Would ‘strict liability’ help curb America’s distracted driving habit?

If marketing campaigns and PSAs don’t curb distracted driving and we lack the resources to enforce laws, how will we ever learn that driving a multi-ton vehicle on a road shared with people walking and biking is an extremely serious responsibility?

As we struggle to figure out why an “alarming” amount of people are being killed while walking on our roads here in Oregon, and we wish the best for a 23 month old in critical condition after being hit while being pushed across the street in a stroller in North Portland yesterday, I want to share the concept of “strict liability” that is current practice in the Netherlands.

Earlier today, a local activist shared a short video (published by IPayRoadTax.com, a UK campaign) about the concept .

The video features the voice of Hans Voerknecht, the International Coordinator for Netherlands-based Fietsberaad (you might remember Mr. Voerknecht from his Portland visit in October 2009).

Here’s the transcript from the video of Mr. Voerknecht explaining how their system works in the Netherlands (please excuse his English):

“When an accident happens in general the car driver is liable; and even when the car driver would say, ‘Yeah but the bicyclist made a very strange movement and I couldn’t do anything about it,’ then the judge would say, ‘Well, you could see the bicyclist and you know that this happens with bicyclists and you should reduce your speed in a situation where there are bicyclists, so still you are at fault‘.