“Aaron Cohen Bill Signed at Last”
As a follow-up to a blog posted here last week, Governor Scott signed SB 102 today, one of the last bills still on his desk from the 2014 legislative session. This new law, also referred to as the “Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act,” will go a long way towards helping to reduce the incidence of all hit and run crashes of all types. However, what’s significant is that there will now be enhanced penalties for leaving the scene of a crash involving bicyclists and pedestrians.
It was a bittersweet moment for many of us that have been working on this legislation over the last year, but I think Patty Cohen, Aarons widow summed up best:
“The entire Cohen family and I are extremely thankful that Governor Scott will be signing the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act into law. We are hopeful that out of our family’s tragedy, we have made a big step towards safer roads and a safer community for our children. While nothing will bring Aaron back, it gives us comfort to know that the change we have made may prevent other families from suffering as ours did. We are incredibly honored to have this very important law in his name.”
Mickey Witte, a triathlete, and founder of the Aaron Cohen Law Initiative, helped put it into perspective for those of us out there on the road everyday:
“As a triathlete, I run and ride my bicycle often, so it’s obvious that I would have a vested interest in road safety. By signing the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act into law, the governor shows his support for something that signifies that as a society, we are sending the message that doing the right thing – staying on the scene when you’ve hit someone while driving – is something that we as Floridians do and encourage others to do in order to protect our community.”
And finally, Tim Bustos, FBA Executive Director, tried to summarize it for all of us:
“The Florida Bicycle Association is delighted that Governor Scott is signing SB 102, also known as the ‘Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act.’ For too long now, Florida has had one of the highest bicycle and pedestrian crash rates in the nation, and an inordinate number of these crashes involve motorists that leave the scene of a crash without rendering aid or assistance. We are hopeful this new legislation will act as a deterrent for motorists who may otherwise leave the scene after causing a crash, and will act as an incentive to stay at the scene. We would like to thank Governor Scott for realizing the significance of this bill by signing it. We would also like to thank Senator Diaz de la Portilla for introducing this bill in the Senate, and Representative Nelson for shepherding the companion bill through the House. Not only will this bill help to dramatically improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, it will also improve the safety for all road users.”
Many thanks to everybody that contributed to this effort, but I especially want to thank Patty Cohen for having the strength to work through this bill, and Mickey Witte, the powerhouse that led the charge on behalf of the Aaron Cohen Law Initiative.
Please contact the Florida Bicycle Association if you have any questions about this bill in specific, or anything else about our legislative priorities.