To the Chairman and members of the Senate Transportation Committee of the 2014 Virginia General Assembly:
The Virginia Bicycling Federation respectfully offers the following points for the consideration of the Senators serving on the Senate Transportation Committee with respect to HB 82, known as the “Following Too Closely Bill”
1. This is a simple bill. One word would be removed from the existing § 46.2-816. The statute, as amended, would then be consistent with the Uniform Vehicle Code, which provides, in part:
Uniform Vehicle Code § 11-310— Following too closely
(a) The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.
2. Virginia is the only state that explicitly declines to protect all legal users of the roadway from unreasonable and imprudent motorists. 48 states follow the UVC language, and Alabama has vague language, i.e. “driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow … ‘another’ more closely than is reasonable and prudent….” Alabama’s statute then uses “vehicle” elsewhere in the statute – which may be interpreted as meaning that the “another” refers to “another vehicle.”
3. Without this amendment, §46.2-816 is in direct conflict with §46.2-800 which grants the operator of a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, moped, or an animal or driving an animal on a highway the same rights and duties of a driver of a motor vehicle.
4. There is no reason to believe that the proposed revised statute would be any more difficult to enforce than the current statute, which is routinely enforced against drivers who rear-end other drivers. The Virginia State Police have testified, through their representative Danny Glick, that the enforcement of the revised statute would not pose any particular problem.
5. The Senate Transportation Committee has voted overwhelmingly in favor of previous versions of this bill in 2011 (15 -0) and 2012 (14-0) by many of the same committee members now serving. In the Senate, the bill was approved by margins of 40-0 in 2011 and 28-12 in 2012.
6. According to http://novasmartcycling.blogspot.com, the City of Virginia Beach requested this legislation in its Requested Code of Virginia Changes for 2010 and 2011.
For the foregoing reasons, on behalf of Virginia’s cyclists and others who choose not to, or cannot, operate motor vehicles, we, the Virginia Bicycling Federation, respectfully ask you, our elected representatives, to correct this glaring inconsistency within the Virginia Motor Vehicle Code. There is, quite simply, no rational basis for failing to pass this bill.