For the fifth consecutive year, the Connecticut General Assembly is considering a bill to help hold accountable careless drivers who injure or kill pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorized “vulnerable users” of the state’s roads.
Bike Walk Connecticut, the advocacy organization working to make Connecticut a better place to bike and walk, supported the bill again this year in testimony before the legislature’s Transportation Committee on March 5.
The bill, SB 336, would allow reckless drivers to be fined up to $1000 when they cause the death of or injury to a pedestrian, cyclist or other “vulnerable user” who uses reasonable care on the road.
From 2006 to 2012, a total of 10,793 pedestrians and cyclists have been killed or injured while using Connecticut roads, according to federal and state crash data registries.
Federal and state data report that 10,793 pedestrians and cyclists were injured or killed in Connecticut from 2006 through 2012. Data for 2013 and 2014 is not yet available.
A majority of vulnerable user accidents occur along “arterial” roadways-streets that are designed for speeding traffic with little or no provision for people on foot, on bicycles or in wheelchairs. Excessive speed, distracted driving, and occasional outright driver hostility too often play a role in these tragedies.
Study after study reveals that more people would make more trips by bike or on foot and drive less if they felt safer in traffic. Passing the Vulnerable User bill, and then enforcing it, will raise awareness across the board about the need to be alert for the various users of our public roads.
Vulnerable User legislation is good public policy. Making Connecticut a better place to bike and walk will reduce traffic congestion; create more vibrant town centers; save money; and give us cleaner air and a healthier population.
In the last two years, the Vulnerable User bill has had broad legislative support and passed the Senate unanimously, but it was not brought to a vote in the House in either year.
Bike Walk Connecticut and its members urge readers to ask their legislators to pass the Vulnerable User bill, SB 336, early this legislative session and get the bill across the finish line this year.