'Vulnerable roadway status' would up penalties for drivers who hit pedestrian or bicyclist
Michigan drivers who hit a pedestrian, bicyclist or person in a wheelchair could face years in prison -- even if the victim is not seriously injured.
According to a state police report, 178 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in Michigan in 2012; almost 4,400 were hurt in traffic accidents.
State Rep. Ed McBroom, who represents three Upper Peninsula counties, says his proposal would expand the state's existing law to cover what's called "vulnerable roadway users."
"Folks on bicycles deserve the same protections we're giving to farmers and other folks -- you know, road construction workers," McBroom says.
The sponsor of a companion bill, State Rep. David Nathan of Detroit, says everybody needs to do a better job of sharing the road. But he says when it comes to motor vehicle versus human being, it's no contest.
"Making the penalties tougher should reduce the amount of injuries and accidents we have because it will make people pay attention more."
The bills call for a range of punishments, ranging from misdemeanor jail time and fines to up to 15 years in prison for a hit-and-run driver who kills a pedestrian, bicyclist or wheelchair user.