We have previously covered the proposed harsher penalties for careless drivers who kill or inflict serious injuries on bicyclists and pedestrians. At yesterday’s Minnesota Bicycle Summit, many participants spoke to their legislators to support the bills, SF201 and HF68.
Senate File 201 will be heard in the Minnesota Senate Judiciary & Public Safety Committee today, March 1, at 1:00PM. The hearing will take place in Room 15 at the Capitol.
Minnesota cyclists and pedestrians (which means EVERYONE, because even if you’re in a wheelchair you count under pedestrian laws) are encouraged to contact their state senator to encourage passage of this measure. The measure steps up the penalty for careless driving that results in injury or death from a misdemeanor (up to $1,000 fine/90 days in jail) to a gross misdemeanor (up to $3,000 fine/365 days in jail).
I’ve discussed how to contact your legislators before, but here’s a review:
- Figure out who your state senator is via the state web site, if you don’t know already.
- Write a brief message referencing the bill at hand (SF201 in this case!).
- Be direct and ask your senator to support it, and why you think it important.
- Thank them for considering your position.
- Include your name and postal address/zip code, regardless of if you’re sending e-mail or a postal letter, as it helps establish your constituent cred.
- Send it — e-mail is quickest in the modern age.
Calling your senator’s office is also an option for expressing your support of this bill and asking for your senator’s similar support. This bill is revenue-neutral, and offers a common-sense enhancement of penalties to those who do harm to vulnerable road users via careless behavior. Thankfully, Minnesota is not a state that allows the defense “I didn’t see them” as a release from all charges of negligence, but current penalties are toothless compared to the damage a driver can do to a bicyclists or pedestrian. Distracted driving is only increasing as cars acquire more and more new electronic features.
Contact your senator today to request support for this bill!
Photo by Teresa Boardman, via Flickr/Creative Commons