By Robert Mann, Attorney at Radix Law
As Arizona’s crushing summer heat once again sets multiple records, there tends to rise a chorus of those who would like to see a “Stupid Hiker Law,” modeled after Arizona’s well-known “Stupid Motorist Law.” The refrain this year is not as loud, due to the fact that, thankfully, there has not been recent publicity surrounding any heat-related rescues. But the murmur remains.
Arizona’s Stupid Motorist Law provides for the recovery of first-responder expenses against a driver who (i) drives around a road-closed barrier, (ii) drives into water that is covering the roadway, (iii) becomes stranded, and (iv) needs to be rescued.
The harm the law seeks to prevent is obvious: Do not drive into flooded roadways. If there is standing or running water, it is dangerous, so do not do it. If there is no water in the roadway, it is safe to drive, and the sign is removed to allow safe passage.
However, the risk and the behavior to be avoided for a Stupid Hiker Law is not as clear.
Hiking always contains an element of risk. People trip or fall. Hikers can have medical events unrelated to the temperature. There have been rescues reported related to aggressive bee attacks. There are rattle snakes. Monsoon storms also create dangerous wind and lightening conditions.
Hiking on preserve trails presents risk, even under optimal conditions. On roadways, it is easy to warn of water. That is a discreet, clear and temporary risk from driving into low-lying streets. The many risks of hiking are too varied and too diverse to be so easily defined and avoided.
In any case, anyone who has driven past a Valley trailhead in 118 degree heat can attest to the fact that, there really is not that much interest in hiking on such days.
Robert (Bob) Mann concentrates in litigation, bringing over twenty years of experience in both civil and complex commercial litigation to Radix Law. Over the course of his career, Bob has represented clients in litigation matters both large and small throughout the state of Arizona. He has practiced in both state and federal courts, and in a wide variety of non-court settings, including mediation, governmental administrative proceedings and arbitrations. His experience includes both trial work and appellate practice.