highway safety bills at RI Assembly
Bicyclists, understandably concerned about highway safety, should be aware that about 30 bills related to that subject have been filed at the General Assembly. One is a reintroduction of our “vulnerable road user” bill, H5777, sponsored again by Representative Teresa Tanzi of Narragansett. That bill ups the (currently negligible) penalties if a careless motorist, not taking due care, kills or injures a vulnerable road user such as a bicyclist or pedestrian.
A related bill, H5061 ups penalties if a motorist violating a traffic law at an intersection kills or injures someone as a result. However, note national statistics indicate about 2/3 of bicycle crashes are NOT at intersections. There are also many bills tightening drunk driving controls, others increase penalties if texting while driving, ban hand-held cell phone use while driving, and affect driver education. While the details on these bills may be beyond our scope, I think the bicycle community should generally support bills to make driving safer.
Finally I note the state has adopted a “Strategic Highway Safety Plan” one element of which calls for a Distracted Driving Task Force. Since bicyclists are so at risk from distracted driving, I suggested that bicyclists be invited to participate on that task force.