It’s here: Life Before License!

When a father and son are struck and left for dead, it’s time to do something about hit and run.  When a judge sentences a hit and run convict to 90 days community service for nearly destroying someone’s life, it’s time to do something about hit and run.  When 32% of all collisions are hit and run (Los Angeles, SWITRS data from 1999-2008), it’s time to do something about hit and run.

Gary Kavanagh's excellent logo design

That’s why Bikeside is heading to Sacramento to change California law.  We think it’s time to restore the principle that life should come before license.  With the campaign Life Before License we will take convicted hit and run drivers of the road, and in doing so send a clear message that being convicted of hit and run will be more than an inconvenience.  We propose that California law be changed so that once convicted of hit and run, a motorist loses their driving privilege.  Further, we propose that the loss of driving privileges be tied to the outcome of the hit and run, according to the following:

  • A hit and run which results in fatality will result in the loss of driving privileges for 10 years.
  • A hit and run which results in permanent disability, or causes a life threatening injury will result in the loss of driving privileges for 5 years.
  • A hit and run which results in injury, but which does not lead to permanent disability or a life threatening injury, will result in the loss of driving privileges for 2 years.
  • A hit and run which results in the damage of property only will result in the loss of driving privileges for 1 year.

How you can help:

In order to make it through the legislative process in Sacramento we’re going to need a number of things, but most of all, political clout.  We’ll need to forge a statewide alliance of groups who support Life Before License to fend off any opposition.

If you can secure an endorsement from a non-profit, a business, local goverment, a politician or other significant figure, that helps immensely.  Drop us a line –

If you can even get the process started, that helps too.  Plus, if you let us know that you support the campaign and your zip code, then if we need letters of support sent to a specific legislator when the time comes, we can contact you.

Just as important, law can only make so much difference.  Ultimately we have a problem with hit and run because it’s become culturally acceptable, or at least it’s not as culturally unacceptable as it once was.  Campaigning to change state law is also an opportunity to change minds.  If this issue is important to you, bring it up with those close to you.  If you like, send them to our Life Before License survey as a conversation starter.  Who knows, they may be able to help at the political level!

Finally, for those in the LA area who really want to do some heavy lifting, we’ll have an organizing meeting this coming Sunday, 10/17, at the Hollywood Adventist Church at 1711 N. Van Ness Ave from 1pm to 3pm. Please come!  I think we have a winning campaign on our hands here, so join us on the ground floor on our way to the penthouse (of safe streets.)

A change in stats:

You may have heard us quote that statistic that 38% of all collisions in LA are hit and run (in 2008.)  We got that stat from an LAPD report in February.  However, in that report LAPD used stats only for collisions which they took the report for.  It turns out that in about 1/3 of the collisions in LA, some law enforcement agency other than LAPD takes the report; most often CHP takes a report for a collision on the highway.

Adding those collisions changes the statistic, and since it’s a more robust statistic with all collisions included, from now on we’ll be using that larger dataset.

So if, when you read then introduction to this post, you thought “didn’t they say 38% of collisions in LA are hit and run, not 32%”, then that’s why.  The correct statistic is 32% once you add in the missing data.

Stay tuned:

As time allows we’ll post additional info about Life Before License, such as why this campaign and not another, in depth reports on hit and run statistics, in depth reports on those hit and run cases we’re able to follow, and an explanation of why we chose the particular loss of driving privilege times that we did.

As always, if you want to get involve, contact us at

Alex Thompson

Bikerowave co-founder, Cyclists' Bill of Rights co-author, President of Bikeside, and Math Phd. HULK SMASH straight from Michigan!

4 thoughts on “It’s here: Life Before License!

  1. Awesome news!! Congrats! Alex what about the issue of witnessing… The chief reason that prosecutors do very little as it is, is because it’s very difficult to get convictions by jury trial. Most prosecutors will offer a plea bargain (as in my own case) because of this. As I was informed, prosecutors rarely move forward without at least 2 witnesses
    who can ID the suspect. With a license at stake I have a feeling a lot more people will be willing to put up a fight via public defender or a lawyer. Just sayin…

  2. i wonder if it would be possible for a law (perhaps an add on to LB4L) that would allow insurers to recoup the costs of hit-n-runs from drivers who leave the scene.

    If a hit-n-run were a violation of their terms of their agreement then perhaps an insurer could recoup costs.

    it would create an giant financial dis-incentive to for drivers to flea.

    And a financial incentive for insurance companies to support a crack down on the hit and run epidemic.

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