bill\”…but if it has no chance, why would they do it? For the symbolism? For brownie points?… or is this a way to start the PR for this type of bill to come up next session?

seems sort of pointless to launch a new bill with just a few days left in the session.

unless of course priority bills have some sort of fast track status.

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

My guess is that they are setting it up for the next session – kind of a \”running it up the flagpole and see if it flies\” sort of thing. By putting it out there now, while emotions on both sides are running high, they will be able to see what kind of reactions there will be and, in the next session, they will be able to tailor their approach, presentation and arguments to defeat any opposition. So it\’s not really pointless to bring it up now – instead, it gives them a year and a half to make it bullet-proof.

There are some types of legislation that can get passed between sessions through the Emergency Board or in special session, but those are almost always budgetary in nature. I don\’t think this would qualify.

G.A.R.
Guest
G.A.R.

Occasionally a bike will kill a pedestrian negligently. I think it would be fair if the proposed law included that circumstance. It looks like it includes killing someone with a kayak, so it seems fair to include bikes as well.

When motorists realize they\’re operating heavy equipment the world is a better place. I\’m not sure the best way to send that message is this one. This is good, but what might be more effective would be to add regulation and financial penalties. For example, people operating a vehicle weighing more than two tons (say) should be required to operate with a commercial license, and said license should require mandatory random drug testing. If you are caught driving without a license your driving is over for life. If you get in a wreck and the \”fault\” is 50/50 then the financial responsibility for the damage should be proportional to the weights of the vehicles. Etc. Making a felon out of a negligent driver is probably right, but it is a lose-lose. I don\’t think it will change behavior the way higher insurance rates and \”pee in the cup, please\” will.