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New CT Law: Forceful Reminder of the Need to Yield

PHOTO: A new state law underscores the need for drivers in Connecticut to give right of way to those not in a vehicle. Photo courtesy of Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
PHOTO: A new state law underscores the need for drivers in Connecticut to give right of way to those not in a vehicle. Photo courtesy of Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
October 13, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. – It's a new law that underscores the need for local drivers to yield the right of way to those sharing Connecticut roads on bikes, using wheelchairs and on foot.

Careless drivers injure hundreds of people in the state each year, says Kelly Kennedy, executive director of Bike Walk Connecticut.

She says she hopes the new Vulnerable User law will get the state up to speed with neighboring states about the need to yield to non-motorized people who are sharing the road.

"When you travel to other New England states, cars will stop as you're even approaching the crosswalk,” she points out. “In Connecticut, we have the same laws, but motorists kind of treat pedestrians as if they don't belong there."

Kennedy says more than 10,000 pedestrians and cyclists were killed or injured on Connecticut roadways between 2006 and 2012.

She adds the new law took effect on Oct. 1 and recognizes the need to protect people who are on the roadways, but don't happen to be traveling in vehicles.

"And we need to watch out for them – so, the law imposes a fine of up to $1,000 for drivers who carelessly kill or injure a vulnerable user, which would be a pedestrian, a cyclist, a wheelchair user," she explains.

Kennedy points out that the fine cannot make up for the harm careless drivers do, but it can help educate the public to be more vigilant.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, 23 other states have some version of a Vulnerable User law.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT