If asked when new state laws take effect, most of us would guess January 1, as it marks the official start of a new calendar year. While this is a very good — and highly accurate — guess, this year has proven to be something of an anomaly.
Indeed, Governor John Kasich signed a flurry of bills back in December that actually took effect earlier this week. What makes this even more interesting, however, is that at least two of these measures, unbeknownst to most people, deal directly with traffic safety laws.
Bicycles and the three-foot buffer
Ohio has officially joined the ranks of 27 other states in enacting legislation mandating that motorists leave at least three feet of space when passing bicyclists, with violators facing a minor misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $150.
This represents something of a departure from existing law, which merely required motorists to maintain a safe passing distance.
For those who might question the wisdom of this move, consider that there were 282 vehicle-bicycle crashes reported in Cuyahoga County in 2016, resulting in 238 injuries.
Running red lights
One of the more bizarre laws to take effect this week provides that motorists can legally drive through red lights provided certain conditions are present: They must first come to a complete stop and they must believe the light is malfunctioning.
In the event of a car accident caused by the motorist proceeding through a red light, they will have the burden of demonstrating that the light was indeed malfunctioning. If they are unable to do so, they will be considered at-fault.
It’s worth noting that both traffic safety experts and law enforcement officials have expressed concerns over the wisdom of this new law.
It will be interesting to see how motorists react to these new laws.
In the meantime, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident caused by the reckless actions of another driver, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options for pursuing justice.