A Law Career

Share The Streets: Understand Florida's Vulnerable Road User Law

by Ruby Mckinney

Thanks to Florida Statute 316.027(b), also known as the "Vulnerable Road User Law," drivers may face increased penalties if they hit a pedestrian or other at-risk users of the roadways.

Here's what drivers in Florida should know:

The vulnerable road user law

This Florida statute was passed into law in 2015 at the urging of bicyclists and others who share the streets and highways with standard vehicular traffic. The goal of the law is to lower the number of fatalities on Florida's roads.

Drivers who have a collision with a vulnerable road user must stop and remain on the scene to show identification if requested and to render reasonable aid. Failure to stop after hitting a vulnerable road user is a felony under the statute.

The law provides for additional penalties including loss of driving privileges, mandatory driver education and/or community service in a trauma center or hospital known to receive a high number of accident victims. Mandatory minimum sentences may apply if a driver was under the influence when the accident occurred.

Share the road with workers and walkers

A vulnerable road user is the pedestrian, mother with stroller, or bicyclist on a city street. Pay attention in crowded urban areas for people who are crossing the road or exiting their parked vehicles.

Highway construction crews, utility workers and tow truck operators are also vulnerable road users. When driving through work zones or near stopped delivery trucks, ambulances and utility trucks, slow down and watch for workers who may be busy around their vehicles.

In farming and rural areas of Florida, be courteous and share the road with tractor drivers, horse-drawn buggies and people riding on horseback. These are also considered vulnerable road users.

Courts have discretion in interpreting the law

There will be wide debate in courtrooms across Florida concerning the status of vulnerable users as the new law is tested. Convicted drivers are being sentenced under the statute, but some cases are not so easy to sort out.

In one case, the defense has argued that an alleged victim was jaywalking and under the influence of an illegal substance at the time of their accident. It remains to be seen how much these factors will influence cases in the future.

In another case, no driver has been charged because an adult guardian was found to be negligent. A lack of parental supervision was suspected as the child's primary cause of death. Now that an investigation has ruled out negligence, Florida may re-open its investigation into the driver's part in the vulnerable child's fatal accident.

Remember to share the road, drive the speed limit and keep your eyes open for vulnerable road users. If you are involved in any moving accidents or collisions, contact a personal injury or accident attorney as soon as possible to protect yourself. Need more info about local attorneys, you can check it out on local websites.