Washington’s Vulnerable User Law Is a Joke

A man walking his dog is hit and killed in a Kirkland crosswalk. The driver who hit him isn’t charged with violating Washington’s Vulnerable User Law, RCW 46.61.525, which punishes – merely as a misdemeanor – drivers who fuck up while driving in a way that endangers life or property.

The prosecutors’ excuse? The driver didn’t see the man in the crosswalk.

Listen, morons – if you thought she saw him, you’d be charging her with murder. This is about people driving a deadly implement around without taking proper care.

Here are a few more salient facts, courtesy of The View From the Crosswalk:

  • The driver hit the pedestrian – who was in the crosswalk – while making a left turn at a three-way T-stop.
  • Despite starting from a dead stop at the intersection, she hit him hard enough to kill him – while driving a fucking Prius.
  • OK, not a fact, but something we all know from driving: if you make a turn, from a standing start, and are going fast enough to hit someone and kill them before you’ve traveled 100 feet, you’re fucking flooring it. Especially in a Prius.

That’s about as egregious a set of circumstances as you can get for hitting someone in a crosswalk. This isn’t a tragic situation where one car is stopped for a pedestrian at a mid-block crosswalk with two lanes, or a left-turning truck on a one-way street with a bike lane on the left. It’s an impatient driver gunning it through an intersection, not paying enough attention, and taking someone’s life.

And yet it’s still not enough for the Vulnerable User Law to come into play.

I’m not a big fan of having too many laws of any kind. But if we’re going to try to have safer roads by punishing drivers with strict liability for having too high of a blood alcohol content, we sure as hell can have laws that punish drivers for running over pedestrians in the fucking crosswalk.

 

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