When drivers start realizing that inattention is not a valid excuse for injuring or killing another human being, they might start paying more attention. At the least, they will start facing appropriate charges.
“So here’s a suggestion for police, prosecutors, and personal-injury attorneys everywhere. The next time a driver tells you “I didn’t see” the cyclist, ask yourself one question: Would a driver who is observing the duty to keep a proper lookout have seen the rider? Unless there is some extenuating circumstance to explain the driver’s behavior (it was nighttime and the cyclist was riding without lights), then treat that statement as what it is—an admission of guilt.”
Not to beat a dead horse, but by that logic, would adjusting a flip flop fall into the extenuating circumstances since it was stuck on a pedal, or would it fall into the negligant driver side because it’s inappropriate footwear for the vehicle operated?
I really don’t want to stir up that debate, I’m more questioning if perhaps the secondary problem is defining “extenuating circumstances”. Such that even if we get prosecutors and everybody to accept that inattention is a crime, defining whether the circumstances were extenuating (unavoidable accident – not criminal) or standard (avoidable accident – criminal) circumstances is the next “I didn’t see them”.
As far as I’m concerned, most extenuating circumstances should merely enable court to make the distinction between carelessness (“You’re not a safe enough driver to drive anymore”) and deliberate malice (“You’re a danger to society and need to be locked up.”)
The flip-flop was only incidental. It was the driver’s fully conscious decision to continue driving while not watching the road that led to the crash. He could have pulled over and liberated his shoe but he decided that 30 seconds of his time was worth more than exercising caution.
If the flip-flop or some other object had somehow jammed the accelerator down, that might be extenuating – but even then there are plenty of better options than looking away from the road to solve the problem.
salty – depending on the vehicle, a caught flip-flop on a pedal could preclude stopping if it prevented the brake from being used or prevented one’s foot from moving.
Maybe simply turning the statement “I didn’t see…” into an admission of guilt will help drivers remember to be more aware. I just see the word “extenuating” and understand “subjective” and worry about it’s use.
More and more I’m not sure human beings are ready to be moving at greater than 25mph on a massive scale yet.
No, if the brake pedal doesn’t work, there are still plenty of options – most notably the emergency brake.
That’s kind of beside the point, though. I’m not disputing that you there are situations where something truly unexpected happens that leads to a crash. I’m more concerned about the other 99.999% of cases where the crash is not unavoidable but it’s written off as such regardless.
I think your last statement hits the nail on the head – though, if you carry the argument through to its logical confusion. But, society has decided that 100 deaths a day is an acceptable price for being able to travel quickly.