BicyclePaper recently put up an awesome article about vulnerable road user laws, and how they effect cyclists, as well as drivers. The article starts off with the all too common example of a driver hitting a cyclist, being at fault, and then getting off scott free. There are even instances of a driver hitting a cyclist, and killing them, where the driver is fined a minor traffic violation between $40-$100.
The article does a great job at looking into why this type of enforcement happens showing that there really is no precedent when it comes to car and bicycle accidents.
Prosecuting a driver is harder than many might think. To punish someone for the act of killing a cyclist, judges would have to sentence the motorist with vehicular homicide, a serious crime that requires proof of deliberate intent and can result in punishment of up to life imprisonment. This requirement also creates a difficult barrier for cases where drivers are careless. The step down from vehicular homicide or assault is reckless driving, which is what some drivers end up getting charged with for unsafely changing lanes, failing to yield, etc. However, if prosecutors do not think that they can find evidence of careless and negligent driving, there is little chance that they will move forward with the case.
Washington recently passed HB 1339 which reads;
The bill aims to protect pedestrians, cyclists, moped users, people riding horses, and others by penalizing motorists much more severely. Under the new law, fines could reach $5,000 and licenses would be suspended for 90 days. Alternatively, the driver could choose to perform up to 100 hours of community service in traffic safety or driver improvement, complete a state approved traffic safety course, and pay a $250 fine.
Laws like the one above are becoming more and more prevalent especially with studies being around which show that bicyclist are at fault less than 10% of the time in a bike on car collision.
So what do we have in Provo? Luckily we have the 3foot law which states;
An operator of a motor vehicle may not knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly operate a motor vehicle within three feet of a moving bicycle, unless the operator of the motor vehicle operates the motor vehicle within a reasonable and safe distance of the bicycle.
While this is a giant step in the right direction it seems as though we could use more direct verbiage that set out to not only restrict an action but also to enforce that restriction. As a rider on the road what do you think?