AUSTIN, TX – Texas lawmakers are aiming to pass legislation this spring that would charge motorists with a misdemeanor offense if they don't give cyclists at least three feet passing clearance in most circumstances, according to The Houston Chronicle. Commercial vehicles and large trucks would be required to give bicyclists and other vulnerable road users at least six feet of passing clearance.
The Safe Passing Bill (SB 488) also would ban the "right hook," a dangerous turn made in front of a vulnerable road user - including cyclists, pedestrians, runners, motorcyclists, and construction workers. Violations could result in a $500 fine, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Accidents resulting in injury could subject motorists to a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Fifty Texas bicycle riders were killed and 274 suffered incapacitating injuries last year, according to a preliminary Texas Department of Transportation report.
The Senate already has approved the bill, which is awaiting House action before it goes to the governor to be signed into law, according to The Houston Chronicle. Similar bills to make motorists more responsible for protecting vulnerable road users have stalled in the Legislature since 2003.