Plan a Safe Route to School: Focus on Five to the Reduce Number of Wrongful Deaths

wrongful death attorney

Your child has a right to attend a safe, secure, and peaceful school environment and all reasonable steps are to be taken by the school district to protect its students (Ed. Code § 48200), but what about the route getting to and from school?  How do you protect your child from a catastrophic injury or worse – wrongful death – on their school route?  The number of fatalities to pedestrians and cyclists in San Francisco are decreasing each year since 2013, but it’s still too high (even one is too many and we support Vision Zero for San Francisco).  In 2017, 14 pedestrians, 4 motorcyclists, and 2 bicyclists were killed in vehicle collisions.  Pedestrians have continued to be the largest group for wrongful deaths due to vehicle collisions in San Francisco since at least 2010.  We want to help you with information about how to protect your child from a catastrophic injury when they are on their way to a safe place, to prevent you from needing a wrongful death attorney.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Sustainable Streets Division has created their list of the “Focus on the Five” for traffic enforcement officials to look at.  These five conditions result in the most injuries for pedestrians and cyclists.  To help your child be prepared for a safe walk to ride to school talk to them about these five conditions and what to look out for at intersections to prevent a catastrophic injury:

Focus on Five to the Reduce the Number of Wrongful Deaths:

  • Unsafe Speed
  • Failure to Yield to Pedestrians
  • Violation of Traffic Signal
  • Failure to Yield for Left/U-Turn
  • Failure to Stop at Stop Sign

Pedestrians in California have the right-of-way in many circumstances and drivers should yield to them, but it is important for children to understand the difference between “should” and “will.”  The same is true for stopping at Stop signs or even stopping completely and looking both ways for pedestrians at a crosswalk.  To protect your children on their route to school and keep them from the frightening statistics of wrongful deaths in San Francisco, take the time to walk with them often and help them understand these differences about drivers, especially when children may eventually be walking to school without a taller (more easily visible) adult.  If crosswalk flags are available on their route, they may be used as an added visibility tool, but they do not compensate for understanding the need for children to wait to be seen by the driver before stepping out away from the curb.  The majority of pedestrian wrongful deaths over the years in San Francisco were found to be in crosswalks by the SFMTA.

Plan the Route Carefully Away from Top 13% Streets:

Anyone who has reviewed Vision Zero before might already know about the dangerous areas to walk and ride.  The greater majority of catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths occur on a very small percentage of San Francisco’s streets: just 13% of the streets and intersections make up about 75% of the fatalities and major injuries.  These are often considered to be the “High Injury Corridors” of San Francisco.  There is an updated and interactive map available from City and County of San Francisco here.  Take time to review this map and look to see if your child’s route passes through an area known to be dangerous.  If one or more wrongful deaths have occurred at an intersection your child plans to pass through daily, consider changing their planned path and discussing with them the need for the new route so that they do not divert from the new plan.  If you are not currently looking at the map, 5th Street and Market Street has been at the top of the list for pedestrian and bicyclist collisions for several years.

safe routes to school in san francisco

(San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Sustainable Streets Division: San Francisco 2012-2015 Collisions Report, 2016)


Local Resources Are Available for Your Child’s Safety

Your school may provide crossing guards at specific intersections.  The school district’s liability is with the school’s grounds, but the school may have additional resources to offer to you.

Walk San Francisco provides annual safe route events to help children learn about planning and executing safe routes to school.  They also welcome your emails.  Rahman Law PC principal and founder, Shaana Rahman, is on the Board of Walk San Francisco, so don’t be surprised if you see her at one of Walk San Francisco’s events!  Learn more about Walk San Francisco’s programs for planning a safe route to school here:  Their next Walk & Roll to School Day will be Wednesday, October 10th, 2018.

If you are closer to our Paso Robles office, talk to Kidical Mass with Bike SLO County:  Rahman Law PC sponsors Bike SLO County and some of the Kidical Mass events.  There are no events currently scheduled.


A Wrongful Death Can Happen – Call Us

No one ever wants to think about losing their child.  In 2016, only 1 child was lost as a pedestrian fatality in San Francisco, but in California, the average is about 29% of children under 14 killed in a traffic collision are pedestrians which is actually higher than the overall average of 21% of total traffic collision deaths being pedestrians (CDPH Traffic Safety Reports: Pedestrian Injuries in California 2007-2013, June 2017).  Keep talking to your children.  If you or someone you know is injured as a pedestrian or bicyclist in a vehicle collision, call us.  You are welcome to speak with one of our wrongful death attorneys or pedestrian and bicycle accident attorneys.  Consultation are free.


5 Rules Every Parent Should Know Before Letting Your Child Ride Their Bike in San Francisco

San Francisco bicycle accident attorneySchool is back in session and just like you, your child is a commuter.  You may drive your child to school and give them a quick tuck-and-roll drop-off, or they may ride the bus, but some still pedal their way among the throngs of cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists.  Or, you may have children who only cycle at home afterschool and on weekends.  In either case, we wanted to share with you 5 rules every parent should know when letting their child ride their bike in San Francisco.  Children under 14 accounted for 37% of all fatal bicycle accidents in 2015 and San Francisco is still in the top 13 cities in the entire United States for bicycle fatalities with motor vehicle collisions.  It is important for parents to be vigilant.

1: Urban Cycling Ends at 6:00pm

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis looks hard at fatal bicycle accidents and tries to find patterns.  One that they have found to be consistently true is the spike in bicycle accidents resulting in fatalities between 6:00pm and 9:00pm during any season. If your child has extracurricular activities keeping them out, make sure they are home with their bicycle before 6:00pm.  If they have come home and gone out for a ride, the same rule applies.

2: Ride with Traffic

Ride in the same direction as traffic in the bike lane.  Use the travel lane (the vehicle lane) when needed to avoid obstacles and always signal your actions with your hands to tell the drivers and other cyclists what you are doing.  Children under the age of 13 may ride on the sidewalk in San Francisco (CVC 21560, San Francisco Transportation Code Sec. 7.2.12).

3: Always Wear an Approved Helmet

Cyclists and passengers under the age of 18 must wear an approved helmet.  Parents – set a good example, be safe, and wear one, too!  Also be sure the helmet is properly fitted.  Many children will wear their helmet too far back away from the brow.  In addition to a helmet, adding extra reflective gear is beneficial.  Elastic straps that go around the ankles with hook-and-eye closures can catch headlights and give extra visibility.

4: No Surround Sound

Headphones may not be in/cover both ears (CVC 27400).  Many children like to listen to music while commuting, but they may not have both ears covered while operating a bicycle.  A hands-free device is permitted in one ear, but this may cause further distractions if a child tries to answer a phone call while navigating an urban area.

5: Obey the Lights and Signs

Children who have not yet learned to drive often don’t know to stop or yield in the right locations for signs and crosswalks which can potentially lead to bicycle accidents or collisions.  When on a bike, operators must obey the same rules as a car, which means they must stop at a stop sign and wait their turn.  If your child is commuting on their bicycle, consider riding their route with them a few times to help explain the lights and signs to them.  DMV booklets contain road rules and can be picked up free of charge.

Talk to Your Child to Prevent a Bicycle Accident

These are 5 rules we think every parent should know before letting their child ride their bike in San Francisco.  In California, the law regarding riding on the sidewalk varies from city to city, but the other rules are beneficial for adults who ride and parents with children who ride throughout California.  As bicycle accident attorneys in San Francisco with a second office in Paso Robles, we talk to a lot of parents with concerns after an accident or a close-call who are looking for what they can do to prevent a bicycle accident.  In the urban landscape of San Francisco, children need extra help learning about bicycle safety and constant reminders to ride safe.  We hope these 5 rules will help you talk to your child about bicycle safety.

If you would like more information about the rules in California, you may download our Ride Safe Reference Guide here.  It has these and other rules of the road for bicycle safety in California.  And if you would like to talk to one of our bicycle accident attorneys in San Francisco or Paso Robles, contact us for a free consultation today!

Resources for Parents about Bicycling with Kids:

Kidical Mass

Safe Routes to School

Walk & Roll to School Day

Personal Injury Lawyer Tips Regarding Liability in Student-on-Student Assaults

best-personal-injury-attorney-student-assaultBack-to-School is a busy season for students and parents, but after the initial excitement starts to settle sometimes the tension boils over between students and we unfortunately begin to see the rise in physical and sexual assaults of students by other students while at school.  We all want what is best for the children in our care and physical and sexual assaults should never be tolerated.  When something more than pride is damaged, the assaulter, his/her parents, and the supervising teachers, school officials, school employees, and even the school district may be responsible.  It is necessary to evaluate the situation which is why it is best to speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

One of our most popular blog articles has been one about school district liability and student assaults.

Here are some tips and more details regarding liability in student-on-student assaults to help parents and guardians better understand the severity of the situation or to be more informed should something happen in the future:


Your child has an inalienable right to attend a safe, secure, and peaceful school environment.

A relationship has been established when a parent sends their child to school and the school district oversees all reasonable steps to protect its students.  (Ed. Code § 48200)

Are the premises secure?  In large school campuses there may be dangerous areas away from visibility of faculty and staff where a student may be sexually assaulted or injured.  This may be a dangerous condition of public property.

The following excerpt has been taken from Shaana Rahman’s publication in Plaintiff Magazine, “Establishing School District Liability in Student-On-Student Assaults,” 2010:

Government Code section 840.2 provides that “[a]n employee of a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of public property if the plaintiff establishes that the property of the public entity was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonable foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred, and that either: (a) [t]he dangerous condition was directly attributable wholly or in substantial part to a negligent or wrongful act of the employee and the employee had the authority and the funds and other means immediately available to take alternative action which would not have created the dangerous condition; or (b) [t]he employee had the authority and it was his responsibility to take adequate measures to protect against the dangerous condition at the expense of the public entity and the funds and other means for doing so were immediately available to him, and he had actual or construction notice of the dangerous condition under Section 840.04 a sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.” (Gov. Code § 840.2.)


Your child will be supervised on campus in California.

“Every teacher in the public schools shall hold pupils to a strict account for their conduct on the way to and from school, on the playgrounds, or during recess.” (Ed. Code § 44807)

The following excerpt has been taken from Shaana Rahman’s publication in Plaintiff Magazine, “Establishing School District Liability in Student-On-Student Assaults,” 2010:

Pursuant to Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, §5551 a principal is responsible for the supervision and administration of his/her school. Also, section 5552 provides, “[w]here playground supervision is not otherwise provided, the principal of each school shall provide for the supervision by certificated employees of the conduct and safety . . . of the pupils of the school who are on the school grounds during recess and other intermissions.” As many incidents occur during recess periods, this statute is particularly useful in establishing the parameters of the liability. The purpose of the foregoing laws is to regulate students’ conduct “so as to prevent disorderly and dangerous practices which are likely to result in physical injury to immature scholars.”


The school has a duty to inform you, the parent or guardian.

Failure to inform the parent/guardian can become compelling evidence of a failure to supervise when the school district claims they failed to inform on the grounds that they themselves did not know of the event(s).  In many cases, this liability gives rise to an independent cause of action and is best handled by a personal injury lawyer for damages to the parent who may now no longer feel safe leaving their child in the hands of any other school or person for fear of their safety.


What to ask for

If you have concerns about an incident (or potential incident) at your child’s school, public record act requests have made it possible for you to access the information that will answer many of your questions.  Additionally, you should know that consultations with a personal injury lawyer at RAHMAN LAW PC are free and confidential.  Here are a few resources to ask for that may cover your concerns:

  • School policies on acceptable/unacceptable behavior between students
  • School employee safety training protocols
  • School training manuals/handbooks (which may outline the first two items)
  • Administrative regulations for the city/county (usually covers student safety)
  • Sexual Harassment or “Touching” policy
  • Disciplinary policies
  • Child abuse prevention training and policies


At RAHMAN LAW PC, we handle a variety of personal injury cases, but even the best personal injury lawyer in California may not have experience in student liability, which is why the best thing for any parent or guardian to do is start with a free and confidential consultation.  We believe in taking the time to listen to our clients and we know when a child is involved the case is going to be emotional for you.  Contact us today and find out for yourself why we have 10/10 ratings and founder Shaana Rahman was selected as the Best of San Francisco Magazine’s Top Women Attorneys in Northern California. 


Share the Road this May: National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month 2017

national motorcycle safety awareness month 2017

In 2014 (the most recent year with published statistics by the California Office of Traffic Safety as of May, 2017), San Francisco County has some serious motorcycle safety awareness statistics:

379 motorcyclists killed or injured in a collision

This puts San Francisco County at 1 of 58 for the OTS ranking which is how cities measure-up to other cities of similar populations.

At Rahman Law PC, we also have an office to represent motorcycle accident clients in San Luis Obispo County.  This county ranks 29 of 58 on the OTS ranking with:

103 motorcycles killed or injured in a collision

Why are we bringing up these statistics?  Because May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month!  And this year we want to help raise awareness for safety to motorcycles, too!  We are motorcycle accident lawyers in San Francisco and San Luis Obispo and safety starts with awareness, just like when we advocate for bicycle safety awareness.

What Can You Do For National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month 2017?

If you ride a motorcycle or know someone who rides:

  • Get your helmet checked for age, damage, and fit – take it in to an authorized dealer.
  • Wear reflective gear and consider adding a new piece to honor National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
  • Wear protective gear with armor and pads from head to toe.
  • Brush up your skills – Many motorcycle riding schools offer advanced riding courses.

If you are an automobile driver (4 wheels and not 2):

  • Remember to look twice – motorcycles can be harder to see in mirrors.
  • Watch turns – motorcycle blinkers often do not have automated “offs” like cars.
  • Give extra space – motorcycles can use their clutch to slow down before they brake which will not show you a brake light (until they do brake) giving you less time to stop.

Motorcycles can be a fun way to get around and in San Francisco an easier way to find parking.  If you or a loved one enjoys motorcycle riding for commuting or for cruising, be sure to share these tips for a safe National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month 2017 and let’s make every month a safer month for motorcycles and bicycles.  Until Vision Zero becomes a reality in San Francisco and hopefully San Luis Obispo, too (vision zero means zero traffic deaths and was adopted to safety policy by the City and County of San Francisco in 2014), remember that the personal injury attorneys at Rahman Law PC are here for you whether you need a motorcycle accident lawyer, bicycle accident attorney, or other personal injury counsel, contact us today.

Speed Kills: Pedestrian Collisions Can’t Be Ignored

rahman law in plaintiff magazine

The lawyers at Rahman Law are committed advocates of pedestrian rights, which means we represent pedestrians who have been hit by cars in California, particularly in urban areas on the central coast like San Francisco.  But you don’t have to be in an urban area to find yourself the victim in need of a pedestrian accident lawyerWe are all pedestrians.  Think about it: 100% of our commutes involve walking, even if it’s just to and from our car.

Yet we don’t normally associate ourselves as pedestrians and this mindset has led to a tragic “blame the victim” social stigma.  Honestly, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear someone was struck by a vehicle?  Right now, you’re probably wondering if they were playing Pokémon Go with their eyes glued on their smartphone and not traffic, but we shouldn’t jump to conclusions that the victim was at fault – EVER.  Both sides have a story, and in a situation where tonnage rules, the pedestrian is the one to sustain the more serious injuries.

Shaana Rahman, a pedestrian accident lawyer and the principal and founder of Rahman Law PC, was published last month in Plaintiff Magazine regarding her viewpoint as a pedestrian accident lawyer representing the family of a child hit in a crosswalk on his way to school.  The local media immediately fell to whispering about the possibility that the child was not paying enough attention to his surroundings and locals wanted to know if the boy was even in a crosswalk or had been jaywalking.  This struck Ms. Rahman as yet another case where blame was immediately thrown onto the victim falsely.  Where has our empathy for pedestrian accident victims gone?

Here is an excerpt from the magazine about her insight as a pedestrian accident lawyer in this instance:

The fact is one case in particular has stuck with me over the years and caused me to re-examine pedestrian cases. It was a case in which I represented the family of a 13-year-old child hit in a crosswalk on his way to school. The boy, hit by a young driver coming off a late shift at a Krispy Kreme, lived but suffered irreparable brain damage that left him in a persistent vegetative state. The first thing that struck me were the initial whispers in the media and from locals speculating that the child was wearing headphones, or may have been a foot or so outside the crosswalk, or perhaps darted out into the street. None of those things were true, of course, but it was interesting to witness the subtle bias we have in urban areas against pedestrians, despite the fact we are all pedestrians at some point or another. For a long time, we have had a very “blame-the-victim” mentality when it comes to pedestrian collisions.

Also, despite the clear responsibility of the driver for the collision, my clients insisted that their son wouldn’t have been hit if there had been a stop sign at the intersection, like the residents of the neighborhood had been demanding. This led me down a road of many, many public records act requests and fights with the City Attorneys’ office. The evidence I uncovered was really astounding.

You can read more about the injured boy and the case Ms. Rahman fought in her article Speed Kills: The Road to Stopping Pedestrian Fatalities Begins with the Speed Limit in July’s issue of Pedestrian Magazine here:

Plaintiff Magazine Pedestrial Accident Lawyer

To Veto or Not to Veto?

Not too long ago, Governor Jerry Brown aided making California a safer biking and walking community by passing the Three Feet for Safety Act, effective since September 16, 2014, which requires drivers to give at least three feet’s space in between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator when overtaking or passing a bicycle. The approval of this bill was a significant accomplishment to the growing bike-safety movement that persistently promoted street safety through campaigns such as “Be Nice, Look Twice” and “Vision Zero,” which encourage bicyclists and pedestrians to take matter into their own hands and take extra caution when sharing the street with motor vehicles. However, despite Governor Brown’s approval of AB 1371, three other bills that purported to improve road safety have recently been vetoed:

SB 1151: This bill would add Section 42011 to the Vehicle Code, which would “require that an additional fine of $35 be imposed if the violation occurred when passing a school building or school grounds, as specified, and the highway is posted with a standard “SCHOOL” warning sign and an accompanying sign notifying motorists that increased penalties apply for traffic violations that are committed within that school zone. In addition, this bill would require “that these additional fines be deposited in the State Transportation Fund for purposes of funding school zone safety projects within the Active Transportation Program.

Governor’s Veto Message:

“Increasing traffic fines as the method to pay transportation fund activities is a regressive increase that affects poor people disproportionately. Making safety improvements in school zones is obviously important, but not by increasing traffic fines.”


AB 2337: This bill would prohibit the department from reinstating a person’s privilege to drive a motor vehicle until the expiration of 2 years after the date of revocation and until that person gives proof of financial responsibility, when that person is the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in death or permanent, serious injury to another person, and the department receives a duly certified abstract of the record of a court showing that the person has been convicted of failing to fulfill the requirements described above.

Governor’s Veto Message:

“While I consider hit-and-run collisions to be very significant events, current penalties seem to be at appropriate levels.”


AB 1532: This bill would provide that a driver of a vehicle involved in an accident where a person is struck shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and provide specified information including, but not limited to, his or her name and current residence address. A violation of these provisions would be either an infraction, punishable by a fine not exceeding $250, or a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for 6 months, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000, or by both, and the Department of Motor Vehicles would be required to immediately suspend the driver’s license of a convicted driver for 6 months.

Governor’s Veto Message:

“California has a very extensive set of criminal laws and penalties. This measure would create a new crime that includes a fine and penalty assessments up to $4,231 and possible jail time of six months. I don’t find sufficient justification for creating a new crime when no injury to person or property occurred. I think current law is adequate.”


If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Safe Routes to School on the Chopping Block!

Last week Governor Brown released his budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year and one of the programs getting cut is California’s Safe Routes to School.

A Little Background on ‘Safe Routes to School’:

California’ Safe Routes to School program began in 1999 and has since become a model for the Federal Prgram and for State-Wide initiatives across the country. The program targets the crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes in school zones. Its goal is to make these areas safer for the children who frequent them, to increase the number of children who bike and walk to school.  In its more than 10 years of implementation the program has proven to be a success. “During a time of rising childhood obesity nationwide, obesity rates have started to reverse in California, and children in California are walking at ten percent higher rates than they did in 2001. Safe Routes to School is helping kids across California stay safe and get healthy on their way to school.”

How YOU Can Help:

Cutting the program will stop the progress that has been made. Schools will not receive the funding they desperately need to make their streets safer and traffic safety education in these schools will also decrease substantially. Protecting our children as they travel to and from school is one of the most important initiatives the state can fund. Do not let it fall between the cracks now.

1) Call the Governor’s Office: (916) 445-2841

  • Ask to speak to a representative
  • When someone answers, state your name and the city or town where you live, then tell the Governor’s aide that you urge Governor Brown to support dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School to ensure that kids can get safely to school on foot or by bicycle.

2) Email the Governor’s Office:

  • State your name and the city or town where you live, then tell the Governor’s aide that you urge Governor Brown to support dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School to ensure that kids can get safely to school on foot or by bicycle.

3) Send a Letter in Support of AB 1194 (Ammiano):, which will ensure funding for the Safe Routes program.

If you ever need a pedestrian accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Source: Marin County Bicycle Coalition

Increased Enforcement in 2013

Thanks to a $140,000 federal grant, San Franciscans will be seeing a greater police presence around schools, senior centers and other at-risk areas in the coming months. These motorcycle officers will be patrolling the areas, enforcing speed and other basic traffic laws in an attempt to make them safer for pedestrians. Violators will be fined $155 per violation.

SFPD has not yet released the names of those areas in which it plans to increase its presence, but Walk SF Director Elizabeth Stampe is hopeful that it will be around schools and centers located adjacent to major thoroughfares like Market Street. While this targeted increase in enforcement is good news for San Francisco’s most vulnerable pedestrians, the children and the elderly, it is not enough for most of the city’s cyclists and pedestrians. As was pointed out in this blog’s ealier post about Valencia street, San Francisco needs more enforcement, period. San Francisco drivers must be made aware that they will be caught and fined when they drive recklessly  and put the lives of the city’s cyclists and pedestrians in danger.

As Stampe commented, “this is helpful and we’re glad to have it, but this is a short-term approach”. What San Francisco needs is an increase in police enforcement of basic traffic laws across the city.


Motorcycle Safety Classes- JUST DO IT!

In our 3-part article “Motorcycle 101” we blogged about all things motorcycle – tips, laws, gear, buyer’s tricks and time-tested advice. At the very top of our list (well, #3) was a little tid-bit of advice that we cannot help but stress again and again. Don’t be Proud: Get Training. Negotiating traffic on a motorcycle will be different from any other driving experience you have ever had. You may have ridden a dirt bike and you have probably been driving cars for years, but that doesn’t make you an expert motorcycle-driver. Bottom Line: It’s better to be safe, so take a safety course.

For those of you who have been holding back, now is the time to take a course. Winter is on its way, which means San Francisco fog and rain, slippery roads and increased risk of accident.

Rahman Law recommends Monkey Moto School. Evan is an old friend and he is an amazing instructor. Sign up for a private beginner’s lesson and learn the basics at whatever speed you are most comfortable. Or if you have slightly more experience you can take an intermediate lesson and learn to navigate the difficult San Francisco hills like a pro.

Evan- Monkey Moto School

This is not just for beginners! Be sure to check out Evan’s website – and read the faqs and the testimonials! These classes will be a worthwhile investment. So JUST DO IT!

No on Prop. 33- A Victory Repeated Election after Election

Prop. 33 got overshadowed in all of the frenzy surrounding Propositions 30, 32 and 37 these past few months. However, the magnitude of the victory for California drivers that was the defeat of Prop. 33 on Tuesday cannot be overstated.

Proposition 33 was the brainchild of Mercury Insurance founder George Joseph. It was benignly advertised as a proposition that would allow insurance companies to set prices based on whether a driver had previously carried auto insurance. The benefits, the companies argued, were numerous. Namely, insurance companies would have to compete for new drivers. The proposition would allow the companies to offer proportional discounts for drivers with prior coverage.

In reality, Prop. 33 simply sought to undue the restrictions voters placed on automobile insurance companies in 1988 when they passed Proposition 103. Prop. 103  prevents insurance companies from discriminating against new customers simply because they have not had continuous insurance coverage. It does not prevent companies from offering loyalty discounts to their long-term customers. Prop. 33 isn’t the first time that the insurance companies have tried to loosen the Prop. 103 restrictions. Just two years ago, Prop. 17, also funded by the George Joseph, was on the ballot with an eerily similar purpose.  Mr. Joseph “has seemingly made it his mission in life to end [the restrictions placed on automobile insurance companies by Prop. 103], spending millions from his personal fortune to bankroll [the unsuccessful  propositions].”

According to the State Department of Insurance, if Propositions 17 or 33 had passed insurers would be able to offer drivers switching from one insurance company to another a new discount. In order to offset this discount, however, they would have to charge higher rates to customers who were seeking insurance for the first time, or after they had let their insurance lapse for a period longer than 90 days. This isn’t just speculation. It is fact. Insurance companies offering the new discount would have to “collect enough revenue to cover the risk of loss posed by the entire group of new customers.”

As a consequence of this need to hike prices for the newly insured, uninsured Californians would face higher premiums when they tried to get insured. Higher premiums for those least likely to be able to afford them, means less insured drivers on the road. Less insured drivers means higher premiums for those with insurance. It is a dangerous spiral and one which Californians have decided again and again and again to avoid completely.

College students across the state, many of whom have drivers licenses and clean driving records from their time spent driving in high school, would be one group who would be effected by the passage of Prop. 33 and other propositions like it. College students often let their car insurance lapse when they are living on or near campus for four years. If Prop. 103 was gutted, as Props. 17 and 33 attempted to do, these new graduates would face higher premiums because they had let their insurance lapse during a period when they were not driving.

In spite of the absurd amounts of money poured into the fight for this proposition (mostly by one man), California voters saw through the facade much like they did in 2010. This is a huge victory for drivers throughout the state. Those with insurance will continue to be eligible for loyalty discounts, and those without insurance can be confident that when they do seek coverage they will not be paying extra to support discounts for those few switching insurance companies.

So much for the good news. The bad news: it is almost a guarantee that a similar proposition will find its way onto a ballot in the next few years. Whether its Prop 17, 33, 70 or 54, we can only hope that Californians will continue to see past the deceitful rehotric paid for by the insurance companies, and will continue to do what is best for California Drivers.

 Sources: That is why college newspapers across the state urged students to vote no on Prop 33.