In recent years, fatal pedestrian accidents have been on the rise in Connecticut. In response to the growing statistics, a Pedestrian Safety Bill was proposed in 2020 and passed in the State Senate after a round of revisions in May 2021. Governor Lamont officially signed off on House Bill 5429, set to take effect on October 1, 2021.
This piece of legislation enacts measures to ensure state roadways are safer for those traveling on foot or by bicycle. While towns would be able to set their own speed limits, the state will impose higher fines on motorists for speeding or driving distracted.
Here’s what Connecticut residents should know about House Bill 5429.
What Is the Pedestrian Safety Bill?
Passed with bipartisan approval in the Connecticut State Senate, the Pedestrian Safety Bill was proposed to address the increase in pedestrian fatalities over the past few years.
Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians can expect the following changes:
- Pedestrians no longer have to step into the road to signal they want to use a crosswalk. Drivers would be required to yield when pedestrians wave their hand from the sidewalk or side of the road.
- “Dooring”, the act of opening a car door as a cyclist or pedestrian approaches, would be prohibited to help reduce accidents.
- Motorists pulled over for distracted driving or speeding will face stiffer penalties.
How Did the Bill Come to Be?
According to a Governor’s Highway Association report, Connecticut saw a 20 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2017 to 2018. In 2020 alone, 65 pedestrians were killed on our roadways, up from 52 pedestrian fatalities and six cyclist deaths in 2019.
The Pedestrian Safety Bill strives to decrease these numbers by targeting traffic and road designs that create unsafe conditions for pedestrians. Among them are high speeds in the cities and lenient law enforcement that leads some drivers to believe they will not face punishment for traveling over the speed limit.
The Connecticut Post highlighted additional aspects that create dangerous conditions for pedestrians, including:
- Many Connecticut roads were designed like expressways, which don’t provide space for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Municipal roads pass through small towns and residential communities, resulting in high speed limits in areas where people walk or play outdoors.
- Lack of a dooring policy. Connecticut is one of only 10 states yet to institute one.
Common Risk Factors for Pedestrians
The rising number of pedestrian fatalities in Connecticut reflects national trends. According to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 6,205 pedestrians died in 2019 – that’s one person every 85 minutes.
Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to die in an accident than those traveling by car. While anyone can be the victim of a pedestrian accident, certain individuals are more vulnerable than others, including:
- Those under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Adults 65 and older
- Children under 15
- Those living in urban areas
The faster a car travels, the more likely a pedestrian accident will be fatal. These fatalities are more likely to occur in cities, while crossing outside of an intersection and at night.
Pedestrians can stay safe by using a crosswalk or intersection, staying visible and eliminating distractions that could impede your judgement as you cross the street.
Were you or a loved one struck by a reckless driver? Our pedestrian accident lawyers will fight for the compensation you deserve. To pursue a claim, contact Trantolo & Trantolo.