When the driver of a car or another motor vehicle hits a bike rider, they may not face any serious legal penalties. If the accident occurs during a commonplace traffic violation, such as speeding or driving while distracted by texting, the motorist may face some minor penalties related to the traffic law violation but not necessarily anything more; this is true even if the bike rider is harmed during the accident.
Bike riders and other vulnerable individuals on the road, such as pedestrians and people who use roller skates, scooters, or skateboards, face the prospect of serious injuries even during a relatively minor collision. When involved in a collision with a motor vehicle, they face the higher risk of bodily harm. Would making changes to the law bring down the rate of such accidents?
Possible changes to the law
Some California legislators and public advocates for vulnerable road users are interested in changing the law to introduce steeper penalties for motorists who injure bike riders and other vulnerable road users while violating traffic laws. One bill lays out significantly higher fines for motorists and an additional point added to their driver’s record. Other proposed measures by advocacy groups include license suspension and even some jail time.
The thinking goes that by enacting these laws, motorists will have even more incentive to be mindful of traffic laws and careful around vulnerable road users. However, whether the penalties will be strong enough to actually serve as a deterrent remains to be seen; at this point, we don’t know yet if the bill will even become law and, if it does, how it will be amended along the way.
Even if such a law does pass and hopefully reduce the rate of bicycle accidents and other collisions involving vulnerable road users, individuals involved in those accidents will still be struggling with medical bills and other financial losses after a crash. Regardless of what criminal or administrative penalties a motorist may face, it’s important for bike riders and other vulnerable road users to contact a reputable attorney. An experienced attorney will assist you not only with insurance difficulties but also in a possible civil action against a motorist who is responsible for a collision.