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September 4, 2017

Highlighting why we need to pass the proposed "Driving in the Rain" criminal law in Oliwood

As you may know, the great state of Oliwood borders Ohio, and the headline of this weekend article from an Ohio newspaper provides a reminder for why proposed "Driving in the Rain" legislation seems so important for community protection and safety: "Saturday rain caused several crashes, highway closures."  Here is the article's lead: "Columbus-areas highways were shut down at least four times on Saturday by crashes on rain-soaked roads that frustrated drivers and clogged traffic until mid-afternoon."

Of course, this Ohio article about the local impact of harmful and costly driving during rainy conditions is hardly a surprise given well-known data on the extent of the rain-driving problem.  As explained in this government website drawing on a decade of crash data (with emphasis added):

On average, nearly 6,000 people are killed and over 445,000 people are injured in weather-related crashes each year.  The vast majority of most weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall: 73% on wet pavement and 46% during rainfall. A much smaller percentage of weather-related crashes occur during winter conditions: 17% during snow or sleet, 13% occur on icy pavement and 14% of weather-related crashes take place on snowy or slushy pavement. Only 3% happen in the presence of fog.

In other words, nearly 1000 people in the US are injured every single day thanks to folks crashing while driving in the rain.  And, as this government paper states not only that "wet weather is far more dangerous than winter weather," but also that "weather-related crashes cause between 94 million and 272 million hours of delay each year [with the] annual cost of weather-related crashes estimated to be between $22 billion and $51 billion."

Of course, any proposed driving-in-the-rain criminal law will not prevent all or even most weather-related crashes (just like existing drunk-driving and texting-while-driving criminal laws do not prevent all other dangerous-driving crashes).  But if a proposed new criminal law can reduce the number of weather-related crashes by even just 10%, that could save dozens of innocent lives, reduce by hundreds the number of Oliwood citizens injured on the roadways, and save millions of dollars each and every year.

The simple proposed draft text for a "Driving in the Rain" criminal liability statute appears below, and it is important to note that it does not call for punishing people for driving in the rain, but really only for crashing in the rain.  I look forward to hearing whether and why Oliwood legislators support or oppose this use of the criminal law in our great state.

PROPOSED OPC Section 55.55: Criminal Damaging While Driving in the Rain:  No person shall cause any physical harm to any other person or to the property of another while driving in the rain.  Punishment for a violation of this section shall depend upon the amount of harm caused and other relevant factors in the discretion of the sentencing judge.

September 4, 2017 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink

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