Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Local News

June 9, 2009

'Safe Passing' law awaits Perry's signature

By Libby Cluett

lcluett@mineralwellsindex.com

Palo Pinto County roadways – frequently used by bicyclists, motorcycle riders and even horseback riders – could become safer if Gov. Rick Perry signs Senate Bill 488 into law.

What is known as the “Safe Passing Law” would require drivers of passenger and commercial vehicles throughout the state to give vulnerable road users – including construction workers, cyclists, motorcycles, scooters, pedestrians, runners, people whose vehicles have broken down, people riding horses and unprotected farm equipment – room when passing on any roadway.

The bill solidly passed the State Senate with a vote of 25-5 and overwhelmingly passed the Texas House with a vote of 140-5. It essentially requires motor vehicle drivers to pass safely, share the road and “exercise due care to avoid colliding with any vulnerable road user on a roadway or in an intersection.”

If SB 488 becomes law, drivers of vehicles would be required to:

• Vacate the lane in which the vulnerable road user is located if the highway has two or more marked lanes running in the same direction or pass at a safe distance – at least 3 feet from the vulnerable road user if the operator’s vehicle is a passenger car or light truck or 6 feet if the operator’s vehicle is a truck other than a light truck or a commercial vehicle.

• On left-hand turns, yield the right-of-way to a vulnerable

road user who is approaching from the opposite direction and is in the intersection or in such proximity to the intersection as to be an immediate hazard.

• Before a right-hand turn, not overtake a vulnerable road user traveling in the same direction and subsequently make a right-hand turn in front of the vulnerable road user unless the operator is safely clear of the vulnerable road user, taking into account the speed at which the vulnerable road user is traveling and the braking requirements of the vehicle making the right-hand turn.

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