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Old 10-09-17, 12:40 PM   #1
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How many cyclist witnesses does it take to equal one motorist?

OK where this started is really was at the Nachez Trace collision... where a cyclist witnessed a driver clip his riding partner and then drive off... just how credible were those cyclists without their video?

And then of course we have the infamous Doctor involved in the Mandeville Canyon Road incident in 2008. The cyclists had a GPS to prove their case... but was not the testimony of 2 cyclists enough?

And then we have the situation of the Kalamazoo cyclists killed by a drugged driver (has not gone to court yet)... will the testimony of the survivors be enough?

But to a more open ended question... without cameras, do groups of cyclists still fall below the single driver as credible witnesses?

I am just wondering... we've seen a number of situations here that were "resolved" thanks to video... perhaps the most classic was that of the cyclist accused of running a light, then being hit by a motorist. The cyclist held that the light was in his favor... the PD held that the cyclist was wrong, and refused to even review video they had... the cyclist was ultimately able to retrieve the video and prove that the PD were not only wrong, but lied.

https://ggwash.org/view/31600/it-mus...ou-are-a-biker

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In the ambulance, Carlos Carter, a DC police officer, asked me what happened, and I told him.

Officer Carter entered the room. He asked me to sign a ticket for running a red light. I asked him to take a look at footage since I was certain I hadn’t. He wasn’t interested and asked me to sign the ticket and admit fault. I didn’t. He left.

I returned to the Third District police station, where a supervisor told me that only the officer who wrote the report and the ticket could change it. He asked me to tell my story again.
"Wait, you mean, you were biking and you want a ticket canceled?” he said, incredulous. “We all know how bikers behave. It must have been your fault. C’mon. You are a biker.”

Without the video, it would’ve been nearly impossible to prove that I did everything right.

I learned that if you get hit by someone while bicycling, check for cameras. Without them, you’ll have to fight against the assumption that you were operating in an unsafe way, no matter what the driver did.
But I just wonder, how often are cyclists' pleas of innocence ignored... Because somehow the "authorities" do not consider them credible witnesses against a motorist.
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Old 10-09-17, 12:45 PM   #2
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Borrowed quote from the thread that spawned this one...

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Originally Posted by prathmann
Testimony by multiple cyclists riding together is a little better than just a single witness, but is likely to be viewed by at least some jurors as not really independent - i.e. they're riding together so they might be friends backing each other up. If it's just their word vs. the driver's without any clear physical evidence then the 'beyond reasonable doubt' bar is a hard one to overcome. Without the video I doubt the Natchez Trace case would have even merited much of an investigation.
Therein lies the root of the problem... despite multiple witnesses... does a jury side with the motorist? Does the word of the motorist have more weight than that of multiple witnesses?
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Old 10-09-17, 01:29 PM   #3
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Borrowed quote from the thread that spawned this one...



Therein lies the root of the problem... despite multiple witnesses... does a jury side with the motorist? Does the word of the motorist have more weight than that of multiple witnesses?
Note that my 'borrowed quote' is not support of the jury siding with the motorist, but rather questioning the independence of witnesses who are riding together. The same questioning would occur if you had several friends or family members in the car backing up the story given by the driver - it would slightly improve his credibility, but not nearly as much as if he had support by a witness standing by the side of the road who was unrelated to the driver. And note that in the cases you mentioned it was a criminal trial where the defendant has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. That's a high bar to overcome without some physical evidence to allow the jury to decide between the conflicting testimony of witnesses.

A close friend of mine had a situation very similar to that cited in the link you quoted. He entered an intersection just as the light changed from green to yellow and at the same time a car coming from the opposite direction made a left turn into his path. He ended up on the hood of the car with his body smashing the windshield. Paramedics and police arrived at the scene and my friend was taken to a hospital while the officer took a statement from the motorist. When the officer entered my friend's hospital room his first words were that if my friend weren't injured he'd write him a traffic citation for running a red and he already had the collision description all written out based on what he had been told by the motorist. The driver had indicated that she had been waiting for oncoming traffic to clear and that she proceeded on a green turn arrow when the through traffic light changed. My friend then asked the officer to please go back to the intersection and check when the green arrow is given since at that intersection it only occurs before the through traffic gets a green - not after as stated by the motorist.

In my friend's case the officer's mistake was not so much due to prejudice against cyclists as just a natural result of getting only one side of the story initially and therefore reaching a conclusion without proper consideration of the other side. When the cyclist is injured it's natural for the motorist's statement to be taken initially and only much later talk to the cyclist.
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Old 10-09-17, 02:16 PM   #4
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Therein lies the root of the problem... despite multiple witnesses... does a jury side with the motorist? Does the word of the motorist have more weight than that of multiple witnesses?
Take cycling out of it completely, and think of an analogous situation.

Say I am at a bar with friends, and wind up in a fight that gets some folks arrested. If you are on the jury, are you going to automatically believe my friend's story of the account?

It is not that you need X cyclists for every motorist, you need independent, unbiased witnesses Witnesses on the whole are horribly unreliable, witnesses with a personal attachment to a victim don't help. Like it or not, our legal system is set up where the burden of proof is on the state to prove a crime has been committed, and legal cases based largely off witnesses leave plenty of doubt to be induced.
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Old 10-09-17, 02:47 PM   #5
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Take cycling out of it completely, and think of an analogous situation.

Say I am at a bar with friends, and wind up in a fight that gets some folks arrested. If you are on the jury, are you going to automatically believe my friend's story of the account?

It is not that you need X cyclists for every motorist, you need independent, unbiased witnesses Witnesses on the whole are horribly unreliable, witnesses with a personal attachment to a victim don't help. Like it or not, our legal system is set up where the burden of proof is on the state to prove a crime has been committed, and legal cases based largely off witnesses leave plenty of doubt to be induced.
You are right... based on the burden of proof, and the fact that the cyclists are usually pointing to "the accused," indeed the deck is stacked against cyclists... add to that the fact that often the cyclists are in shock or otherwise out of commission after such an incident... yeah, that really does shift things in the favor of the motorist. Wow.

Thus it appears that there is more than just a bias against cyclists... based on that same issue of "birds of a feather" (motorists siding with motorists...) there is also the legal burden based on "innocence of the accused."

No wonder drivers can spin a tale and often get away with it.
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Old 10-09-17, 07:41 PM   #6
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.....Thus it appears that there is more than just a bias against cyclists... based on that same issue of "birds of a feather" (motorists siding with motorists...) there is also the legal burden based on "innocence of the accused."
....
This is the problem with the "woe is me" everybody hates cyclist"s mindset.

The attitude is so deeply ingrained that our constitutional presumption of innocence, and legal standards regarding burden of proof along with the standard of "beyond reasonable doubt", is taken as some kind of special hardship visited on us poor souls.

The fact is that other than a small number of jackasses, nobody has it in for us, and police and prosecutors are happy to pursue cases of import (in their mind, not ours), when there's enough quality, admissible evidence to make a case. Cases based on intent are especially hard to prove, so often, absent a DUI or leaving the scene, drivers aren't that likely to face a criminal prosecution.


OTOH - civil court is a different story, and it's far easier for cyclists to get justice, but here again it takes more than the unsupported testimony of the victim.

I might point out that far more motorists suffer death or injury caused by other motorists than do cyclists, and drivers don't go to jail for those either.
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Old 10-09-17, 08:17 PM   #7
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This is the problem with the "woe is me" everybody hates cyclist"s mindset.

... drivers aren't that likely to face a criminal prosecution.


OTOH - civil court is a different story, and it's far easier for cyclists to get justice, but here again it takes more than the unsupported testimony of the victim.

I might point out that far more motorists suffer death or injury caused by other motorists than do cyclists, and drivers don't go to jail for those either.
I can't find the post or article, but some years ago someone on BF described how, in the early days of the automobile, traffic injuries and fatalities were criminally prosecuted. It became apparent that, with the growth of automobiles, the criminal cases would overwhelm the criminal justice system. So, legislation was passed to decriminalize most accidents, and remand those matters to civil court (to the delight of trial lawyers everywhere?). I'm not sure if I have the details correct.

So, it seems that sometimes folks are frustrated that law enforcement won't press charges in the case of a collision involving a cyclist, but could it be that sometimes there is no criminal violation to prosecute, absent aggravating factors?

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Old 10-10-17, 07:30 AM   #8
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This is the problem with the "woe is me" everybody hates cyclist"s mindset.

The attitude is so deeply ingrained that our constitutional presumption of innocence, and legal standards regarding burden of proof along with the standard of "beyond reasonable doubt", is taken as some kind of special hardship visited on us poor souls.

The fact is that other than a small number of jackasses, nobody has it in for us, and police and prosecutors are happy to pursue cases of import (in their mind, not ours), when there's enough quality, admissible evidence to make a case. Cases based on intent are especially hard to prove, so often, absent a DUI or leaving the scene, drivers aren't that likely to face a criminal prosecution.


OTOH - civil court is a different story, and it's far easier for cyclists to get justice, but here again it takes more than the unsupported testimony of the victim.

I might point out that far more motorists suffer death or injury caused by other motorists than do cyclists, and drivers don't go to jail for those either.
Yeah... the "woe is me" aspect is a bit off, but before we brush it aside as a fake cyclist issue... let's keep in mind that I presented one case where the PD had video, and refused to look at it... and there have been situations where harm has been encouraged against cyclists by radio shock jocks. AND there ARE notable cases where motorists did target cyclists... so let's not dismiss "bias" completely.
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Old 10-10-17, 07:37 AM   #9
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Yeah... the "woe is me" aspect is a bit off, but before we brush it aside as a fake cyclist issue... let's keep in mind that I presented one case where the PD had video, and refused to look at it... and there have been situations where harm has been encouraged against cyclists by radio shock jocks. AND there ARE notable cases where motorists did target cyclists... so let's not dismiss "bias" completely.
I don't dismiss individual bias. There are plenty of wackos out there, both on radio and driving around. But, I don't believe that there's a systemic bias.

I wouldn't have posted at all but for some of the comments implying that due process was stacked against cyclists.
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Old 10-10-17, 08:05 AM   #10
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The "stacked against cyclists" aspect presented earlier largely stems from the "burden of proof" aspect and the fact that cyclists may not be in condition to offer on site testimony.

But to claim that there is "no bias" is not true either.

Just as cyclists are seen as "protecting" one another, the same holds true for motorists.

Seems the best solution is to have cams.
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Old 10-10-17, 08:47 AM   #11
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The "stacked against cyclists" aspect presented earlier largely stems from the "burden of proof" aspect and the fact that cyclists may not be in condition to offer on site testimony.
...
Just as cyclists are seen as "protecting" one another, the same holds true for motorists.
The "burden of proof" "aspect" is a core part of our legal system. Yes, even when it comes to cyclists, I would rather risk guilty people go free than innocent folks imprisoned. You are making the accusation against the motorist, you must prove your case. Cameras may well be the best way to make that happen, because as I mentioned before witnesses are horribly unreliable before you even get to impartiality. In any case where it becomes he-said/she-said (or whatever variation thereof), court cases often end up in no convictions, simply because of the difficulty of accomplishing that burden of proof. It is not a stacked deck against cyclists, it is a stacked deck against the generic accuser, for good historical reason.

It is not cyclists stick up for cyclists, and motorists stick up for motorists, it is that anyone I am riding with likely are my family and friends. People you are well known to in some manner to generally cannot act as an impartial witness, just like my friends sitting in my backseat are not impartial witnesses if I crash in a car.
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Old 10-10-17, 10:19 AM   #12
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Many times I have stated it seems really hard for a cyclist to get justice in criminal court. Their testimony just some how or other dont seem to carry as much weight as a driver.
Cyclist almost always has to resort to civil court to get justice.

Second too I have stated that if you are so deranged you want someone dead, buy them a bike and run over them. Chances are you will only get your wrist slapped.
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Old 10-10-17, 11:01 AM   #13
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The "burden of proof" "aspect" is a core part of our legal system. Yes, even when it comes to cyclists, I would rather risk guilty people go free than innocent folks imprisoned. You are making the accusation against the motorist, you must prove your case. Cameras may well be the best way to make that happen, because as I mentioned before witnesses are horribly unreliable before you even get to impartiality. In any case where it becomes he-said/she-said (or whatever variation thereof), court cases often end up in no convictions, simply because of the difficulty of accomplishing that burden of proof. It is not a stacked deck against cyclists, it is a stacked deck against the generic accuser, for good historical reason.

It is not cyclists stick up for cyclists, and motorists stick up for motorists, it is that anyone I am riding with likely are my family and friends. People you are well known to in some manner to generally cannot act as an impartial witness, just like my friends sitting in my backseat are not impartial witnesses if I crash in a car.
I understand, however, there is also a natural tendency for that very situation I mentioned... There is a natural bias against "the other" by what ever group you are in...

So, for instance, if a cyclist is testifying in court against a defendant motorist, it is highly likely that the jury (heck, 98% of the other people in the classroom... based on US stats of who cycles regularly) see things through motorist eyes, and may have a bias against cyclists.

So a cyclist, or a group of cyclists, in trying to get justice against a motorist who crashed into them, has to fight the legal burden of proof, then the resistance to accept as witnesses those who are with the cyclist, then perhaps that the cyclist(s) is/was not conscious and able to provide collision scene details, then the bias of all motorists involved throughout the justice system...

Whereas a motorist involved in a crash merely has to say "the cyclist swerved."
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Old 10-10-17, 11:13 AM   #14
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Whereas a motorist involved in a crash merely has to say "the cyclist swerved."
OTOH, even if there are ten cyclist witnesses in the group who saw the lead bike swerve, do you think a single one of them is going to offer that up when giving statements?

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Second too I have stated that if you are so deranged you want someone dead, buy them a bike and run over them. Chances are you will only get your wrist slapped.
Many times I have stated that kill anyone with a car, be it a pedestrian, cyclist, or other motorist, you'll get a slap on the wrist. It is rare that someone who causes a deadly accident even sees prison, let alone extensive time there, there generally needs to be extenuating circumstances (DUI, extensive record, etc) to make it happen.
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Old 10-10-17, 11:28 AM   #15
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How often do jury trials involving automobile / bicycle collisions occur? Frequently enough to identify trends, or are these purely hypothetical mental constructions in paranoid minds? Reading these posts, it seems that some here have observed multiple miscarriages of justice in courtrooms -- I had no idea these cases occurred so frequently.

Agreeing that motorists don't identify as a group any more than people with two eyes identify as a group. Nearly the entire adult population are motorists. Contrary to sticking together, they have it out for each other at least as much as they do cyclists. Sitting in a jury box, they are more likely to see in the defendant the last 10 jerks who cut them off.
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Old 10-10-17, 11:54 AM   #16
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I think part of the problem is it seems to me there is this mentality among cyclists that in the event of an "incident" there is criminal behavior involved, or at least we tend to criminalize it ourselves. Sure, people act stupid and accidents happen. But short of some type of impaired driving or intentionally hitting a cyclists, there is unlikely to be any type of "criminal" prosecution. And why would there be? Just like @FBinNY said above
"I might point out that far more motorists suffer death or injury caused by other motorists than do cyclists, and drivers don't go to jail for those either."
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Old 10-10-17, 12:30 PM   #17
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I think part of the problem is it seems to me there is this mentality among cyclists that in the event of an "incident" there is criminal behavior involved, or at least we tend to criminalize it ourselves. Sure, people act stupid and accidents happen. But short of some type of impaired driving or intentionally hitting a cyclists, there is unlikely to be any type of "criminal" prosecution. And why would there be? Just like @FBinNY said above
"I might point out that far more motorists suffer death or injury caused by other motorists than do cyclists, and drivers don't go to jail for those either."
Yeah, why not?
If a criminal action has taken place... why are drivers allowed to "walk" from these incidents?
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Old 10-10-17, 12:40 PM   #18
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OTOH, even if there are ten cyclist witnesses in the group who saw the lead bike swerve, do you think a single one of them is going to offer that up when giving statements?
Go the other way with that... what if the cyclist did not swerve, and had ten cycling partner witnesses... the motorist still has the legal "burden of proof" on their side, plus the tendency for the jury et. al. to not believe the "biased witnesses."

I don't know of any such case pending, nor one that has recently been judged... so this aspect is all just "purely hypothetical mental constructions."

But we do have two situations in which a camera made all the difference...
https://ggwash.org/view/31600/it-mus...ou-are-a-biker
Driver in Natchez Trace bicycle hit-and-run faces federal charges

And that first link I just provided has the local PD blaming the cyclist and refusing to review the traffic control video... which eventually had to be retrieved via legal means... the cyclist "had to file a DC Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the footage."
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Old 10-10-17, 01:09 PM   #19
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Yeah, why not?
If a criminal action has taken place... why are drivers allowed to "walk" from these incidents?
I guess my point is, a lack of criminal intent. Some guy fiddles with his radio for a second and causes an accident. Was there criminal intent? I think in general, the court says "No". Except in rare cases, such as road rage or intentionally running over a pedestrian or cyclists(which was what spurred this thread) or DWI, etc., it is difficult to prove criminal intent because frankly, I doubt it is present. And so as a society, we enforce traffic laws, and there IS the element of liability, placing blame if you will, but I doubt most people at fault in (most) auto accidents, intended to cause harm, and the court recognizes that. It doesn't remove liability, just doesn't necessarily criminalize the behavior. Sometimes that changes with flagrant recklessness, and disregard of safety, even if intent wasn't there.
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Old 10-10-17, 01:20 PM   #20
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I guess my point is, a lack of criminal intent. .....
Intent is a piece of it, but the bigger piece is the difference between negligence and criminal negligence. Absent aggravating factors, simple negligence isn't criminal and cases are relegated to civil courts to sort out.

I suspect that part of the issue here on BF is that some people consider it a crime when negligence or error in judgement causes a death or serious injury. For better or worse the various state legislatures which wrote the applicable laws didn't, and chose to draw a line separating criminal and non criminal negligence, establishing specific hurdles to prosecuting most injury cases as crimes.
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Old 10-10-17, 01:41 PM   #21
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I guess my point is, a lack of criminal intent. Some guy fiddles with his radio for a second and causes an accident. Was there criminal intent? I think in general, the court says "No". Except in rare cases, such as road rage or intentionally running over a pedestrian or cyclists(which was what spurred this thread) or DWI, etc., it is difficult to prove criminal intent because frankly, I doubt it is present. And so as a society, we enforce traffic laws, and there IS the element of liability, placing blame if you will, but I doubt most people at fault in (most) auto accidents, intended to cause harm, and the court recognizes that. It doesn't remove liability, just doesn't necessarily criminalize the behavior. Sometimes that changes with flagrant recklessness, and disregard of safety, even if intent wasn't there.
Decent point there... and indeed collisions are often more due to neglect than due to criminal intent.

None the less, when someone has been injured due to neglect, and the "authorities" fail in their job due to "neglect..." where does that leave the cyclist, or their family... civil court... if a driver is found and identified as being liable... Which in the situation below, would not have occurred until the cyclist forced authorities to release the video.
https://ggwash.org/view/31600/it-mus...ou-are-a-biker

Bear in mind that the Nachez Chase collision was a hit and run, and the driver was not found except through the use of video...
Driver in Natchez Trace bicycle hit-and-run faces federal charges
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Old 10-11-17, 01:09 AM   #22
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I keep seeing people making reference to drunk driving and hit-and-run as thought those are special cases where windshield perspective on the part of judges and juries wouldn't protect a scofflaw killer motorist. I wish it were so. Here's a local article where a man who drove thirty-five miles to get drunk at a strip club killed a pedestrian on his way home and then fled the scene. The sentence was 20 days in jail (translation: check in for road crew three times and likely only have to do it once).

The key here is the social standing of the victim. In this case, it was a homeless man (bottom rung). In cases where the victim of a crime is a cyclist, it's going to be pursued as the victim being of lower standing than the perp, and thus the bar for legal action is higher. This has been a part of American jurisprudence for so long it's not even debatable, and if we do this thread is going to be tossed into P&R.

No prison for driver in fatal accident | City Region | Eugene, Oregon
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Old 10-12-17, 01:30 AM   #23
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Yeah, why not?
If a criminal action has taken place... why are drivers allowed to "walk" from these incidents?

Well, WAS there?
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Old 10-12-17, 08:23 AM   #24
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Yeah, why not?
If a criminal action has taken place... why are drivers allowed to "walk" from these incidents?
Because society does not benefit by harshly imprisoning every last driver who caused a motor vehicle accident that results in serious injury or death. The overwhelming majority of them, while one can point to momentary inattention, poor decision making, or similar action, truly are nothing more than accidents.

Where one can prove incredible recklessness or wanton disregard for safety of others, they generally are prosecuted as criminal acts. The majority never reach this level.
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Old 10-12-17, 11:42 AM   #25
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Because society does not benefit by harshly imprisoning every last driver who caused a motor vehicle accident that results in serious injury or death. The overwhelming majority of them, while one can point to momentary inattention, poor decision making, or similar action, truly are nothing more than accidents.

Where one can prove incredible recklessness or wanton disregard for safety of others, they generally are prosecuted as criminal acts. The majority never reach this level.
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Just don’t call them accidents anymore.

That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error.

“When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a driver safety conference this month at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“In our society,” he added, “language can be everything.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/23/s...s-instead.html

"Accident" more and more means... "Well, I wasn't looking, or I thought I had time to grab that CD or cigarette or last french fry... "

Those "accidents" that kill people are more likely due to motorist being distracted in some manner... or simply not paying attention.

Perhaps, when someone is killed, there needs to be more than just a wrist slap and "remorse."

Most "accidents" ARE preventable... but while we decry the actions of one individual that harms another with firearms, we as a society are blind to the massacre by motorists.

Quote:
Preliminary estimates by the nonprofit National Safety Council show deadly crashes rose by nearly 8 percent in 2015 over the previous year, killing about 38,000 people.
And should you feel that this report is just nonsense by one newspaper or reporter...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...=.b8a54c464609

?Crash? vs. ?Accident? Doesn?t Seem Like It Matters Very Much ? Mother Jones

https://www.crashnotaccident.com/
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