Holding drivers responsible

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Kerry Nikolaise, Aug 28, 2003.

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  1. Interesting verdict in the "trial" of a woman who fell asleep at the wheel and killed a cyclist on a
    bike path (not lane).

    http://www.mobikefed.org/2003_08_01_newsarchive.html#106203831006349883

    I suppose it is no different than the slap-on-the hand verdict for the man who killed all those in
    the marketplace in CA and the one in Florida who injured all the cyclists.

    States need to be more aggressive about prosecuting careless drivers. They sure would if you replace
    an auto with a handgun.

    Kerry
     
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  2. Hunrobe

    Hunrobe Guest

    >Kerry Nikolaisen [email protected]

    wrote:

    >Interesting verdict in the "trial" of a woman who fell asleep at the wheel and killed a cyclist on
    >a bike path (not lane).
    >
    >http://www.mobikefed.org/2003_08_01_newsarchive.html#106203831006349883
    >
    >I suppose it is no different than the slap-on-the hand verdict for the man who killed all those in
    >the marketplace in CA and the one in Florida who injured all the cyclists.
    >
    >States need to be more aggressive about prosecuting careless drivers. They sure would if you
    >replace an auto with a handgun.
    >
    >Kerry

    The linked news article says it was a "bike path". Missouri Bicycle Federation calls it a "bike
    lane". Since the driver was charged with improper lane usage as opposed to driving off the roadway,
    I choose to accept the MBF's version. Having said that, how do you think a 52 yr old woman with no
    history of criminal behavior or bad driving *should* be punished? Remember, whatever sentence you
    would impose will serve as a baseline for other drivers. That doesn't just mean, "It could happen
    to you". It *also* means, "If you send this 52 yr old woman to prison then what do you do to a
    20something driver that strikes and kills two people while changing CDs and how does *that*
    sentence compare to the sentence of someone that intentionally causes serious bodily harm or death
    to another?"

    Regards, Bob Hunt
     
  3. Pete

    Pete Guest

    "Hunrobe" <[email protected]> wrote
    >
    > The linked news article says it was a "bike path". Missouri Bicycle
    Federation
    > calls it a "bike lane". Since the driver was charged with improper lane
    usage
    > as opposed to driving off the roadway, I choose to accept the MBF's
    version.
    > Having said that, how do you think a 52 yr old woman with no history of criminal behavior or bad
    > driving *should* be punished?

    1. A fine. (more than a token $500)
    2. Suspension of driving for 1 year
    3. A comprehensive driving school at the end of the suspension

    It is far too easy for negligent drivers to continue driving legally. A DUI frequently results in
    'banned, except for driving to-from work or school". IMHO, thats far too lenient. Too bad if you
    have to find an alternate way to work.

    Penalties are not only to punsh the offender, but also as a deterrent to other people.

    Any crash which results in a death should result in a ban from driving for min 1 year. Circumstances
    may warrant a far longer, or permanent, ban.

    Pete
     
  4. Matthew

    Matthew Guest

    "Kerry Nikolaisen" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Interesting verdict in the "trial" of a woman who fell asleep at the wheel and killed a cyclist on
    > a bike path (not lane).
    >
    > http://www.mobikefed.org/2003_08_01_newsarchive.html#106203831006349883
    >
    > I suppose it is no different than the slap-on-the hand verdict for the man who killed all those in
    > the marketplace in CA and the one in Florida who injured all the cyclists.
    >
    > States need to be more aggressive about prosecuting careless drivers. They sure would if you
    > replace an auto with a handgun.
    >
    > Kerry
    >

    I'm sure the punishment will be greater in the sure-to-be impending civil wrongful death trial.
     
  5. In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...

    >The linked news article says it was a "bike path". Missouri Bicycle Federation calls it a "bike
    >lane". Since the driver was charged with improper lane usage as opposed to driving off the roadway,
    >I choose to accept the MBF's version. Having said that, how do you think a 52 yr old woman with no
    >history of criminal behavior or bad driving *should* be punished? Remember, whatever sentence you
    >would impose will serve as a baseline for other drivers. That doesn't just mean, "It could happen
    >to you". It *also* means, "If you send
    this
    >52 yr old woman to prison then what do you do to a 20something driver that strikes and kills two
    >people while changing CDs and how does *that* sentence compare to the sentence of someone that
    >intentionally causes serious bodily harm or death to another?"

    She should lose her license for some time too. She made a really stupid decision. She chose to
    drive even though she was tired. It was her choice to continue to drive. It is similar the the
    choice a drunk person makes when they get behind the wheel. For that reason, they should get a
    similar sentence.
    -----------------
    Alex __O _-\<,_ (_)/ (_)
     
  6. Paul Bielec

    Paul Bielec Guest

    > It is far too easy for negligent drivers to continue driving legally. A
    DUI
    > frequently results in 'banned, except for driving to-from work or school". IMHO, thats far too
    > lenient. Too bad if you have to find an alternate way
    to
    > work.

    Here in Quebec, a DUI gets you a criminal record. On the other hand, as I was waiting as a witness
    in a criminal court, I've seen some cases before the one I was there was heard. For example, a guy
    driving 3 times over the legal limit had hi lawyer come up front (probably free lawyer since he was
    poor) saying that his client was poor and to consider that in the judgement...blah, blah, blah...the
    guy ended up with a criminal record, license suspension and less than 200$ fine. This is less than a
    speeding ticket!!!
     
  7. Hunrobe wrote:
    >>Kerry Nikolaisen [email protected]
    >
    >
    > wrote:
    >
    >
    >>Interesting verdict in the "trial" of a woman who fell asleep at the wheel and killed a cyclist on
    >>a bike path (not lane).
    >>
    >>http://www.mobikefed.org/2003_08_01_newsarchive.html#106203831006349883
    >>
    >>I suppose it is no different than the slap-on-the hand verdict for the man who killed all those in
    >>the marketplace in CA and the one in Florida who injured all the cyclists.
    >>
    >>States need to be more aggressive about prosecuting careless drivers. They sure would if you
    >>replace an auto with a handgun.
    >>
    >>Kerry
    >
    >
    > The linked news article says it was a "bike path". Missouri Bicycle Federation calls it a "bike
    > lane". Since the driver was charged with improper lane usage as opposed to driving off the
    > roadway, I choose to accept the MBF's version. Having said that, how do you think a 52 yr old
    > woman with no history of criminal behavior or bad driving *should* be punished? Remember, whatever
    > sentence you would impose will serve as a baseline for other drivers. That doesn't just mean, "It
    > could happen to you". It *also* means, "If you send this 52 yr old woman to prison then what do
    > you do to a 20something driver that strikes and kills two people while changing CDs and how does
    > *that* sentence compare to the sentence of someone that intentionally causes serious bodily harm
    > or death to another?"
    >
    > Regards, Bob Hunt
    >
    >
    Bob:

    In this discussion you can take the cyclist out of the equation. It doesn't matter if it was a
    pedestrian, scooter operator, skateboarder, buggy driver, etc.

    What needs to be addressed is holding the driver of a motor vehicle responsible for their actions.
    Whether that be falling asleep at the wheel, talking on the cell phone, etc.

    These are all PREVENTABLE circumstances. Now had the lady swerved to avoid hitting a deer, other
    motorist, etc, then I could accept the term ACCIDENT.

    We must get out of this mindset that loss of life based on irresponsible (yet preventable) actions
    is acceptable as long as we view it as accidental.

    Kerry
     
  8. Rick Warner

    Rick Warner Guest

    [email protected] (Hunrobe) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > >Kerry Nikolaisen [email protected]
    >
    .
    > Having said that, how do you think a 52 yr old woman with no history of criminal behavior or bad
    > driving *should* be punished?

    Correction; no *known* history of bad driving. A lot of bad and stupid driving goes unnoticed,
    uncaught, unpunished. For all we know this woman may have fallen asleep at the wheel dozens of
    times, but this was the first time there was an accident. Supposition, but your comment about 'no
    history' is really 'no recorded history'.

    That said, at some point 'accidents' are not accidents. Calling them such hides the fact that a lot
    of collisions are avoidable and result from people doing stupid things while wielding large weapons
    (a 2000 lb+ car is in fact a deadly weapon). We as a society have, to this point, decided that
    careless behavior in the wielding of this one specific type of weapon is socially acceptable. At
    some point perhaps the pendulum will shift and we will start making folks more responsible for their
    behavior. In one state, Utah, they started a campaign last year that involves, in part, dropping the
    use of the term 'accident' when referring to collisions. The argument is that most are not
    'accidents' but are the result of poor choices by drivers of vehicles. Changing the terminology
    will, IMHO, have little impact. But holding the drivers to a higher standard of conduct, with more
    appropriate punishments for improper use of deadly weapons could get the message across that driving
    is serious business and needs to be undertaken with a set of standard precautions. Do not drive if
    you did not get sufficient rest, do not take your attention away from the job to read the map,
    change the CD, dial a phone call, etc. If and only if there are penalties for these behaviors will
    the behavior of the masses start to change.

    - rick
     
  9. Pete

    Pete Guest

    "Hunrobe" <[email protected]> wrote
    >
    > I agree with you but the question still remains, what is the appropriate punishment? It's not
    > enough to simply say as some do, "Anyone involved in
    a
    > fatal car crash should lose their license for X amount of time." for two reasons. First, consider
    > the difference between the woman in this case and
    that
    > hypothetical 20something driver I mentioned. This defendant drives for a
    living
    > (bus driver). Suspending or revoking *her* license will deprive her of her
    job.

    If professional driving is her job, and she's careless or inattentive enough to cause a fatality,
    then maybe she *should* lose her job. If nothing else, for a review period. Give her a desk job.

    Or do you want a proven careless driver in charge of a bus everyday? How many crashes and fatalities
    should she cause before we *do* take her license away? 1, 2, 5?

    If it can be shown that it isn't her fault, then fine...Give her back the keys, and she can drive
    again tomorrow.

    > My hypothetical driver lives in an area with public transportation. For
    him,
    > losing his driving privileges is just an inconvenience. Second, and IMO
    more
    > important, the harsher the penalty the more likely the defendant will
    either
    > plead down to a lesser offense or walk away entirely with a not guilty
    verdict.
    > That's why investigating and prosecuting capital crimes are high stress occupations.

    I know what you're saying, but I have a hard time with the whole "plead down" thing. I know it
    happens all the time, (happened to me), but losing your driving priv does not necessarily need to be
    seen as "harsh".

    Pete
     
  10. Hunrobe wrote:
    >>Kerry Nikolaisen [email protected]
    >
    >
    > wrote:
    >
    >
    >>Bob:
    >>
    >>In this discussion you can take the cyclist out of the equation. It doesn't matter if it was a
    >>pedestrian, scooter operator, skateboarder, buggy driver, etc.
    >>
    >>What needs to be addressed is holding the driver of a motor vehicle responsible for their actions.
    >>Whether that be falling asleep at the wheel, talking on the cell phone, etc.
    >>
    >>These are all PREVENTABLE circumstances. Now had the lady swerved to avoid hitting a deer, other
    >>motorist, etc, then I could accept the term ACCIDENT.
    >>
    >>We must get out of this mindset that loss of life based on irresponsible (yet preventable) actions
    >>is acceptable as long as we view it as accidental.
    >>
    >>Kerry
    >
    >
    > I agree with you but the question still remains, what is the appropriate punishment? It's not
    > enough to simply say as some do, "Anyone involved in a fatal car crash should lose their license
    > for X amount of time." for two reasons. First, consider the difference between the woman in this
    > case and that hypothetical 20something driver I mentioned. This defendant drives for a living (bus
    > driver). Suspending or revoking *her* license will deprive her of her job. My hypothetical driver
    > lives in an area with public transportation. For him, losing his driving privileges is just an
    > inconvenience. Second, and IMO more important, the harsher the penalty the more likely the
    > defendant will either plead down to a lesser offense or walk away entirely with a not guilty
    > verdict. That's why investigating and prosecuting capital crimes are high stress occupations. You
    > have a valid point. Many times a driver *does* "get a pass". I just don't know if the case you
    > cited is necessarily one of those times.
    >
    > Regards, Bob Hunt
    I don't see it any different than if the lady got a DUI and there was or was not loss of life
    associated with it. The fact that she drives for a living is irrelevant. Perhaps she finds a
    different job within the school district. Which brings up a new point - would you want this woman to
    get her license back so that she could drive YOUR children to school?

    Kerry
     
  11. Cathy Kearns

    Cathy Kearns Guest

    "Hunrobe" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > >Kerry Nikolaisen [email protected]
    > First, consider the difference between the woman in this case and that hypothetical 20something
    > driver I mentioned. This defendant drives for a
    living
    > (bus driver). Suspending or revoking *her* license will deprive her of her
    job.

    When I was working as a bus driver, something like falling asleep at the wheel and running over some
    one would pretty much mean you lose your job anyway, and no one else would hire you to drive either
    with that on your record. So her driving career is over whether or not her license is revoked.
     
  12. Hunrobe wrote:
    >>Kerry Nikolaisen [email protected]
    >
    >
    > wrote:
    >
    >
    >>I don't see it any different than if the lady got a DUI and there was or was not loss of life
    >>associated with it.
    >
    >
    > ---snip----
    >
    > If you believe that then you should try to change the laws in your State to make all traffic
    > offenses equivalent to a DUI if there is a fatality involved and that is simply unworkable IMO.
    >
    >
    >>The fact that she drives for a
    >
    > living is irrelevant. Perhaps she finds a >different job within the school district.
    >
    > ---snip---
    >
    > We disagree. I think it's relevant because I believe the punishment should fit the crime. I don't
    > presume to know why you think it's irrelevant.
    >
    >
    >>Which brings up a new point - would you want this woman to get her license back so that she could
    >>drive YOUR children to school?
    >
    >
    > If she had an otherwise exemplary driving record, sure. All we know about this woman is that she
    > made one bad decision. I don't know anyone that hasn't. One bad decision (a bad decision, *not* a
    > decision to do bad) shouldn't automatically disqualify people from ever being trusted no matter
    > how tragic the consequences of that decision are.
    >
    > Regards, Bob Hunt
    People choose to drink beyond their legal limit, and drive. If pulled over by the police and
    prosecuted, some have their licenses suspended (some may be pleaded down). And this is even if no
    accidents or fatalities are involved. As you said, they made a bad decision. I think the punishment
    fits the crime. Especially when the original decision to drink, even though it was a bad one, is
    preventable.

    To me, if its preventable, the sentence should fit the crime. A traffic violation that causes no
    harm (speeding, running stop sign) should be considered a minor infraction (fine/points). If those
    violations involve accidents or fatalities, I think their severity should be increased because,
    again, they were preventable.

    Kerry

    When apprehended by the police, some of these pe
     
  13. Pete

    Pete Guest

    "Hunrobe" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > >"Pete" [email protected]
    >
    > wrote:
    >
    > >If professional driving is her job, and she's careless or inattentive
    enough
    > >to cause a fatality, then maybe she *should* lose her job. If nothing
    else,
    > >for a review period. Give her a desk job.
    >
    > ---snip---
    >
    > Again, I'm not saying it should *never* happen but do we have anywhere
    close to
    > enough information that it should happen in this case? Making any
    particular
    > punishment automatic in *every* case doesn't solve the problem of
    injustice. It
    > simply makes injustice more widespread.
    >

    I you're misunderstanding where I'm going with this.

    *If* a death occurs, and *if* the one or more of the drivers involved is found to be at fault
    (negligence, carelessness, malice), then yes... part of the mandatory sentencing should be license
    revocation for a period of time, along with whatever else the court has deemed necessary.

    It seems too easy to get and keep your license in this country.

    Driving is not a right, even if it is your job. It has been partly responsible for what this country
    is today (whether you see that as good or bad). And it has driven a lot of the economy for the last
    100 years. But aside from the 'inconvienience' of repairs and higher insurance...a crash, especially
    due to carelessness, is seen as 'oh...not too bad'. Yes, this woman will live with the results of
    this for the rest of her life. But the victim, due to her carelessness....well...

    Maybe we can influence someone else to not drive when they are tired enough to nod off. If part of
    the penalty is "You cannot drive for a year if you "accidentally" kill someone....maybe someone will
    stop and think first.

    And no one is inconvienciened unless they kill someone.

    Does part of the normal sentencing of a rapist include jail time? Yes. Maybe part of the normal
    sentencing of a guilty driver should include suspension/revocation.

    Pete

    Pete
     
  14. Chris Neary

    Chris Neary Guest

    In many cases the civil suits involved with such accidents have the capacity to completely ruin the
    individual financially.

    Unfortunately these trials don't get the publicity of criminal charges.

    Chris Neary [email protected]

    "Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Bicycling combined all the
    elements I loved" - Adapted from a quotation by Charles Lindbergh
     
  15. On 28 Aug 2003 13:59:30 GMT in rec.bicycles.misc, [email protected] (Hunrobe) wrote:

    > Having said that, how do you think a 52 yr old woman with no history of criminal behavior or bad
    > driving *should* be punished?

    if she had shot the victim with a firearm she would be going to prison for a loooong time. a car
    is a lethal weapon, too, but somehow if you kill someone with it, it's not as bad as with a gun?
    gimme a break.

    the perp should have got some prison time for her negligence, lost her license for life, and mother
    should sue her for every penny for the granddaughter.
     
  16. On 28 Aug 2003 23:36:21 GMT in rec.bicycles.misc, [email protected] (Hunrobe) wrote:

    > This defendant drives for a living (bus driver). Suspending or revoking *her* license will deprive
    > her of her job.

    all the MORE reason to keep her off the road! she has demonstrated that she is NOT a responsible
    driver! you don't just "suddenly" fall asleep at the wheel. driving while drowsy is as bad as
    driving while drunk; it's driving while impaired.
     
  17. On 29 Aug 2003 02:50:40 GMT in rec.bicycles.misc, [email protected] (Hunrobe) wrote:

    > I think it's relevant because I believe the punishment should fit the crime.

    she killed someone WHILE DRIVING. therefore, stopping her from driving a bus full of children makes
    perfect sense to me.
     
  18. On Fri, 29 Aug 2003 01:06:19 GMT in rec.bicycles.misc, "Cathy Kearns"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    > When I was working as a bus driver, something like falling asleep at the wheel and running over
    > some one would pretty much mean you lose your job anyway, and no one else would hire you to drive
    > either with that on your record. So her driving career is over whether or not her license is
    > revoked.
    >
    according to the local newspaper forum discussion, she is driving a school bus this week! i find
    that absolutely appalling.
     
  19. On Fri, 29 Aug 2003 03:13:43 GMT, Kerry Nikolaisen <[email protected]> wrote:

    >People choose to drink beyond their legal limit, and drive. If pulled over by the police and
    >prosecuted, some have their licenses suspended (some may be pleaded down). And this is even if no
    >accidents or fatalities are involved. As you said, they made a bad decision. I think the punishment
    >fits the crime. Especially when the original decision to drink, even though it was a bad one, is
    >preventable.

    I think the first infraction should be the last. Any subsequent travel should be as passenger or
    pedestrian.

    Any recidivism in drunk driving should be punished by the miscreant having its eyes put out so that
    it cannot drive at all.
     
  20. Rick Warner

    Rick Warner Guest

    [email protected] (Hunrobe) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > >[email protected] (Rick Warner)
    >
    > wrote:
    >

    > I thought the discussion was about the legal aspects of the case. "Unrecorded history" doesn't
    > exist in any courtroom save a kangaroo court.

    Last I knew we were not in a courtroom, kangaroo or otherwise. Your point is, well, pointless
    because the discussion was not about the legal aspects of the case (that has been determined) but
    about the 'what-if' aspects. And 'unrecorded history' can have a bearing on a case in a courtroom;
    verbal accounts of past incidents, none appearing in any legal record, will play a large part in the
    case against the gentleman who ran his car through the Santa Monica farmer's market.

    > If you want to talk about semantics though, a vehicle- a car, truck, bicycle, or even a
    > skateboard- is a vehicle, not a "weapon" and using the term

    Actually, motor vehicles are referred to as weapons quite regularly by law enforcement these days. I
    could dig up articles on at least 3 or 4 police shootings of individuals in the past month in this
    region with the justification that it was self defense as the person they shot was wielding a weapon
    - a motor vehicle. Having been unjustly struck on 3 occasions by motor vehicles while travelling in
    bicycle lanes, I believe that they are weapons when not used properly, and a driver falling asleep
    at the wheel, or moving across the lane when changing CD's, etc., make the vehicle a weapon.

    - rick
     
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