OLYMPIA -- A bill requiring more driver education about sharing the road with bicycles and pedestrians is on its way to Gov. Chris Gregoire after the state Senate approved it 46-1 Wednesday.
House Bill 1129 is Rep. Brad Klippert's second attempt to require traffic safety refresher courses for drivers who have received tickets. It mandates a 30-minute segment on bicycle and pedestrian safety.
Klippert, R-Kennewick, introduced a similar bill in 2010, but it stalled in the Senate after passing the House.
This time, the bill unanimously passed the House on Feb. 7 and cleared the Senate with only Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, opposing it.
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"We have many, many people across Washington state injured each year either while riding bicycles or as pedestrians," said Klippert, who also is a Benton County Sheriff's deputy. "We want to make those bicyclists and pedestrians safe and reduce accidents on our roads."
The law allows drivers to defer one moving and one non-moving traffic violation every seven years and gives courts the option to send those drivers to a driver improvement or traffic safety school as a condition of deferral.
Once the course is completed and if the person doesn't commit another violation, the ticket can be dismissed.
Pasco Municipal Court, Franklin County District Court and Benton County District Court do not use traffic school as a sentencing option.
Klippert's bill would add the same bicycle and pedestrian safety course already taken by new drivers as part of driver training to the curriculum for those wanting to defer a ticket.
The requirement imposes no cost on the state because the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, a nonprofit that in part advocates for bike safety laws, provides the curriculum.
Klippert said he was pleased to see the bill pass with such strong bipartisan support.
"Isn't that a good thing?" he asked. "Doesn't that show you this is some great legislation that helps protect citizens without any charge to the taxpayer?"
If Gregoire signs the bill, the new requirement will go into effect 90 days after the legislative session adjourns. The session is set to close April 24.