Lawmakers Approve Heavy Fines for Drivers Injuring Cyclists, Pedestrians

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After three years of pressure from bicycling and pedestrian activists, the General Assembly gave final approval Thursday to a bill increasing fines for drivers who seriously injure or kill “vulnerable users” of our roads.

The legislation will impose additional fines of up to $1,000 on any drivers convicted of failing to use “reasonable care” and have a serious accident involving people walking, cycling, in wheelchairs, riding horses, driving tractors, skaters, skateboarders, roller skaters and and those working on the highway.

House lawmakers voted 136-3 in favor of the bill, which passed the Senate unanimously. The measure now goes to the governror.

“For too long, pedestrians and cyclists felt they were second-class citizens,” said Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven.

Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, said the roads in her part of the state are often curving and wooded. “It’s very difficult when you’re trying to ride a bicycle or walk on these roads,” she said.

“There have been too many deaths, too many injuries,” Rep. Richard Smith, R-New Fairfield.

Motorists who cause serious injury or death as a result of driving recklessly can already be charged under a variety of state laws ranging from negligent homicide to misconduct with a motor vehicle.

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