Klippert bill would add bicycle, pedestrian safety segment to traffic schools

State lawmakers are considering legislation that would require traffic schools to include as part of their curriculum a 30-minute segment on safe driving among bicyclists and pedestrians. Eighth District Rep. Brad Klippert is the prime sponsor of the proposal (House Bill 1129), which had its first public hearing Thursday in the House Transportation Committee.

Developed by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and approved by the state Department of Licensing, the curriculum has been used in driver-education classes for the past three years. Under Klippert's bill, the same program would be included in traffic schools, which many cities and counties offer to motorists who receive citations for traffic-related offenses as a condition of deferral, sentence or penalty.

Klippert introduced a similar bill (HB 3001) in the 2010 session. That measure passed the House unanimously, but stalled in the Senate.

In his remarks to the committee, Klippert said adding the curriculum to traffic schools is a commonsense way to educate errant motorists about the responsibilities of sharing the road. And, he noted, the Bicycle Alliance would provide the materials to the driver-improvement programs at no charge.

“This is a cost-free opportunity to broaden the reach of a program that we know can help decrease injuries among pedestrians and cyclists, and increase awareness that safety cannot be taken for granted,” said Klippert, an 11-year veteran of the Benton County Sheriff's Office.

Among those testifying in support of the bill was Kay Olson, a registered nurse and Community Health Nursing instructor at WSU-Tri-Cities.

“Nationally, 70,000 people are injured every year in pedestrian-vehicle accidents, and 4,300 people lose their lives. That equates to an injury every eight minutes, and a death every two hours,” she told the committee. “Fault in the accidents is split pretty evenly between pedestrians and drivers. But if people behind the wheel are at fault 50 percent of the time, this bill provides a great tool to better educate drivers about bicycle and pedestrian safety.”

“This is an opportunity for us, through the Legislature, to help reduce fatalities and injuries across Washington, without any negative fiscal impact to the state,” Klippert concluded.

For more information, contact: Bill Taylor, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7074

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov