Traffic-related pedestrian deaths are trending up again in Arizona. In a state already known to have the most red-light crashes resulting in fatalities, it’s time to put some real teeth in the law and hold drivers accountable for moving violations resulting in serious injury or death to another person.
Now, we have that chance. HB2419 is moving through the Arizona House with some steam and would make it a felony, subject to a fine of at least $5,000 and 180 days of house arrest, if a moving violation results in the death of a pedestrian, motorcycle operator or bicyclist. If a driver commits a moving violation that results in serious physical injury to a pedestrian, motorcyclist or bicyclist, they will face a felony conviction, a fine of $1,500 and 30 days of house arrest.
This would be a significant change in the law, which currently suspends a person’s license for up to 180 days if the moving violation results in serious injury and up to a year if the violation results in death. Such a conviction is a misdemeanor and if the violator causes a death, they must attend traffic survival school.
Of course, these traffic violations and penalties have nothing to do with civil actions that could result from serious injuries or death caused in connection with a moving violation. But let’s face it, most people don’t think about the civil consequences they could face if they get in an accident. That’s what insurance is for, right? – a topic for another day. Many people are more concerned about their liberty being taken away. Bravo Rep. Matt Gress, an Arizona Republican legislator willing to take a risk by sponsoring HB2419 because he values the safety of his constituents and all those living in and visiting Arizona.
As a personal injury attorney practicing in Arizona and all around the country, I have seen how the lives of families are devastated and forever changed by drivers who do not follow our traffic laws. I’m not naïve enough to believe that there is a magic wand that will make our roads safer, but this change in the law could go a long way.
Marc Lamber is a Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent-rated trial attorney. A director at Fennemore, Lamber has been featured in national and local media, including The Arizona Republic and other local media, USA Today, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the ABA Journal and many others.