Governor Signs “Vulnerable Users” Law

by Dave on August 12, 2010

Surrounded by bicycle advocates and enthusiasts at Paper Mill Road Park, Governor Jack Markell signed into law today Senate Bill 269, which amends Delaware’s careless or inattentive driving law and increases penalties for drivers convicted of inattentive or careless driving that results in the injury of a “vulnerable user” of the state’s roads. A “vulnerable user” includes pedestrians, including those who work on the road (construction or utility), cyclists, skateboarders, those on roller skates or inline skates, scooters, mopeds, motorcycles, farm tractors or similar farm vehicles and those riding on animals.

“As a cyclist myself, I understand how vulnerable someone feels on the road next to motor vehicles, “ said Governor Markell. “This bill is first and foremost about safety. It’s about protecting people using a public right of way. It puts all of us, as drivers, on notice that motor vehicles must, at times, share the road. We are all focused on making Delaware an even better place to ride.”

Delaware courts can now impose additional penalties including a mandatory traffic safety course or community service for the driver found guilty of inattentive driving involving the injury or death of a vulnerable user. Until now, no such enhanced penalties existed.

State Senator David Sokola (D- Newark), primary sponsor of the legislation and cyclist, said at today’s signing, “Anyone who comes to this park by any other means than a motor vehicle is a vulnerable user. SB269 is not only about cyclists; it’s about other road users affected by inattentive drivers. Legitimate road users are entitled to protections under the law.”

“Hopefully, this legislation will raise awareness of all road users by public safety folks and drivers on the road,” said State Representative Joseph Miro (R- Pike Creek), a co-sponsor of the legislation.

“This is another step in making Delaware a better place to live and making our roads safer,” said Amy Wilburn, Chair of the Delaware Bicycle Council, which advocated for the legislation.

Delaware becomes the second state in the nation to have a vulnerable road users law that offers additional protections to cyclists and other non-motorized users of our shared roadways. The cycling community is applauding Delaware’s leadership in this area.

“It is this sort of leadership that has propelled Delaware to tenth in our annual state rankings and garnered the state a bronze-level bicycle-friendly state designation,” said Andy Clarke, League of American Bicyclists President. “We look forward to Delaware’s continued progress in making the state a great place for bicyclists.”

-press release from the Office of the Governor-

{ 2 comments }

Rebecca August 13, 2010 at 6:16 am

This is crazy. So, if a motorist hits a “vulnerable user”, the motorist will face stiffer penalties. How exactly does this benefit the “vulnerable user” who is now in the hospital or the morgue? The beach area is crawling with cyclists and pedestrians who do not obey the traffic laws, and who are (in my opinion) engaging in an inherently dangerous activity by riding on heavily used thoroughfares which are populated by tourist drivers who have no idea where they are going and who are too busy looking at the outlets to pay attention to their driving. If you want to do something that is actually beneficial for cyclists and pedestrians, stop passing useless laws and build separate bike paths and pedestrian overpasses so “vulnerable users” don’t get creamed on Rt. 1.

Editor August 13, 2010 at 6:20 am

Rebecca — Here’s the link to the text of the legislation which defines who is protected. There does not appear to be any reference to users operating safely, just references to the right-of-way, shoulder, etc. You raise a good point.

http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/lis145.nsf/vwLegislation/SB+269/$file/legis.html?open

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