Cars hitting buildings
^ best comment “Funny how people serve prison time for leaving a baby in a car but not for hitting a baby with one…
I disagree. My comment:
Suppose you are operating a piece of heavy machinery in a factory or at a construction site and you accidentally seriously injure or kill another worker. There will be an investigation, and if you are found not to have acted either intentionally or recklessly, you will face no criminal charges.
This is the way the law works. People who make mistakes are not criminals.
In the case of this crash, the driver’s insurance company will pay for damages to the house, and if there had been an injury to the baby, hospitalization, pain and suffering, and, if necessary, a death benefit would have been paid, too.
In other words, the law treats damages caused by a person as a civil matter, not a criminal matter. This does not mean there is no law against it. It just means that it is not a criminal matter.
As a regular cyclist, I think this should change. Requiring drivers who cause an accident to attend a training course makes sense to me. But I don’t think juries would go along with criminalizing unintentional behavior that is not demonstrably reckless.
And I wish my fellow cyclists would recognize the difference between criminal and civil penalties, and realize that just because the law does not prescribe a criminal punishment for a behavior does not mean “there is no law against it.”
Jon, I think I understand your point but I somewhat disagree. There is such a thing as ‘negligence’ that sometimes rises to the level of criminality. I’m not trying to say that these two events are equivalent, but here’s one involving a gun that’s being prosecuted http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Police-Corporal-Charged-in-Firearms-Training-Accident-That-Killed-State-Trooper-291432491.html
So I guess the question we should be asking is ‘is being negligent with a car being treated differently than being negligent by some other means?’ and I think the answer to that is a definite yes – unless you are unlucky enough to have alcohol or drugs in your system.
Don Parker was killed by a teen-aged driver who admitted to having his head below the dashboard (while moving) to untangle his flip flop – but no charges were filed.
The gun instructor “…breached routine, yet critical, safety protocol…” So shouldn’t having your head below the dashboard while driving be defined the same way?
It happens that the public information officer of the Seattle Police Department posted on the blog about the legal issues. I’ve copied his comment below.
On the issue of Don Parker, as I related here a while ago, I was on a ride with an assistant D.A. one time. He was completely supportive of bicyclist rights and had taken a personal interest in this case. He took the file and tried to find some way he could justify prosecuting the teen driver — but he couldn’t. He just didn’t see himself getting a conviction.
So I guess the bottom line is that the law doesn’t exactly mean what we might like it to, or what it seems to on the surface. It’s one thing to say someone is being negligent in the ordinary sense and another to prove they are according to the exact standards of the law, as described below.
Hello Seattle Bike Blog and followers. My name is Officer Seth Tyler, and I’m the Public Information Officer for the Bellevue Police Department. I’d like to take a moment to respond to some of the comments that were made here and elsewhere regarding our decision to not cite or arrest the driver in this case. Any comments made to media about the decision not to arrest or cite the driver in this incident were made by me after consulting with the investigating officer, so allow me to provide some context in this decision.
First, there is a big difference between criminal liability and civil liability. Someone may not be criminally liable in a certain case, but can still be held civilly liable. Our job as law enforcement is not to determine fault, that is the job of the various insurance companies that will undoubtedly be involved in this case. The accident investigator that responded to this incident, who has over 20 years of experience, is responsible for completing a thorough crash investigation, and determining if there is probably cause that any criminal offense has occurred. Criminal liability often times requires a mental state, or an intent to commit the crime. For example, in order for someone to be convicted of reckless driving, the prosecutor would have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the driver involved displayed a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. In laymen’s terms for this particular case, that means that the driver intended to drive her vehicle into the building. The facts of this case simply do not support that charge. So the investigating Officer would then move on to the next lesser crime of negligent driving in the first degree and see if that would apply. Negligent driving first degree is when a driver operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, and exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or marijuana or any drug. The driver in this case was not impaired by drugs or alcohol, so that charge wouldn’t apply. Moving to the lowest offense of Negligent Driving in the second degree, an infraction, a person is guilty of negligent driving in the second degree if, under circumstances not constituting negligent driving in the first degree, he or she operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property. It is an affirmative defense to negligent driving in the second degree, however, that the involved driver was operating the motor vehicle on private property with the consent of the owner. The parking lot of this apartment complex was indeed private property, and as there were no signs prohibiting entry it can be assumed that she had permission to be there. Other charges that were suggested by commenters, such as improper lane change or inattention to driving, are only enforceable on a public roadway or highway, so those wouldn’t apply here either.
What we are ultimately left with in this case, then, is a driver who, through their insurance provider, and likely personally, will be civilly liable to pay for all damages caused as a result of this incident. Our investigator has assisted in this process by completing a thorough accident investigation, which will appear on the driver’s state accident record, and will also be made available to insurers for use in determination of fault and liability.
In closing, we do not condone driving through buildings.
I think, BTW, that there should be a law that if you seriously injure or kill a pedestrian or cyclist, or cause significant property damage, intentionally or not, you should have to take a driver retraining course and not drive again until you’ve been retested. I think a law like that might get through some state legislatures (not PA, though). But we don’t have that law right now.
One more point from the Seattle bike blog, which is very educational. Apparently, as the law defines it,
“Negligence” = deliberately doing something you’re not supposed to do.
“Absence of due care” = failing to do something you’re supposed to do.
So in the case of the driver driving into the apartment, they did NOT show negligence; driving into the apartment was not deliberate, it was a mistake. If, say, the apartment complex had signs up saying the public is not allowed to drive here, then the driver would have been negligent, because they presumably deliberately drove into the parking lot. But the accident didn’t show negligence, because it wasn’t deliberate.
Same with flip-flop boy. He was not negligent; he didn’t deliberately drive on the shoulder or run Don Parker down.
What we want our laws to apply to is “absence of due care.” The driver who drove into the apartment showed absence of due care, because you’re not supposed to do that. Same with flip-flop boy.
So we’d want a law that said if, through absence of due care, you significantly injure a cyclist or pedestrian, or cause major property damage, you would need mandatory driving education and a retest before you could drive again.
BTW, “reckless” means something else again. It means you deliberately broke the law. So the driver who crashed into the Pink Box donut shop was reckless, because they told the cop that they drove off the road to avoid another driver. Bad idea. Watch what you tell cops. If they’d said, I lost control of the car, no reckless driving charge.
I fail to distinguish between
“Negligence” = deliberately doing something you’re not supposed to do
“reckless” = deliberately broke the law
If the former is supposed to apply to some sort of “best practices” guide, that gets into murky waters in a hurry. If I can’t tell from a high level, here, I do not see how legislation can be enacted, let alone be prosecuted.
Yeah, you’re right — I was sort of winging it with “reckless.” I’m sure there’s more to it than that. The legal definition is something about “wanton disregard for the law” but I don’t know what that means, really.
OTOH I think that crashing into a donut shop is a pretty good way to get the book thrown at you, by a cop.
Wrong-way semi partially demolishes Sharpsburg senior center, leaves. Caught up to in Etna, claims he ‘didn’t know’ he hit anything…
Tractor-Trailer Crashes Into Sharpsburg Refugee Center, Flees Scene
Kdka edits their stories in place without notice. (note use of ‘flees’ in headline, which remains unchanged so far…)
Wow, editing stories in place without identifying things as corrections or follow-ups? Journalism, 2015, pathetic.
The internet makes winston smith’s job of rewriting the news from 1984 look so much easier now. You can keep your website current with the correct narrative without telling anyone you changed anything.
I love copy-pasting text from stories here, just in case that happens again. No, when that happens again.
Thinking as I type here, maybe I’ll further amend that to add: Make a note to myself to tack on a timestamp when I do that.
I enjoy this site tremendously.
This bridge is hit so frequently that the neighbors have a webcam trained on it 24/7.
Here’s a ‘best of’ compilation:
That used to happen all the time at the Bates Street exit from the Parkway on the way to Second Avenue, before they rebuilt the bridge where the bike path sits. I would drive that way and remember calling 911 when I saw a truck was stuck: “Is the driver still there?” It was such a common occurrence that they’d wait to see if things worked out.
I saw lots of vehicles stuck under Bates Street over the years. By far the best thing I saw was the same company’s tractor wedged under the old bridge two days in the row – it was like the Groundhog Day movie. Also, that old bridge generated a lot of revenue for a friend’s heavy truck repair business; he spoke of its replacement the same way one might talk about the death of good old dog.
PITTSBURGH — A police chase ended early Thursday when the vehicle that was being pursued crashed into a pizza shop in Pittsburgh.
Forgive my slightly off-topic submission of this:
Subcategory: “Unsecured loads”
KDKA’s story is mostly about the pizza shop, but does add that the vehicle apparently took off unaided from a traffic stop. “…the car sped off from officers in Garfield earlier Thursday morning. The car eventually crashed right through the windows and front door of the restaurant.”
Car Involved In Chase Slams Into East Liberty Restaurant
The crash ended when the car with six teens inside crashed into the side of a building at East Liberty Boulevard and Penn Avenue shortly after 4 a.m.
At first I thought this was the Pink Box opening up again, but no, it’s a different doughnut shop.
“They face charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle, fleeing or eluding police, forgery, and firearms violations, according to police.”
Nothing about parking on the sidewalk? (PA state law is silent on whether cars should be parked wheels-down, wheels-up, or wheels-sideways, so they’re OK on that score.)
Jonawebb ahs a point about how dangerous driving is not and probably should not, be considered criminal.
However, we recognize that bad driving is a serious danger.
The solution? Perhaps licenses should be revoked for non-criminal safety reasons. And suspensions shoudl be taken seriously.
Driving is not a basic human right.
Vehicle crashes into structure in West End
PITTSBURGH — A vehicle crashed into a structure in the West End Tuesday afternoon, according to officials.
The incident is in the 900 block of Harker Street around 1:45 p.m.
A semi hit the railroad overpass on Eckert St/McClure Ave going towards Riverview Park. We saw this as we were going towards the observatory. The trailer suffered significant damage.
Man drives car onto helipad at St. Clair Hospital
“He was arrested and charged with risking a catastrophe, aggravated assault, and other crimes. ”
Who knew that risking a catastrophe was against the law? Shouldn’t more drivers be in jail just for getting behind the wheel?
Had he only had the presence of mind to bring along a cyclist and run them over on the pad… he’d be home watching himself on the news and not being subjected to the indignities that our legal system might visit upon transgressors.
A truly accomplished motorist would have made sure that the biker had no helmet to wear and thereby guaranteed that the story would focus mostly on the perils of cycling.
Well, the driver is from Athens, GA, so that explains a lot ;-)
Sorry, can’t pass up the opportunity to pile it on Athens and UGA. Them college rivalries…
Whoa. And I thought Athens was kind of the “rational” part of GA.
@edmonds59, I’m probably being unfair here. Athens is a fine town. It’s UGA that I dislike. Our rivalry with them is called “Clean, old-fashioned hate” for a reason so for us, Athens tends to be synonymous with UGA.
somehow this seems fitting-
SOUTH SIDE SLOPES (KDKA) – A truck slammed into a home overnight on the South Side Slopes.
Driver Injured After Truck Slams Into Home On South Side Slopes
HAZELWOOD (KDKA)- Police are looking for several young men who ran from the scene of a crash in Hazelwood.
Around 4:15 a.m., a car slammed into a minivan parked in the 400 block of Flowers Avenue. The car then hit a house’s front porch and came to rest between the porch and the minivan.
Car Slams into Parked Vehicle, Hits Porch in Hazelwood
This is a good one!
SMITH TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A car left a Washington County road and ended up on its front bumper against a house Friday morning.
NORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa. — A dance studio in North Huntingdon is seriously damaged after a vehicle crashed into the building and fled the scene. Dancing J’s Studio, located on Clay Pike, was closed during the incident, so no one was injured.
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