68ºF

State motorists would face tougher penalties under ‘vulnerable road users’ law

Drivers guilty of great bodily harm or death would be placed under house arrest

ORLANDO, Fla. – The alarming rate of injuries and deaths of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists on Florida roads has prompted two Republican lawmakers to file legislation that calls for tougher penalties against drivers found guilty of a moving violation resulting in bodily harm or death of a vulnerable road user.”

Under HB-455, sponsored by State Rep. Stan McClain of Ocala, and SB-103, sponsored by State Sen. Dennis Baxley, motorists would face a fine, house arrest, attend a driver-improvement course and lose their license “for a minimum specified period.”

In 2018, 149 bicyclists and 720 pedestrians were killed on Florida roads.

Rachel Maney, director of the non-profit group Bike Law, told News 6 she is thankful the legislation has been filed.

“We’re no longer going to trivialize the value of human life," Maney said. "Under current law, it’s a moving violation that has to change.”

Maney has been leading a national effort to improve safety and legal standards for bicyclists who are left vulnerable on the road.

“I think we are at this juncture in time where there is no other response,” Maney said. “I think we are at a point as Floridians to go from being decades behind to becoming the state that trail blazes the way.”

Maney said the recent death of retired Marine David McGrin near Orlando International Airport last July is a prime example of the lack of “Justice” in the current law.

“If I were to ask David McGrin’s widow and son what justice is, their answer is going to be very different than someone else’s," she said.

Maney said she would like the laws to be named in David McGrin’s honor.

Similar legislation was filed last year but feel short.

“I am optimistic and hopeful,” Maney said of the idea that the proposed laws will pass both the House and the Senate.

If approved, they would go into effect July 1, 2020.

For more information on the proposed legislation, click here.


About the Author: