Bills call for stricter penalties on hitting designated ‘vulnerable road users’
Bills filed this week in the Florida Legislature seek to create new “vulnerable road user” designations to pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, skateboarders and people handling horse-drawn carriages.
The House and Senate bills (SB 1312 and HB 1159) filed by Sen. Greg Evers and Rep. Dwight Dudley would charge any motorist who commits a moving violation on vulnerable road users that cause serious bodily injury with a second-degree misdemeanor.
The specification also includes pedestrians, people engaged in work on highways and people legitimately on the road traveling on bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds or animals, operating farm equipment, skateboards, in-line skates, horse-drawn carriages, electric personal-assistive mobility devices or wheelchairs.
If the vulnerable user dies as a result, the penalty increases to a first-degree misdemeanor, with the possible loss of a motorist driver’s license for at least one year, but not replace other charges the motorist could face.
The proposal has support from a number of organizations, including the Florida branch of the American Bikers Aim Toward Education (ABATE), a motorcyclists-rights organization.
This measure is distinct from SB 102 and HB 183, known as the “Aaron Cohen” Hit-and-Run Act, which is already moving through the Legislature. Aaron Cohen would make it a second-degree felony, other than the current third-degree felony, with the potential revocation of a driver’s license for motorists who leave the scene of a accident involving serious bodily injury.
The hit-and-run motorist would face a minimum four years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.