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Bill Gives Pedestrians, Bicyclists Special Designation

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - Bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders and people driving horse-drawn carriages would be among those receiving a new designation while on the road, under a measure filed in the Florida Legislature.

Bills (SB 1312 and HB 1159) by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, would impose a second-degree misdemeanor charge on any motorist who commits a moving violation that causes serious bodily harm to a "vulnerable road user." The designation would go to pedestrians, including people engaged in work on highways, and people lawfully on the road riding bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds or animals, or operating farm equipment, skateboards, in-line skates, horse-drawn carriages, electric personal-assistive mobility devices or wheelchairs.

The penalty would grow to a first-degree misdemeanor, with the potential loss of a motorist's driver's license for at least one year, if a "vulnerable road user" dies. The penalties wouldn't replace other charges motorists could face.

The proposal already has support from the motorcyclists-rights organization ABATE (American Bikers Aim toward Education) of Florida.

The measure is separate from the "Aaron Cohen" Hit-and-Run Act (SB 102 and HB 183), which has already started to move in the Legislature. That measure would make it a second-degree felony --- rather than a third-degree felony --- and carry the potential revocation of a driver's license for a motorist who fails to remain at the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injuries. A motorist would face a minimum of four years in jail for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in the death of a person.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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