HARRISBURG - Legislation to strengthen penalties for careless drivers who kill or injure a vulnerable highway user passed with wide bipartisan support in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brett Miller (R-East Hempfield).
Specifically, House Bill 1536
defines a vulnerable highway user as a pedestrian, a bicycle rider, an animal drawn vehicle driver (such as a horse and buggy), or similar user who travels while not encased in a motor vehicle.
“Pennsylvania’s highways have a high percentage of users who are not riding in vehicles that serve as steel cages with air bags and seat belts,” Miller said. “We’ve all seen reports of the horrific tragedies that can result when these people are hit by a careless driver who is operating what is essentially a 4,000-pound projectile.”
Along with defining this class of drivers, the legislation adds stronger penalties for individuals convicted of careless driving that results in death or bodily injury of a vulnerable highway user. These penalties include suspension of driving privileges and/or fines. Current law does not delineate penalties for careless driving around highway users who don’t have the benefit of safety protections inside a vehicle. Additionally, the legislation extends the protection of the four foot “buffer” that is currently required when passing bicyclists to all vulnerable highway users.
Miller sponsored similar legislation that passed in the House during the 2017-18 Legislative Session. The current bill, which passed in the House by a vote of 191-4, now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
Representative Brett Miller
41st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives