Protecting the Vulnerable User – LB38

Today at 1:30pmCST, LB 38 will be heard in committee. The bill makes changes to existing statutes, defining what constitutes a vulnerable user and proscribing the penalties involved in causing the homicidal death of such users.

I applaud the introduction of this bill as we hear too often of the slap on the wrist usually given to the motorists whose sole excuse is “I didn’t see them.” In operating a machine with a mass of over one ton, the responsibility must be on the driver to do all he/she can to prevent the other users from coming to harm.

I urge you to write to the committee chair, Sen. Les Seiler, at lseiler@leg.ne.gov and urge passage of this bill. Please include your name & address, and ask him to include your comments for the record. Below is the content of the email I sent. Use it ONLY for ideas (don’t copy and paste) as we don’t want to make it look like a form letter.

“Dear Senator Seiler et al.:

Given a choice, I will often choose to walk or bicycle for most of my errands and trips around town. It is more convenient, ofttimes quicker, and allows me a productive way to maintain my health. Unfortunately, it puts me into the “vulnerable” category of road users.

Nationwide, we hear stories on a regular basis of motorists who cause injury or death to pedestrians and cyclists. In nearly all instances, the excuse given by the motorist is “I didn’t see them.” In many (if not most) jurisdictions, these are treated as misdemeanors and punished with token fines. This fails to deter drivers from behavior that potentially will cause a family to lose a father, mother, son or daughter, and leaves the community feeling that justice was not served.

While I applaud LB38 and the changes it makes to the statutes to protect the vulnerable user, I do have one or two suggestions to make. First, I’m a believer that education goes a long way toward prevention. In those circumstances where community service is proscribed, perhaps part of that service could be a mandated successful completion of an education/re-education class regarding the responsibilities of motorists toward vulnerable users. Further, that another portion be relating his/her experience to drivers enducation classes.

Perhaps it doesn’t belong in this bill, but a requirement of education for law enforcement regarding vulnerable users could also be beneficial. If such requirement already exists, I’m not aware of it.

Finally, please accept my thanks for putting this bill forward. Along with LB39, I feel that there are members within the legislative body who understand the needs of the multimodal transport community.”

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