Wisconsin bill would protect 'vulnerable highway users'

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/7/2013

An effort underway at the Wisconsin statehouse is aimed at protecting the most vulnerable people on roadways around the state.

Assemblyman Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, introduced a bill that would increase the punishment for drivers who injure or kill someone else who is considered a “vulnerable highway user.”

The protected group would include pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, police, fire and other emergency personnel.

Offenders who harm a vulnerable highway user would face double penalties. Similar rules already are in place for traffic violations that occur in highway work zones.

Specifically, violations that result in severe injury could face fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to 90 days in jail. Incidents that cause death could result in fines of up to $10,000 and/or up to nine months in jail.

Supporters say the bill is a step toward making people more aware of other, more vulnerable, people on the roadway. Opponents say rules already in place address right-of-way issues.

The bill – AB388 – is in the Assembly Transportation Committee.

Bies’ bill follows a failed attempt a year ago to amend the state’s “move over” law. A Senate bill sought to impose double fines up to $10,000 for failure to make way. It included the possibility for offenders to spend up to 42 months behind bars.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Wisconsin, click here.

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