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Bill would help protect pedestrians and cyclists


For several years, pedestrian and bike advocacy group in Connecticut have sought new laws to increase financial penalties for reckless drivers who cause pedestrian accidents and collide with cyclists. Earlier this month, this measure advanced through the General Assembly when the Transportation Committee approved a bill raising penalties who do not exercise due care in avoiding a crash with a pedestrian or cyclist.

The measure, House Bill 5403, would increase the current fine from $90.00 to $500.00 for violations. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill almost unanimously in March. The House Leadership will have to decide whether the full House can vote on the bill before the end of the current legislative session.

Connecticut suffered pedestrian 47 pedestrian fatalities in 2014 which was an increase from the 37 deaths reported one year earlier, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The NHTSA found that there were also three cyclists and other pedestrians killed each year in 2014 and 2013.

While the Transportation Committee passed the bill by a lopsided and bipartisan 26-5 vote, Chairman Tony Guerrera opposed the measure. He is normally a strong advocate of safety measures but said that motorists would not drive safer only under the threat of increased fines. According to Chairman Guerrera, police are often reluctant to cite drivers with the current $90.00 fine because it is difficult to prove whether a driver exercised due care because that standard is ambiguous and hard to prove.

Truckers and other driver advocacy groups have long opposed this measure as being inequitable and impracticable. They have argued that this legislation should also increase penalties for reckless pedestrians and bicyclists.

Pedestrian accidents and fatalities will be an enduring problem in Connecticut as these attempts are made to protect the public. Victims of a reckless or negligent driver should seek immediate legal representation to help assure that they can pursue compensation for serious injuries and other losses in a lawsuit.

Source: Hartford Courant, "Bill would raise penalties for careless drivers who hit pedestrians, cyclists," By Don Stacom, April 15, 2016

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