We spend a good deal of time screaming at the sky about how mistreated and misrepresented we are as cyclists in regards to traffic accidents or driver abuse.
And it's true, if a cyclist dies because of a drivers bad behavior, the legal outcome is usually underwhelming.
But this is the case when it comes to driver vs. driver as well.
My Uncle Marc was killed by a drunk driver. The person convicted of killing him was his best friend who had chosen to drive home drunk from the bar that my Uncle was at with him. My Uncle walked home. The guy drove.
The guy hit, killed, and didn't stop for, my Uncle.
When he was convicted he got 2 years. He served 6 months. That's drunk driving and murder. He only served 6 months. There are intricacies and details (he was rich with a "great" lawyer etc...) that i've left out.
But what I want to know is what do you expect from the legal system? Should the guy's life have been over because he killed my Uncle? Should drivers that kill cyclists lives be over ? Other drivers? Death sentence? Life in Prison?
We rant and rave and at then end of the day it's still a human you are talking about that has misbehaved. We hope they reform their behavior we hope they learn from the incident.
I grant that a criminal history will play into this but despite what the media/ or other cyclists tell you most of the maniacs that are driving aren't criminals (or should be in your mind but not in reality?).
It's a grander scheme question. Waxing philosophic on a Friday.
Outrage seems to come from two primary sources (to generalize a bit):
1) wanting retribution for the loss that resulted from the crime;
2) lack of knowledge of the facts.
Wanting retribution seems to be a normal reaction which logic sometimes tempers. Lack of knowledge of the facts can be overcome, but it takes some effort to learn facts, especially when the event is not one with which the outraged person is directly involved. In some situations, outrage is warranted, however, there are people who are content to sustain their outrage regardless of the facts. It is easier than coming to a reasoned conclusion.
The balance between letting people literally get away with murder and a lynch mob society that strings 'em up first and asks questions later is tough. Neither extreme makes sense. There will often be situations whee somebody is unhappy with an outcome. In general our society has been much less tolerant of driving while intoxicated. Impaired driving creates a greater risk that bad things will happen. However, most people still get home in one piece and then, foolishly, try again. I have been thinking about the owner of the Indianapolis Colts. He was caught this week driving intoxicated. he also had a controlled substance in his vehicle. He did not hurt anybody. He was lucky. I gather from what I read, that he has been doing things like this for a while. He is now in rehab and will likely pay a lot of money, face some embarrassment, and doubtfully spend any time in the pokey. Would it be the same for you or I? Probably not. We don't have his resources. We also don't have his history of abuse (I am making an assumption here.) Had he run over his best friend or somebody on a bike, he may have been in a heap more trouble. Would he go to jail? Maybe yes, maybe no. However, the family of the hypothetical victim would have been compensated. would that bring back the hypothetical loved one? No. Then again, nothing short of a rift in the space time continuum could do that.
Getting back to the topic...We have explored these issues on this forum over the past year as drivers in our city have killed bikers. Its horrible for all involved. If somebody does a bad thing they should be punished. We want to see this happen. However, it does not bring back the biker. We don't need to draw and quarter the accused. We just don't want to see him/her driving around laughing and thinking that there is no repercussion for their act. We want other people to think twice before staggering into their car so it will not happen again (or to be realistic, happen as much again).
Instant Karma never seems to work right? That's always the argument against it.
A driver behaves badly but didn't kill us. We are SO ANGRY. We yell at them or break something off there car. We feel better, maybe, but did the outraged driver learn anything?
Most go for the "Who cares if they learned? I feel better." And that's fine. But it likely didn't solve anything here in reality.
And if they killed you they might just get away with it... So do you take your pound of flesh when you can?
In Wisconsin, the Bike Fed was trying to get a Vulnerable Road Users Law this session. Unfortunately the leaders of the Assembly and the Senate refused to bring it to the floor for an up-or-down vote. We're trying again next session. Maybe we'll get this law to the governor's desk where it will be signed.