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Assemblymember Ward Bill to Study Relationship Between Vehicle Size and Fatalities Passes First Committee

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Larger vehicles like SUVs are disproportionately likely to injure or kill pedestrians, according to a 2020 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway SafetyVehicles have been steadily increasing in size and weight since the 1980s, with some models now weighing several thousand pounds. Today, Assemblymember Ward’s AB 251 to request the California Transportation Commission to study the relationship between vehicle size and injuries to vulnerable road users passed out of the Transportation Committee.

“Our pedestrian fatality rate is higher than the national average, and no state has more pedestrian deaths on its roadways,” said Assemblymember Ward (D-San Diego). “We owe it to all Californians to look into the connection between these vehicles and fatalities, so we can create an environment where everyone, including drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, can all feel safe on our roadways.”

AB 251 will also study the impact of a registration fee based on the weight of vehicle, as well as whether higher fees would affect drivers’ behavior. In addition, it will look at how revenue generated from the fees could be used to improve safety features on roads for pedestrians and cyclists, including traffic-calming measures like speed bumps and protected bicycle lanes.

At least 13 states, including Florida, New York, Hawaii, North and South Dakota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Kansas, Arkansas, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey charge weight-based registration fees for vehicles, according to the National Conference of State LegislaturesAB 251 is supported by safety advocates as an important step towards improving pedestrian and cyclist safety.

“Study after study show that collisions between larger vehicles and pedestrians and people on bikes are more likely to result in serious injury and death,” said CalBike Policy Director Jared Sanchez. “The traffic violence caused by heavy vehicles on vulnerable road users needs greater attention by state policy.”