In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed two new momentous bills creating safer streets for the people of California. The first, A.B. 902, permits local municipalities to enact programs for bicyclists ticketed for certain infractions. The second, A.B. 8, allows law enforcement agencies to issue a public alert if a person has been killed or severely injured in a hit-and-run collision. Both bills will take effect on January 1, 2016. So let’s take a closer look at how each can improve mobility for Californians…
A.B. 902, the traffic ticket diversion program, helps turn a ticket into a learning opportunity by providing an opportunity for people on bicycles to attend a bicycling class to reduce their fine. This change in the way we normally conduct traffic enforcement can result in reduced fines for committing moving violations, a more educated public, and over all safer streets, a real a win-win-win! It is important to note that the passage of A.B. 902 does not automatically institute programs statewide, but removes barriers that previously prevented cities and counties from initiating such an option for people ticketed while on a bicycle. It is still necessary for members of the public to work with their local officials to ensure such a bicycle ticket diversion program is implemented.
A.B. 8, also known as the “Yellow Alert” system was proposed to combat the heavy toll of statewide hit-and-runs. Similar to the Amber Alert system, which alerts drivers of a missing child through freeway message board signs and text messages, Yellow Alerts are intended to garner the public’s help to find fleeing drivers of hit-and-runs crimes. Alerts will be issued only when local law enforcement has a sufficient description of the identity of the suspects and their vehicles. The alerts will be activated in specific geographic areas, presumably near the scene of a collision. In addition to freeway signs, alerts may be heard on television or on the radio.
Yellow Alerts are not new to California. In 2012, the City of Denver instituted a similar system, as a result of which they experiences a 76% arrest rate in cases where the alert was utilized. The success of the program ensued in a statewide program throughout Colorado. Similar to Denver, the City of Los Angeles has been one step ahead of the state. In February 2015, City officials announced a hit-and-run alert system that would publish information on social media about cars and drivers linked to fatal and other sever hit-and-runs.
This is a big win for Southern California! Aside from the obvious safety and social benefits, we are prideful that both bills were introduced by LA County representatives including Assemblymember Richard Bloom, representing Santa Monica (traffic diversion program) and Assemblymember Mike Gatto, representing Glendale (hit-and-run bill). You can hear more from Assemblymember Gatto himself about A.B. 8 in his interview with Streetsblog.