We have been working hard these past weeks to ensure the passage of HB 363--the criminal vehicular manslaughter bill--in the Maryland Senate. But we still have not swayed the opinion of Chairman Frosh, who controls the bill's fate.
Click here to see WABA's online explanations of HB 363.
We have generated dozens of calls and hundreds of emails to state senators, but we need to do more. After passing the House of Delegates unanimously, the bill was referred to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee charied by Senator Brian Frosh of District 16 in Montgomery County. Despite being a cyclist, Chairman Frosh has not supported this bill. And as Committee Chairman, he is the person with the power to unilaterally allow it to die without a full vote.
This bill is good for cyclists. It is good for pedestrians. And it is good for motorists. It is good for everyone who wants the roadways of Maryland to be safer. That is why so many groups, from AAA Mid-Atlantic to the Maryland Sheriffs Association to Environment Maryland and all area bicycle advocacy groups support the bill. It is sorely needed to fill a gap in Maryland law that has allowed motorists to kill, yet receive a mere traffic ticket. This is a tool that safety adovocates and law enforcement officials have been asking for: an appropriate criminal sanction for killing with a vehicle due to a substantial deviation from the duty to drive responsibly.
Last Tuesday, WABA and AAA held a joint press conference in Annapolis stating our shared view that this bill will make Maryland's roads safer for all who travel them. Click here to see coverage of the AAA-WABA press conference.
Senator Frosh has expressed concerns about the scope of the law. Those have been rebutted numerous places, including in an editorial in Sunday's Washington Post by WABA Executive Director Shane Farthing.
Over the weekend, WABA staff and volunteers were at Metro stations and other locations throughout Montgomery County speaking with area residents about their thoughts on the bill, and we heard overwhelming support from Senator Frosh's constituents.
And on Sunday, the Washington Post published an Op/Ed by WABA Executive Director Shane Farthing responding to and debunking each of the concerns raised by the Senator in his public comments.
Click here to read the Op/Ed from the Washington Post.
Still, Chariman Frosh has told Maryland advocates that he does not plan to let the HB 363 bill out of his committee. This will kill the bill, and leave Marylanders with another year in which vulnerable roadway users can be killed by irresponsible drivers and receive a mere traffic citation.
As a Maryland resident, please take a moment to call your state senator. At this very busy time in the legislative session, calls are far more effective than emails. As the session comes to an end offices may be especially busy, so it is fine to say that you are a constituent calling to express your support for HB 363, and that a return telephone call is not necessary.
It is particularly important that Senator Frosh hear from Marylanders. His office can be reached at 301.858.3124.
If you are not able to call, you can also email your senator.
Click here to send an email to your state senator!
We appreciate your continued support as we make this final push to improve the safety of all roadway users, including cyclists, throughout Maryland. If you would like to provide an additional contribution to assist WABA and our ongoing advocacy and education efforts on behalf of cyclists, you can do so here.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association