New law creates fines for distracted driving, designed to make streets safer for pedestrians and bikers

Politics

(WTNH) – It’s a nice day to go for a walk or a bike ride, and a new law is now in effect that is designed to make the streets safer for pedestrians and bikers.

Everybody knows you are supposed to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, but under the old state law, you had to actually step off the curb and into traffic to get cars to stop. That has changed, and it is one of many things that have changed under a new law called vision zero.

Last year, 65 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in Connecticut. That’s up 20 percent from the year before. When it comes to crosswalks, Westport resident Joan Miller sees the problem all the time.

“Car stops. Car behind the car speeds up, comes around, cuts us off in the crosswalk. Scary,” Miller remembered.

“Particularly in contrasted areas like this one and in our cities, we’ve seen an increase in pedestrian fatalities and injuries,” said Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz (D – Connecticut).

The Lieutenant Governor and others are celebrating a new law, now in effect, designed to change that. The concept is called Vision Zero – a vision of zero pedestrian and bicycle fatalities.

The law increases fines for distracted driving. It gives local officials a bigger say in determining speed limits on local roads. It creates a council to look at other changes to increase pedestrian safety. And it outlaws one of the biggest threats to bicyclists.

“It bans doorings so that those who are riding a bicycle can be sure that they’re not going to be surprised by somebody opening up their passenger or driver’s side door,” said State Sen. Will Haskell (D – Westport).

As for the new crosswalk law, you can now stay on the curb, just wave your arm signaling you want to cross, and that’s when cars have to stop.

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