What will the proposed MO highway safety law do for cyclists? (Part 1)

MoBikeFed has been working with members of the Missouri General Assembly to pass legislation making Missouri roads safer for bicycling, walking, and driving.

What will the new law do for you?

The new law creates tougher penalties for people whose bad and dangerous driving injures or kills. Let’s face it--one reason people drive dangerously is because they know they can get away with it. Under the new law, they won’t. This law makes recklessly or knowingly injuring or killing with an automobile a criminal offence. Common-sense standards allow these provisions to be applied against drivers who habitually or knowingly drive dangerously or illegally, when their dangerous driving causes injury or death.

At the same time, poor drivers will be required to take a driving class demonstrated to be effective in making them safer and more responsible.

Examples of consequences under old and new laws:
  • A woman sped through a School Zone, illegally changed lanes to pass other cars stopped at a crosswalk, and then ran over UMKC student Pei Chen in a crosswalk, killing her.

    OLD LAW: Misdemeanor charge, a slap on the wrist. 4 driver’s license points (same as driving through a stop sign twice).
    NEW LAW: 2nd degree involuntary manslaughter, a felony. Automatic 2 year license revocation (possibly longer). No "limited driving" allowed during revocation period. Required driver’s ed course, targeted at improving aggressive drivers, before driving again.

  • A bus driver drove through a crosswalk while turning through an intersection. The bus struck Susie Stephens, who was crossing in the crosswalk, knocking her under the rear wheels of the bus and crushing her to death.
    OLD LAW: Failure to yield, $500 fine. 4 driver’s license points.
    NEW LAW: 2nd degree involuntary manslaughter, a felony. Automatic 2 year license revocation (possibly longer). No "limited driving" allowed during revocation period. Required, driver’s ed course, including specific bike/ped education, before driving again.

  • A man was fumbling around trying to find something on the floor of his pickup when he drove off onto the shoulder of a road on a bright, clear, sunny day when he rammed into and killed bicyclist Michael Brady, who was riding on the wide shoulder. Shoemaker had 19 convictions for speeding and other driving violations between 1986 and 1999.
    OLD LAW: 1 year suspended sentence, 2 years probation. License revoked for one year. Driving school required. (Much of this not required, but at judge’s discretion.)
    NEW LAW: 1st degree involuntary manslaughter, a felony. Previous driving record allowed in court to help show recklessness of actions. 7- or 13-year license revocation. Required, tough, driver’s ed course before driving again.
A one-page summary of the law is here, and a two-page summary here. A summary of how the law would help motorcyclists is here.