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New Law To Put Tougher Penalties On Bike Accidents

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Some high-profile bike accidents have led to the passage of a law by the legislature.

While, as Mike Schuh reports, enforcement doesn't begin until the fall, relief has already arrived.

No charges were filed in a downtown cycling death. The motorist who ran over Larry Bensky paid a fine and got three points on her license.

A Hopkins cyclist is still in a coma after being run over by an 83-year-old woman. She got two traffic citations.

With those incidents in mind, the legislature changed the law.

A negligent driver could face manslaughter charges, a $5,000 fine and three years in jail.

Mark Hachey was on a lunchtime ride Wednesday. He's in favor of the changes.

"I would hope that a more severe penalty for a car hitting a bike would make drivers more aware of cyclists out there," Hachey said. "The question is whether it will make a difference."

The change could help survivors in civil courts when they sue drivers for damages. If a driver pleads guilty under the new law, it will make it much easier for the family to win a civil case.

Cyclists welcome the change, but knowledge of the consequences might not be widely known until the next tragedy.

"Once it gets put into the news, unfortunately it's going to take a couple of people getting hit before you realize how serious it is," said Tom Brown, Princeton Sports.

The new law goes into effect on Oct. 1.

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