The bills failed to meet the deadline to make it out of committee and to a floor vote, but stand an unlikey chance at being resurrected with a strike-everything bill later in the legislative session.
“A House committee has pushed through a bill that makes the fine for speeding up to 10 miles over the speed limit – get this – just $15, whereas distracted driving and the consequences for such remain to be a slap in the face to the victims and the families who are left behind to pick up the pieces,” said Brendan Lyons, a Tucson cyclist and firefighter who was hit by a car while riding his bike in 2013.
Lyons, 30, has been advocating for cyclist safety bills for the past two years after his crash, in which he and his now fiancee suffered serious injuries.
One bill, SB 1102, a texting-while-driving ban, gained some traction after the Senate government committee approved it earlier this month. Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, has been proposing the bill every year since 2007 without success. Arizona and Montana are the only states without some version of a texting-while-driving ban.
SB 1302, the vulnerable users bill, assigned to both the Senate’s transportation and public safety committees also died when it wasn’t amended to be included in an omnibus dealing with the Arizona Department of Transportation, Farley wrote on his Facebook page. The bill forbids harassment of cyclists and other vulnerable users of roadways, a common issue, Farley has said.
Senate president Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, argued that law enforcement is already enforcing distracted driving using speeding laws, according to an azcentral.com article.
“We have laws on the books that work,” Biggs is quoted as saying. He cited that DPS officers have made 19,000 stops of drivers for distracted driving.
Lyons scoffed at Biggs’ reasoning.
“Apparently Senate president Andy Biggs believes that the current laws on the books have drastically cut down on driving distracted,” Lyons said. “I would love to be utilizing whichever public roads he uses to justify this statement.”
Farley mentioned his disbelief in a Facebook post Tuesday and pointed out the vulnerable users bill was an unmentioned casualty.
“Lost in the Senate surrealism yesterday was another disappointment,” Farley wrote. “This bill developed in a bipartisan stakeholder group over two years, SB 1302, was not heard in committees but would protect bicyclists, pedestrians, construction workers, law enforcement and others who find themselves at the mercy of motor vehicles while adjacent to a roadway. We have had too many pedestrian and bicyclist injuries or deaths, and we need legal protections.”