"no criminal charges are expected"

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Willie
Participant
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It always gets to me when they call things like this a “accident”. Last time I checked being under the influence and driving like a jerk is a very bad choice not a accident.


Kathi
Participant
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Willie, when I write about my brother I also find it difficult to call it an accident. The word just does not seem to fit, expecially if you saw where he was hit.

Scott Sago has only received a motor traffic control violation for his penalty. Now how much is that for killing my brother? A hundred dollars… two hundred dollars???


Kathi
Participant
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Stu, you said… “What good will this do for deterrence?”

That is my gripe….. no stiff penalty … no deterrence factor. Even a child will steal from the cookie jar or whatever when there is no stiff penalty.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I’m not sure penalties have any real cause-and-effect relationship with deterrence. We need something else, and I’m thinking strict enforcement. I’m thinking a public education program. I’m thinking long-term projects like requiring a bicycle and pedestrian component to drivers’ education courses.

To Mrs. Housewife, deterrence from a stiff fine means nothing when chasing to the mall with a crying kid in the car. If she takes out a cyclist on a turn, it’s “OMG I didn’t mean to do that”.

Whether the fine is $100 or $100,000, I don’t think it deters bad stuff from happening.


Kathi
Participant
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I, on the otherhand, think stiff penalties have worked for candy wrappers……..Isn’t there a lot less litter out there as the result of that little initiative??? I think twice about throwing paper out the window, but that is me….I think it makes some difference, even if it doesn’t work for everyone. I am still all for stiff penalties!!


Lyle
Participant
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deterrence and strict enforcement are opposite sides of the same coin.

Weak states use draconian deterrence because they can’t support the infrastructure required by a policy of strict enforcement.

the USA can support the infrastructure but lacks the will.


J Z
Participant
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rsprake
Participant
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If he would have dropped a pen or had his flip flop get stuck he would probably still be driving.


quizbot
Participant
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A year or two in jail after negligently killing a pedestrian with your car is pretty much equivalent with “no criminal charges are expected”. Horrible.


rice rocket
Participant
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I disagree, I think it was fitting. This wasn’t premeditated murder, the kid seemed truly sorry (at least by his words, and by the family’s willingness to forgive him…which was done publicly), and probably will be a pretty attentive driver from here on out. He’ll have to live the rest of his life knowing he killed a mother. And jail isn’t a walk in the park. No need to lock a kid up for ever and ever, I think the lesson’s been taught.

Related to what Stu said, if you could levy a life sentence on this, would that make drivers more attentive? Doubtful.


BradQ
Participant
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We have more people per capita in jail than any other industrialized nation, and yet we also are statistically a pretty violent place. Clearly incarceration alone doesn’t solve the problem.


Anonymous #

This may be a stupid question, but I’m hoping someone can enlighten me. In the article it says:

“was sentenced to serve from one year less one day to two years less two days incarceration.

The odd wording of the sentence allows Mr. Cope to serve the sentence at Allegheny County Jail.”

Is county jail easier than state prison? Therefore, Cope’s lawyer pushed for this?


dooftram
Participant
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@rice rocket – he’s not a “kid”. He’s in his early twenties. Let’s stop endlessly extending the adolescence of the American teenager. It’s part of the problem.

And in reference to County Jail vs prison, of course there’s a difference. Apparently they thought he couldn’t handle life in the pen. This tells me that a white kid from an affluent suburb is probably being treated very differently. That’s wrong, but hardly a surprise.

That said, never letting him drive again seems more important than a longer sentence.


Anonymous #

Thanks dooftram! Do you know what the specific differences are between county jail and state prison? Luckily never been to either so I’m unsure of why one would be easier to do time in than the other.


reddan
Keymaster
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We have more people per capita in jail than any other industrialized nation, and yet we also are statistically a pretty violent place. Clearly incarceration alone doesn’t solve the problem.

What Brad said.

Incarceration strikes me as a pretty good idea for those who have demonstrated an inability to stop repeatedly hurting people. For those who have been ‘merely’ catastrophically careless, I’d prefer to leave ’em in the outside world, and simply forbid them from ever having the opportunity to be careless in that fashion again.

People who are convicted of killing others due to careless driving really need to never be allowed to drive again.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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That said, not having a license hasn’t prevented people from getting behind the wheel much, either.

We need a better way. I just don’t know what it is, but I do know these people are going to be on bicycles and buses a lot.


reddan
Keymaster
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@stu: Hence, my proposal for confiscation of vehicles driven by the unlicensed. Fines mean little; make the penalty for driving without a license/on a suspended license actually painful. (Regardless of ownership…make it the responsibility of the owner to ensure that any operator of their vehicle is legit.)


eMcK
Participant
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I have a feeling if these were pedal rather than motor bikes it never would have made it to court:

http://www.maysville-online.com/news/local/article_051d0ae6-32be-55a3-8c37-f0aee97a0bae.html

Video is here, things start about 2 minutes in: http://s306.photobucket.com/albums/nn275/eschan1/?action=view&current=Vid00012.mp4


rsprake
Participant
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Yeah, because the biker totally shouldn’t have tried to pass on a double yellow. It’s all his fault. But seriously though, this was a deliberate attempt to run someone off the road, not an “accident.”


Mick
Participant
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@reddan Hence, my proposal for confiscation of vehicles driven by the unlicensed.

OR any sever enough penalty. Long jail terms might work.

On the other hand, I’ve long thought that you could make rules for licenses to be visible when a car is being driven. Kinda like fishing licenses. It would also be easy to set ignition locks so you needed to have a valid license to make the car go.

I’ve also thought that you could have an LED display of a car’s speed somewhere visible. That would be a safety factor for other drivers, but it would also make speeding detection as easy as taking a picture.

Any of these things could be implemented at very little cost, but there is not the public will for it.


reddan
Keymaster
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@mick: Agreed, re severity of penalty being the key. Doesn’t have to be confiscation.

However, I’d prefer a penalty that does not then leave me paying for their room and board. I’m coldhearted and Grinchy like that.

but there is not the public will for it.

And ^^^that is the biggest problem.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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“Whaaat? Sumpin that’d reeestrict my Gawd-given right as a Murrcan to drive fast as I dampleeze after I turn 16? Can’t do that, that’s gum’mint interferin’.”

In other words, something that might actually WORK? Nope, just can’t.


Vannevar
Participant
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There is, of course, the Spike Bike paradigm.


sew
Participant
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^ ah, interesting?!?


Mick
Participant
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Except for the end, that’s like all my Friday nights. Same for most folks here, I’d guess. ;)


Vannevar
Participant
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This Hi-Viz Approach to Blaming/Saving Victims takes an interesting approach. The author talks about “hunting accidents”, another situation in which the person who kills somebody is unaccountable because “it was an accident he shot them with a high-powered rifle” and the Common Wisdom is to blame the Dead Victim because they weren’t wearing HiViz clothing.

Because it’s totally your own responsibility to make sure that nobody shoots you by accident.

I thought it was an interesting parallel.

Cheers and Merry Christmas, V.


Marko82
Participant
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Hi viz dosnt work a mile away.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-12-20/amish-girl-accidentally-shot/52131964/1

Of course no charges are filed…


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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In hockey, if the business end of your stick contacts an opposing player above the neck, it’s a “high stick” penalty and you go to the penalty box and feel shame for two minutes (Slapshot reference). If blood is drawn it is a four minute penalty. Regardless of intent, regardless of what the offending player was doing at the time. The point is they are responsible for what that stick does, where it goes and who or what it hits.

Motor vehicle -ahem- “incidents” ought to be treated the same way. If the motor vehicle that you are operating impacts another vehicle, a bicyclist, a pedestrian, a house, whatever, then you are responsible whether or not you were fixing your flip flop, texting, blinded by the sun, stoned, drunk or 79 years old. There are NO mitigating circumstances.

Sentencing starts at license suspension for incidents involving property damage only, climbing to mandatory jail time of 6 months in the case of bodily injury, and minimum 10 years in the case of death. NO possibility of reduced sentencing, but sentences could go higher if other factors are present, such as DWI, repeat offense, etc.

IMHO.


Vannevar
Participant
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salty
Participant
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I came across this article via streetsblog: http://labikes.blogspot.com/2012/01/help-ressurect-house-bill-68-to-enhance.html (also see http://www.dukecitywheelmen.org/ )

So, what do we need to do to get a bill like this started here in PA? I’d still rather see license revocation be part of it, but it’s a start.

I think its fantastic that bicycling and motorcycling organizations are apparently working together on that. We could use more of that, a lot of the issues are the same, especially when it comes to death or injury caused by drivers.


Vannevar
Participant
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I think its fantastic that bicycling and motorcycling organizations are apparently working together on that.

I rode TOSRV in 2007 and a major throng of bicyclists were at a convenience store at about 90-ish miles. There was a tremendous roar and a club motorcycle ride, about 75 motorcycles, pulled in for fuel and drinks.

It was a funny moment. Bicyclists, Motorcyclists, Bicyclists, Motorcyclists, kind of two groups staring at each other.

I went over to one of the apparent alpha-cyclists and said, I got just one question for you.

He answered, Oh yeah, what’s that?

I asked, Which one of our groups is dressed funnier? Because I just can’t decide.

Big laughter from the motorcycle club, “hail fellow well met” all around. Turns out their MC, which is Ohio’s oldest, started out as a bicycle club back in the day.

There’s a lot of commonality in bicycle-motorcycle issues. Visibility, safety, and being perceived as legit vehicles by the “normal” people. It’s a mutually beneficial alliance.

They’re into equipment, rides, trips, weather, panniers, gloves, and sore butts just like we are. They’ve even got the same tendency to have helmet debates. They’re out there having fun and trying to stay safe just like we are.


brian j
Participant
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Give this guy a pair of sandals, and I would have thought he was riding a ‘bent.


rsprake
Participant
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Ha ha.


jonawebb
Participant
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I think there’s a natural consanguinity between bicyclists and motorcyclists. We have many of the same issues with cars. I remember pulling into Hancock, MD on a Pgh-DC trip with the kids — it was Biker Week. Motorcycles everywhere. At the hotel, I had some nice conversations with the motorcyclists.


Nick D
Participant
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There is definitely a lot of crossover between the two groups as well.

Though, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been almost by someone driving a car with a “Watch for Motorcycles” sticker


reddan
Keymaster
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Though, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been almost by someone driving a car with a “Watch for Motorcycles” sticker

I’ve had a few close calls with cars equipped with trunk racks. Never loaded with bikes, but still…

And I agree re: most motorcyclists. I’ve had almost uniformly good interactions with ’em.


Mick
Participant
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I cruised down 18th street with some bikers once. Everyone was amused.

I dropped them once we hit the Saturday night traffic jam.


Marko82
Participant
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I was buzzed by a motorcycle last week. There was an empty lane beside me yet he felt the need to pass me while in the right lane. I gave the universal arms outstreatch palms facing up WTF sign, then four more motorcycles passed me using the open left lane. I’d like to think that they said sdomething to the first guy when they caught up to him – but even this shows that at least 80% are good guys.


edmonds59
Participant
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To generalize broadly, realizing the pitfalls that involves, MClists who ride very loud, very expensive bikes 3 miles at a time from bar to bar and put on a good show are generally butt-for-brains.

MClists who ride 1,000 miles across three states to get breakfast and a cup of coffee and then ride home are generally pretty cool.


edmonds59
Participant
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Also V, cool Tosrv story. I probably rode that thing 10 or 12 years, back in the day.

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