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House OKs Bill Fining Drivers Negligent Near Walkers, Riders

The Rhode Island State House is located at 82 Smith St. Providence. The FBI warns of armed protests planned at the RI Capitol at all state capitols.
The Rhode Island State House is located at 82 Smith St. Providence. The FBI warns of armed protests planned at the RI Capitol at all state capitols.
The Rhode Island State House is located at 82 Smith St. Providence. The FBI warns of armed protests planned at the RI Capitol at all state capitols.

STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives has passed legislation introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) fining drivers who endanger pedestrians and cyclists on roads.

The bill (2021-H 5093) would provide fines and sanctions to operators of motor vehicles who fail to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a vulnerable road user causing injury, serious injury, or death to the vulnerable road user.

“This was a 3.4 percent increase in national pedestrian fatalities in 2018, and a 6.3 percent increase in bicyclist fatalities,” said Representative McNamara. “As a lifelong cyclist, I’ve noticed motor vehicles coming a lot closer to vulnerable road users — often dangerously close. I’m sure distracted driving has led to this — at least in part. This legislation will provide a layer of protection to those who share the road with automobiles.”

The bill, which has the support of the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition, defines vulnerable road user as a pedestrian; a bicyclist; a police officer or emergency worker on duty when outside of a vehicle; a highway worker performing duties outside of a vehicle; a person riding on or driving a wheelchair, motorized or not; a person using a skateboard, inline skate, or roller skates; a person riding on or driving an animal; or a person riding on a scooter.

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Those found in violation would be fined $200 for a collision resulting in bodily injury, $500 for serious bodily injury, or $1,000 for a collision resulting in death.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2021-S 0318) has been introduced by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston).

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.