Bills would create enhanced penalties for drivers who injure or kill a vulnerable roadway user, such as cyclists, pedestrians or wheelchair users.
LANSING, Mich., Oct. 26, 2023 — State Sens. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) and Veronica Klinefelt (D-Macomb), alongside state Reps. Julie M. Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) and Bill Schuette (R-Midland), reintroduced legislation this week to expand the statutory provision that provides enhanced penalties for a moving violation that causes injury to a “vulnerable roadway user.” Senate Bills 617–618 and House Bills 5223–5224 would expand protections afforded to vulnerable roadway users including pedestrians, bicyclists, individuals using a wheelchair or an individual riding or operating a vulnerable transportation device.
“This legislation outlines safe interactions between motorists and vulnerable roadway users,” McCann said. “Michigan law should ensure that road users face consequences for reckless behavior that results in injury or death of another person. Under these bills, law enforcement and prosecutors would be afforded another tool to fill the gap between basic traffic infractions and more serious crimes.”
“As a practicing physical therapist and fellow cyclist, I know just how important movement is to our mental and physical health. Bicycling is part of a healthy lifestyle, and I am proud to be from the bike-friendly community of Kalamazoo,” Rogers said. “Unfortunately, Kalamazoo has experienced its share of bicycling-related tragedies. In 2016, nine cyclists were hit by a person driving a truck while riding together near Markin Glen Park. Five of the cyclists were killed, and the other four were seriously injured and hospitalized. We must do more to protect our vulnerable roadway users, and I am proud to be part of this package to do just that.”
“It is important that we recognize the different users of our roadways and protect those who are much more vulnerable while on our roads,” Klinefelt said. “This legislation is aimed at individuals who drive with no regard for those users.”
“While work continues to hopefully fix our darn roads, we should also work to make sure those most at risk of serious harm from accidents on those roads are protected,” Schuette said.
“Everyone deserves the choice to bike or walk safely. We already have increased penalties in Michigan for drivers who hit and kill road workers, and these bills follow the same principle of deterrence. We strongly support them as a part of the solution to make our roads safer for people who walk, bike and roll,” said John Lindenmayer, executive director of the League of Michigan Bicyclists.
Preliminary data released by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that 7,508 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roadways in 2022, the highest number since 1981, with an average of 20 deaths every day. Vulnerable road user laws serve as a deterrent for reckless driving habits that endanger pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users in our communities.