Wisconsin laws cover overtaking vehicles, 'vulnerable highway users'

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 6/18/2014

Two new laws in Wisconsin are intended to improve safety on the state’s roadways.

The first rule change gets rid of a requirement in Wisconsin law for passing drivers to alert vehicles ahead.

Wisconsin law requires drivers impeding traffic to make way and move to the right for overtaking vehicles when they hear an “audible signal” that he or she intends to pass.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill into law that removes the requirement for passing vehicles to give an audible signal, such as honking the horn, to warn the vehicle ahead that they are being overtaken.

Tom Rhatican with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation said that although it was once viewed as a courtesy, honking the horn at another driver is no longer viewed the same.

The change took effect immediately.

One more new law defines who is considered a “vulnerable highway user.” The protected group includes pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, police, fire and other emergency personnel.

Effective Aug. 1, all driver education courses will be required to spend at least 30 minutes teaching teach students about the hazards posed by motor vehicles to vulnerable highway users.

Supporters said the new law is a step toward making people more aware of other, more vulnerable, people on the roadway.

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