— Advertisement —

Who should be liable in a collision?

Well, in much of Europe, the vehicle type more likely to cause an injury is always assumed liable in an accident until proven otherwise. They call it “strict liability,” and the philosophy makes sense. After all, the more dangerous your vehicle is, the more responsibility you have to be careful. From Copenhagenize:

This is somewhat similar to the vulnerable users bill that failed to make it to a vote in the state legislature last year. Publicola reports that Joe Fitzgibbon has promised to reintroduce the bill if he is elected (ahem) in the 34th District.

— Advertisement —

But I like the way this concept of strict liability is explained because it makes more sense. Whenever the vulnerable users bill is discussed, people always say that it allows for stricter penalties when cars hit bikes or pedestrians. But it is hard to rally enthusiastic support behind something that creates harsher penalties for what many see as accidents.

This strict liability concept, however, challenges the mindset behind how we drive. It states right up front that those driving vehicles more likely to cause harm are required to drive with increased caution at all times, but especially when bicycles and pedestrians are present. It’s simple defensive driving, really. Just because the speed limit is 30 doesn’t mean you should always go 30. Take extra time to check for bikes an peds when making turns, particularly on heavily-used streets and paths. If you don’t and you hit someone, then yes, it is your fault. Even if you did not see them.

This concept also applies to bicycle-pedestrian collisions. Bikes, it is your responsibility to avoid pedestrians, even taking into account their unexpected movements. If you are on a mixed-use trail, for example, you would be expected to slow down when encountering pedestrians and be prepared to stop or otherwise avoid them if they move. It is your responsibility.

This system of road liability seems fair and easy to understand to me. The bigger you are, the more important it is that you drive with caution. Unless there is evidence that the more vulnerable user did something egregious, the bigger vehicle is assumed liable.

About the author:

Related posts:


One response to “Who should be liable in a collision?”

  1. Brad Hawkins

    AMEN BROTHER! AMEN!!!!!!!!!

    I especially love that we are responsible to not hit pedestrians. Amen to that too. We need more jaywalking in this world with drivers expecting it instead of just running people down.

— Advertisement —

Got a tip? Email Tom.

Get posts via email


Join the Seattle Bike Blog Supporters

Supporters receive endless love in addition to the satisfaction of knowing you helped power independent bike news in the Seattle area. Please consider supporting the site financially if you are able, starting at $5 per month:

Bike Events Calendar

6:00 pm Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board M…
Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board M…
Jun 7 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Monthly agendas can be found at: http://www.seattle.gov/seattle-bicycle-advisory-board/meetings/meeting-agendas The Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board (SBAB) advises the Mayor, City Council, and City Departments and Divisions on projects, policies, and programs that improve and/or affect bicycling conditions in[…]
7:15 pm Point83 @ Westlake Park
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Jun 8 @ 7:15 pm
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Meet up in the center of the park at 7ish. Leave at 730. Every Thursday from now until forever rain or shine. Bikes, beers, illegal firepits, nachos, bottlerockets, timetraveling, lollygagging, mechanicals, good times.
all-day The City of Bellevue presents th… @ Robinswood Community Park, North Entrance, 14915, SE 22nd St.
The City of Bellevue presents th… @ Robinswood Community Park, North Entrance, 14915, SE 22nd St.
Jun 10 all-day
The City of Bellevue presents the 10th Annual Lake to Lake Bike Ride June 10, 2023 Explore Bellevue’s hidden treasures by bike on the Lake to Lake Bike Ride on June 10, 2023, rain or[…]
9:00 am Find It-Fix It Ride with Ballard… @ Ballard Locks Parking lot
Find It-Fix It Ride with Ballard… @ Ballard Locks Parking lot
Jun 10 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
The sun is out in Seattle so it’s time to bring back the Find It, Fix It ride! We will be riding on June 10th, and the 10 mile route will take us through many of our ongoing projects[…]
10:00 am Friends on Bikes 2nd Saturday Ri…
Friends on Bikes 2nd Saturday Ri…
Jun 10 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Friends on Bikes2nd Saturday Ride Series– – – ✨🌸 SPRING HAS SPRUNG 🌸✨And we are ready to roll into the sunshine. Starting April 9th, join us every second Saturday, late mornings for no-drop, snack-forward, and friendly[…]
— Advertisements —

Latest on Mastodon

Loading Mastodon feed…

Latest on YouTube