Minnesota cyclists and friends should drop everything and contact their Minnesota legislators to support HF68 and SF201, proposed new Minnesota laws that would make killing someone as a result of careless driving a gross misdemeanor. Today, such behavior – generally summarized with a “I didn’t see that person!” defense – is a misdemeanor.
Another bill, HF123, makes killing someone while passing on the right a felony, and causing great bodily harm a gross misdemeanor.
A committee hearing on HF68 is currently scheduled for February 10. The Bicycle Alliance for Minnesota and Transit for Livable Communities are both scheduled to testify on behalf of the bill.
Contacting your legislators is pretty easy if you’ve never done it before. Here’s the process:
- Figure out who they are. The state web site makes it pretty easy.
- Write a brief message referencing the bill at hand (HF to your State Representative, SF to your State Senator).
- Be direct and tell them to support it, and why you think it important.
- Thank them for considering your position.
- Include your name and postal address/zip code, regardless of if you’re sending e-mail or a postal letter, as it helps establish your constituent cred.
- Send it off, either via e-mail or postal letter.
There are additional specific tips for making contact with your legislator available through the Minnesota Legislature web site.
These laws are fairly simple – essentially, they up the consequences for delivering life-altering injuries to cyclists or pedestrians through specific poor driving behaviors. While some might argue that the penalties don’t rise enough, it’s still a significant increase over current law. Change generally happens incrementally. These provide another incentive for paying attention to cyclists and sharing the road – and additional means for the law to remove chronically dangerous drivers from the road.
Go thou, and write your letters!