You Can Report Bad or Hostile Drivers

 You don’t have to let careless or belligerent drivers get away with it.  For years the Department of Motor Vehicles has had a program to get bad drivers off the road. Click on this form to open a PDF you can fill out to start the process.

Driver Complaint - thumbIntended primarily to report elderly, blind, or impaired drivers whose conditions have deteriorated to the point they may be a threat to others, this procedure causes the DMV contact the individual to prove they still qualify to be licensed to drive. Increasingly now, bicyclists are using this process to turn in hostile drivers, those who buzz-pass in violation of the 3-Foot Passing law, or make dangerous “right hook” or “left cross” turns which put them in jeopardy.

Rude, careless, and hostile often equals assault. Bicyclists are fully franchised users of the road. Motorists must respect your space, pass only when safe to do so, and at least show you the same courtesy they do other motorists.

Polite honks are one thing; long, drawn out horn use delivered at the last second or while sitting on your wheel is another. It’s pure intimidation, a threat delivered from a 4,000 lb. vehicle– it qualifies as “assault with a deadly weapon.”

The DMV Driver Reevaluation form covers that.

But will it get results? Lawyers familiar with the DMV’s process say it will, eventually. A driver properly identified on the form will be contacted and informed their behavior on the road warrants an interview. The process is as anonymous as the DMV can keep it– your identity should not be revealed but the nature of your complaint will be.

“Acts violent or aggressive while driving,” “Fails to react to traffic signals, other cars, or pedestrians, etc.,”  “Turns in front of other cars [or bicycles].” When you check these boxes and add additional comments on the form you should get a DMV officer’s attention.

And multiple complaints filed on the same driver will have real impact.

The driver’s name is not essential. Contrary to the asterisk on the form, a complete license plate number and vehicle description can trigger the review process. If you post video evidence of hostile or reckless behavior on line, be sure to include a link on the form. That’s another reason to pack a GoPro or Fly6 camera.

The California Association of Bicycle Organizations and committees within Caltrans are examining the form and reporting process to make it more responsive to pedestrians and bicyclists. We’ll update this column as news becomes available.

Only Justice Will Help Save Lives

Stacy Kline, OCBC Board Member, was riding a few miles behind Matthew O’Neill when he was killed on Foxen Canyon Rd. The motorist, the 16 year old son of former Lt. Governor, Abel Maldonado,  failed to yield when overtaking Matthew on an open stretch of  a quiet, rural highway. Immediately following Matthew’s death, a campaign was started to explain to motorists why they should change lanes when passing a cyclist, and to amend the “Three Feet for Safety Act” to allow motorists to cross a solid yellow center line to pass a cyclist.

MatthewsChange.org

Stacy wrote this piece encouraging concerned citizens to submit Victim Witness Statements on Matthew’s behalf.

The preliminary hearing for the motorist who killed Matthew was held this past Friday. The case is in juvenile court which has different procedures than an adult criminal proceeding. On their way home to San Diego after the hearing, I spoke with Matthew’s parents about the case, and they mentioned that the court is now accepting Victim Impact Statements.

At this stage in the case, the Probation Department is charged with recommending formal or informal probation. The family and friends of Matthew feel that it is important that the defendant be given formal probation. For a charge of this magnitude, vehicular manslaughter, formal probation is the only option that will help bring closure to the family and friends of Matthew O’Neill. While informal probation is akin to a “slap on the wrist” and may simply give a message that says “don’t do it again,” formal probation is a structured program requiring regular contact with a probation officer and monitored activities such as community service which could include speaking to other young people about the serious consequences of poor judgement while driving. Without formal probation, it may be difficult to get the defendant arraigned (formally charged).

The O’Neill family strongly believes that Matthew’s death must have meaning beyond the loss of a beloved son, brother, fiancé, and friend. A ruling of delinquency in this case will send the message that killing a bicyclist carries a serious consequence. A ruling of delinquency in this case will set a precedent that more serious charges are warranted when a cyclist is killed due to the fault of a motorist. A ruling of delinquency in this case can serve as a deterrent to motorists who will think then think about the consequences of their actions before they pass a cyclist on the road.

To help the O’Neill family, it is important that the probation department receive as many Victim Impact Statements as possible, and as soon as possible, describing the impact Matthew O’Neill had on the lives of others. Letters are needed that describe Matthew’s cycling passion, concern for the success of other cyclists, contributions to the randonneuring community, continued quest for knowledge, love of lifelong learning, advocacy for those who could not advocate for themselves, and, above all, Matthew’s commitment to live life in the service of others.

Please email your letters to Terri Zuniga, the supervisor of the Victim Witness Program. Terri will deliver the emails to the probation department on Matthew’s behalf.

Terri Zuniga
Victim Witness Program Supervisor
tzuniga (at) co.santa-barbara.ca.usThis is the first step in changing the narrative about what it means to be a motorist. Real enforcement and meaningful penalties can make a real difference in making the roads safer for all road users, especially the most vulnerable, reflecting the essence of Matthew’s life work.
Best regards,
Stacy

Silence in Laguna

From Les Miklosy, Laguna Streets:

It has been 3 months since John Colvin’s fatal-hit-and-run in Emerald Bay. In an email from his wife Joan I’ve learned she still has no accident report from the LBPD.

Following three separate motorcades, last month the LBPD reminded us again of our dedication to the sculpture memorial “Eternal Legacy” for fallen motor officer Jon Coutchie.

The city commission for the “Eternal Legacy” memorial art is $75,000. The total spent on LB safe cycling infrastructure from 2008 to present (6 years) is $5000 plus the Sharrow symbols on Glenneyre (about $250 each)

A search for ‘John Colvin’ gets 6 hits, a search for ‘Jon Coutchie’ gets 25 hits at the on-line newspaper Laguna Beach Independent.

Remember these events  when you ride your bicycle in Laguna Beach.

Another cover-up is almost complete,  residents will forget, all’s well in the feifdom.

— Les

We asked Les if there was any more information about the driver who killed John Colvin. He replied:

We don’t know who the kid is except by a newspaper account, 19yo. I learned separately the car has a Emerald Cove sticker on it- that’s a gated community within a gated community. The kid likely lives there.

The cops remain tight-lipped. The investigating officer is Sargent Louise Callus LBPD.

Joan is in NYC, her message was short, her meaning was “don’t call us we’ll call you” so I’ll not press her for details.

When we know more, we’ll post it here.

Safe Holiday Wishes on PCH

According to AAA, more than 43.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles from home or farther during this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. About 90 percent of those travelers–39 million people–plan to travel by automobile.

In a related note, Doug  Irving of the OC Register reports on results of a study that found more drugged than drunk drivers on California roadways like the drivers that killed Donald Murphy and Candace Tift; killed while riding their bikes in Newport by drivers impaired by prescription drugs.

In the most medicated nation on the planet, this study should really come as no surprise, but it’s encouraging to see the recognition, and quantification of the issue.

When drugged drivers are combined with poor road design, construction zones, lax local enforcement, and lenient courts, it is people riding their bikes on the same roadways that pay the highest price.

One such roadway is the Pacific Coast Highway which also goes by various other names depending which city or county it happens to pass through. Sadly bikes riders are typically an afterthought in the consideration of construction, road maintenance, or even public transportation along this roadway.

To illustrate; in Huntington Beach a short section of the northbound roadway’s shoulder was closed to accomplish the construction of a guardrail which forces riders into the high speed traffic lane. After the work was completed, the obstructions remain without making allowances for safe cycle travel between the k-rail and guardrail.

In Seal Beach; a public transit bus parks in the bike lane causing risky merges and poor sight lines for bike riders and drivers alike.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the k-rails on PCH will be removed this coming Sunday morning, a week ahead of when Caltrans emphatically said they wouldn’t be removed until 12/1. While we also requested the a temporary path for safe travel through the construction zone, at this time we don’t know if the maintenance crew was able to get that done. Your report is welcomed!

With the holiday traffic and condition of drivers as noted above, please exercise greater care when traveling this roadway, especially through Newport Beach as seen below:

Pacific Coast Highway Injuries

Pacific Coast Highway Injuries

We’ll have an update on the Seal Beach bus parking issue when we receive an update from the responsible agency.

Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday weekend!

Safety never sleeps.