The bill, modeled after an Oregon law, enhances the penalty for drivers convicted of careless or inattentive drivers who cause serious physical injury to cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. The new law includes sentencing guidelines such as:
- completion of a traffic safety course
- perform up to 100 hours of community service related to driver improvement and providing public education on traffic safety
- fines up to $550
- suspension of driving privileges
At the same time, a similar law in New York will become law after today, unless Governor David Paterson decides to veto it. Last year, the Texas legislature also passed a vulnerable users law, only to see Governor Rick Perry veto it.
The value of these laws, which seem to be spreading across the country, is that they offer prosecutors a charge with some teeth that doesn't rise to the level of a vehicular manslaughter charge. If police and prosecutors are unwilling to throw the full force of the law against a dangerous driver, vulnerable users laws ensure there's still an option with more serious consequences than a speeding ticket. And the laws strengthen the recognition that drivers have a moral obligation to look out for pedestrians and cyclists.
More from around the network: Everything old is new again, as Cyclelicious finds Mark Twain calling for bike-sharing in 1895 (in Portland, naturally). BikeDenver rebrands bike activism by introducing Kidical Mass. And BikePortland points out that downtown is still dominated by surface parking lots.