ON Thursday May 5 the Senate Judiciary Committee heard numerous highway safety bills including S669, the “vulnerable road user” bill that enhances penalties if a careless driver injures or kills a bicyclist or other vulnerable user. Other bills were aimed at limiting hand-held cell phone use while driving, tightening drunk driving controls and penalties and increasing penalties for hit-and-run. All were “held for further study” which means anything can happen depending on what the leadership wants.
Due to a controversial primary sear belt law (supported by public health, AAA and other safety advocates but opposed by some civil rights groups fearing police using it for more racial profiling) S669 wasn’t taken up until about 8:30pm. The sponsor, Senator Sue Sosnoswski, and I spoke for it (I told Lori’s story as part of my testimony) and the ACLU spoke against it, saying the law was unneessary. Matt signed up for it for the NBW and though the Coalition ofr Transportation Choices )CTC) of which RI Bike is a member never took a position, we did gey help from other CTC member groups, notably the American Lung Association that wants to encourage biking and walking to help reduce air pollution, and the Sierra Club which generally suppored all the highway safety bills as part of their complete streets campaign to make the roads safer for all users.
At this point, those wanting to see this bill passed should call their Senators, or the Senate leaders (President Paiva-Weed, Majority Leader Ruggierio, Judciary Chair McCaffrey in particular) and ask for support.