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  1. #1
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    Are motorists that kill cyclists prosecuted in your area?

    This week we had a tragedy in our area. A very special and dedicated cyclist, a lady that was elgible for this forum, was killed by a motorist that ran a red light. She was not only a cyclist, but a strong and active member of many cycling organizations that promote safe and fun cycling.

    Witnesses are very clear that the motorist ran the light with other cars stopped for the light. The witnesses said the cyclist was crossing the intersection on green.

    With all this in mind this is difficult because I actually know the motorist, a lady that would be even more elgible for this forum than the victim. I have always known her as a kind and caring person.

    In this area there is a very nominal amount of energy from the state and local governments to prosecute motorists that kill cyclists. I doubt there is a good path for the city or state to take in this case, but at some point a strong stand is needed.

    Do officials in other areas agressively prosecute drivers that kill cyclists?
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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    We have had two riders killed this month.
    One was a hit an run.
    The other no charges filed.

    Sad
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  3. #3
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    Very sorry to hear that.

    Quote Originally Posted by BikeArkansas View Post
    Do officials in other areas agressively prosecute drivers that kill cyclists?
    We've had a couple of prosecutions in Washington state in the past year that I can recall:

    - Young man (20-ish) who hit and killed a popular Vancouver, Wa., high school teacher about a year ago. The driver was texting his girlfriend. Driver struck a plea bargain, got a jail sentence, I think.

    - Truck driver (delivery man?) who hit and killed a bike tourist in Southwest Washington (last summer?). The cyclists were from out of state; I think they were following one of the Adventure Cycling Association routes near the coast. Case went to trial; I think he got some jail time.

    - Driver who hit and killed a cyclist while on a training ride in Seattle. Driver charged, I don't think it's been to trial.

    Lots more fatalities that I can recall have *not* been prosecuted; in some cases the fault was murky/not clearly established. I would not call the prosecutions "aggressive."
    Last edited by BengeBoy; 06-23-10 at 10:54 PM.

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    Generally around here it's regarded as an unfortunate accident, one of those things that "just happens." There's usually an investigation (don't know how thorough), and unless there's a really glaring instance of negligence, DUI or something, the driver might get a ticket or a few hours of community service. We have a lot of cyclists, but the community is still pretty wired into the idea that the roads belong to cars.
    Also, Nevada's incidence of a-holes is substantially higher than the national average.

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    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    There was a DUI fatality during one of the triathelons last year. The perp got the slammer.

  6. #6
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
    There was a DUI fatality during one of the triathelons last year. The perp got the slammer.
    Thanks to the efforts of MADD and the fact that one can quantitatively compare BAC against a legal limit, DUI motorists do tend to get prosecuted. Anti-DUI crusading DAs, such as New York's Kathleen Rice, help this cause, as well. What we need now is to prosecute distracted motorists aggressively, but our society still lacks the political will to do so. I hope Ray LaHood's "Focus Driven" campaign against texting and yakking on the cell phone while driving will help build a groundswell of public opinion.
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    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Our local DA is not regarded highly by our cycling community, especially when a motorist almost got away with basically a slap on the wrist a couple of years ago for killing a cyclist in a glaring and obvious case of inattentive driving. Thankfully, our deputy DA stepped in, and the motorist is now spending a year in the county jail.

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    Don't know but I sure would like to see some kind of mandatory jail time for this type of incident. Maybe just maybe with a mandatory stint in the slam, drivers would start taking better care of their actions.

    We have an incident where a guy was killed in broad daylight while commuting. From the press it seems that the pickup truck just ran the guy down. Intent? Don't know if there were witnesses or not. Here in PA our motor law requires a 5 foot clearance when passing bikes. I would bet a $1000 that no driver has ever been charged with the violation.

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    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    I was also surprised by the lack of news coverage of this event. I did a search on the web and found no stories from the Democrat Gazette or any local TV stations. Though I did see a short TV piece about an accident between two cars where neither driver was hospitalized.
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    Washington state is terrible (as are most states) with pursuing deaths to peds or bicyclists by drivers. We had one near here a couple of summers ago, where the driver was driving with a suspended license and didn't get a ticket for killing a bicyclist. He did get a ticket for driving with a suspended license. They could at least take away their license to drive forever. Let's make driving with a suspended license a serious crime, it is a willing crime with intent after all.

  11. #11
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    I was also surprised by the lack of news coverage of this event. I did a search on the web and found no stories from the Democrat Gazette or any local TV stations. Though I did see a short TV piece about an accident between two cars where neither driver was hospitalized.
    I also noted the lack of coverage for this horrible event. It is odd about the coverage of a non-event accident when a cyclist was killed with very little coverage. I saw that article and became a bit miffed by it.

    The intersection where this incident occurred is one of the busiest in the area for cyclists. It is not as if a bicycle is never encountered there. I almost wish the driver would have been a DUI instead of a very nice 64 year old woman with her grandkids in the car. Distracted driving is probably the cause.
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    Are motorists that kill other Motorists prosecuted in your area? Is there a difference?

  13. #13
    Pat
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    I recall a local case where a cyclist was off of the road and off of the shoulder on a break. There is an ramp off of a four lane road onto this one. The driver came down the ramp, took the corner too fast. Plowed into the "cyclist" with fatal results. The guy was late for church. He did not even get a traffic citation. It was felt that he has "suffered enough". I guess he was contrite.

    Heck, I was hit head on by a driver who decided to drive on the wrong side of the road before making a left hand turn into a parking lot. A ticket was written but he got off on a technicality. He was a traffic safety instructor.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeArkansas View Post
    This week we had a tragedy in our area. A very special and dedicated cyclist, a lady that was elgible for this forum, was killed by a motorist that ran a red light. She was not only a cyclist, but a strong and active member of many cycling organizations that promote safe and fun cycling.

    Witnesses are very clear that the motorist ran the light with other cars stopped for the light. The witnesses said the cyclist was crossing the intersection on green.

    With all this in mind this is difficult because I actually know the motorist, a lady that would be even more elgible for this forum than the victim. I have always known her as a kind and caring person.

    In this area there is a very nominal amount of energy from the state and local governments to prosecute motorists that kill cyclists. I doubt there is a good path for the city or state to take in this case, but at some point a strong stand is needed.

    Do officials in other areas agressively prosecute drivers that kill cyclists?
    We should also be asking about "motorists that kill pedestrians" and "motorists that kill other motorists." It seems to me that prosecution of those cases should be just as aggressive and energetic.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    We should also be asking about "motorists that kill pedestrians" and "motorists that kill other motorists." It seems to me that prosecution of those cases should be just as aggressive and energetic.
    And how about when cyclists kill pedestrians?

    We a had a very, very sad case here in Seattle recently of a cyclist who killed a pedestrian. He (an experienced 50+ cyclist) was riding on a popular MUP, and the pedestrian, a very active 80-year-old woman, stepped out into the trail. Witnesses said he was traveling at a moderate rate of speed, and the pedestrian just suddenly stepped out in front of him.

    There was no prosecution, but I believe the suburb involved is lowering the speed limit on the trail to 10mph from 15 mph.

    There have been some pretty impassioned comments about this on the local newspaper comment boards...

  16. #16
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    It seems to me that prosecution of vehice to vehicle accidents is based on the relative political power of the victim. Same for pedertrians and cyclists. If a bum is run over on the road there is absolutely no prosecution. If a political power player is run over you can bet someone is going to jail. What's new?
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    I would say that no, prosecution is not the norm.

    Neighbor kiid killed a guy walking his bike in the crosswalk.
    Far I know, no prosecution.

    Want to murder sombeody and get off? Just run them down with your car.
    Really pisses me off.

    Jeff, still fat

  18. #18
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    We had a bicyclist kill a bicyclist - hitting head on on a MUP - and the offender (wrong side of the trai, blind cornerl) was fully prossecuted. There have been a number of prosecutions (and jail time) for hitting bicyclists. Not perfect, but better than some states, I think.

    We had a motorist shoot a bicyclist in an altercation and killed the bicyclist, and he was fully prosecuted.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 06-25-10 at 04:47 PM.
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  19. #19
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeArkansas View Post
    It seems to me that prosecution of vehice to vehicle accidents is based on the relative political power of the victim. Same for pedertrians and cyclists. If a bum is run over on the road there is absolutely no prosecution. If a political power player is run over you can bet someone is going to jail. What's new?
    I was thinking along those lines too. Result also depends on the social status/power of the perpetrator, I would think.

    What happens to "pedertrians"... I just cannot say! I think they often claim entrapment....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
    Generally around here it's regarded as an unfortunate accident, one of those things that "just happens." There's usually an investigation (don't know how thorough), and unless there's a really glaring instance of negligence, DUI or something, the driver might get a ticket or a few hours of community service....

    ...the community is still pretty wired into the idea that the roads belong to cars.
    Pretty much sums it up for NE Indiana, too.

    People here prove to me pretty frequently that you don't need to know anything about a subject to have an opinion about it.... Usually, though, they do sit up and take notice when some pro-cycling article hits the newspapers.

  21. #21
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    Massachusetts actually does prosecute drivers, if they are at fault in the accident. It has to be blatant, with witnesses, etc. In the case of this accident, I have been told the driver was not charged, because the cyclist ran the light. That is hearsay, not reported in this article.


    Quote Originally Posted by crackerdog View Post
    Washington state is terrible (as are most states) with pursuing deaths to peds or bicyclists by drivers. We had one near here a couple of summers ago, where the driver was driving with a suspended license and didn't get a ticket for killing a bicyclist. He did get a ticket for driving with a suspended license. They could at least take away their license to drive forever. Let's make driving with a suspended license a serious crime, it is a willing crime with intent after all.
    I agree completely with this. If you are caught driving without a license, (suspended, revoked, etc.) The punishment is a one hundred dollar fine. That's it. Oh sure, you get arrested ,but in most cases, you'll be released on your own recognizance, regardless of how many times you have done this.

    Stronger laws are clearly needed, but they will be hard to get. Americans vote with their right foot.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member spooner's Avatar
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    In northeast Ohio Silvia Bingham was killed by a truck driver on 9/15/09. He was driving under the influence. He was indicted a month later.

    Since then the trial has been continued multiple times:

    Event DateEvent 10/19/2009 INDICTED ORIGINAL 11/02/2009 JAIL 11/02/2009 BAIL 11/02/2009 ARRAIGNED 11/12/2009 PRETRIAL HELD 11/12/2009 CONTINUANCE 11/23/2009 PRETRIAL HELD 11/23/2009 CONTINUANCE 12/15/2009 PRETRIAL HELD 12/15/2009 CONTINUANCE 01/14/2010 PRETRIAL HELD 01/14/2010 CONTINUANCE 03/02/2010 PRETRIAL HELD 03/02/2010 CONTINUANCE 03/16/2010 PRETRIAL HELD 03/16/2010 CONTINUANCE 04/06/2010 PRETRIAL HELD

  23. #23
    Senior Member RepWI's Avatar
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    I have noticed that there is a lag time between when there is an accident and the arrest and prosecution of the accused.

    That lag time is probably caused by an investigation and the time it takes to complete that investigation.

    An alternative is to hang somebody, anybody, soon after an accident. It really does not matter if the person actually caused the accident as long as somebody is punished. And of course, that somebody should not be anybody I know or am related to.

    Now, do not get me wrong and do not hang me for advocating that we actually hang the right person that caused the particular crime.

    It may take more time to do this than the news cycle of our local TV news department.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeArkansas View Post
    I also noted the lack of coverage for this horrible event. It is odd about the coverage of a non-event accident when a cyclist was killed with very little coverage. I saw that article and became a bit miffed by it.

    The intersection where this incident occurred is one of the busiest in the area for cyclists. It is not as if a bicycle is never encountered there. I almost wish the driver would have been a DUI instead of a very nice 64 year old woman with her grandkids in the car. Distracted driving is probably the cause.
    That lady is lucky she "only" hit a cyclist. Had she been T-boned by another car/truck she and her grand kids might be dead. Sadly, she will have to live with this for her remaining years.

  25. #25
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    As long as bicyclists are routinely and almost universally excused from jury panels in vehicular manslaughter trials during voir dire (been there ... done that), juries will comprise non-cycling motorists and will therefore remain stacked against us. Whatever happened to "a jury of one's peers"? -- Ah yes -- if the accused is a non-bicycling motorist who believes we are foolhardy and don't even belong on "his" roads, then I suppose a jury of his peers is 12 like-minded people ...
    Last edited by John E; 06-26-10 at 07:17 AM.
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