Whoa, look at Nevada's new vulnerable user law.

From Streets Blog with Maryland comparisons inserted: Nevada’s pedestrian fatality rate is almost twice the US average. Between 2000 and 2009 541 people were killed while walking in Nevada [Maryland: 1,057 pedestrians killed] – this makes the state the eighth most dangerous in the nation for walking, according to Transportation for America’s 2011 “Dangerous by Design” report [While this report ranks Maryland at #15 for the years 2000-2009 Nevada has been getting better but Maryland is getting worse. FARS ranks Maryland the 4th highest pedestrian fatality rate and Nevada #19 for 2009, basically a flip in positions from 2000]. Conditions are also hazardous for bicyclists. Urban streets and rural roads with high speed limits, a discontinuous bicycle and pedestrian transportation system, and careless drivers in a car-oriented culture make for dangerous conditions.

But Nevada also has a growing and active community of bicycle and pedestrian advocates who got together in the 2011 legislative session to work with legislators on two bills to improve cycling and walking conditions in the state.

Muscle Powered, a grassroots citizens organization advocating for better bicycling and walking conditions in Nevada’s capital city, decided last year to make the passage of a Vulnerable Users Law a priority for the Nevada 2011 legislative session. The bill was modeled on Oregon’s law, which defines vulnerable users and describes additional penalties for careless driving when vulnerable users are affected.
It is interesting to note that MDOT and in particular the Highway Safety Office has opposed any sort of vulnerable user law while they did push and got double fines for highway workers (one group of vulnerable road user) as if to say only highway works have a legitimate reason to be on the road and pedestrians and cyclists do not. Shameful that the government agency responsible for our ever increasing pedestrian fatality rate should oppose such a measure.

Let's look at the new Nevada law:
1. A person who is convicted of a violation [a bunch of "regular" violations or simply: an at fault driver] and as a result of the violation proximately causes the death of or substantial bodily harm to a vulnerable highway user, shall, in addition to the term of imprisonment or amount of the fine, or both, that the court imposes for the primary offense, be punished by:
(a) A fine of not more than $12,500;
(b) The revocation of his or her driver’s license for 1 year;
(c) The performance of not less than 50 hours or more than 200 hours of community service; and
(d) Completion, at the person’s expense, of a course of traffic safety approved by the Department.

In Maryland if you are speeding and kill someone it's just $500 speeding ticket max (if a highway worker it's $1000.) If some sort of negligence can be proved tack on a whopping $290 (court rule.) If a higher form of negligence can be proved that results in a death (not a serious injury) then out new manslaughter law kicks in with a $5,000 max and/or 3 years in jail max. No doubt you heard all the buzz about jailing someone so it remains to be seen what the courts will do with this new law.

Compare that to $12,500 + 1 year revoked drivers license+ community service + traffic safety course + fine for the violation. This is why this is filed under News You Will Not See in Maryland.

Streets Blog: <a href="http://streetsblog.net/2011/06/16/nevada-legislature-passes-two-bicycle-and-pedestrian-safety-bills/">http://streetsblog.net/2011/06/16/nevada-legislature-passes-two-bicycle-and-pedestrian-safety-bills/</a>;
FARS: <a href="http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesPedestrians.aspx">http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesPedestrians.aspx</a>;

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