At The End Of The Day…

Here’s what I know.

In November 2012, there was a collision between a minivan and a cyclist. The cyclists died. landsdownedavenportThe driver of the minivan fled the scene and did not turn himself in for nearly 2 days.

Yesterday, that driver was sentenced to 6 months in jail and a two year ban from driving. But since he’d already spent 3 months under house arrest and curfew, he’d only have to go to jail for 3 months which he could serve on weekends, 15 of them probably. The cyclist remains dead.

How you react to that news, I think, pretty much reflects your view of the hierarchy of getting around the city, the unwritten rules of the road. For me, this decision comes from the point of view that “accidents” happen, injuries and fatalities just come with the territory. People are fallible. Mistakes occur. There’s always more than enough blame to go around. No need to pin it all on one person.

So, this driver doesn’t get convicted of anything to do with the collision other than the fact he fled the scene — groundedleaving another person to die on the street — and didn’t step up to accept responsibility for 40 hours. That alone seems to make this an unseemly light sentence. House arrest, curfew, weekend stints in jail. Sentenced? More like grounded.

As for what exactly happened, we’ll never know, I guess. Just another “accident”, right? These things happen. Unfortunate tragedy. What are you going to do?

That the police initially, and erroneously as it turned out, said that the cyclist had pedaled through a red light, pretty much evened the playing field. Sure, the driver fled the scene after the collision but, come on, running a red light? The cyclist got what was coming to him.

Turns out the man’s family didn’t accept that scenario and hired a lawyer “to examine the evidence” who, after some digging, determined that the cyclist was stationary or moving very slowly which doesn’t sound like the actions of someone gunning through a red light. Why did the investigation simply end there? Why, in the words of the judge delivering up the sentence, was consideration not given to whether the hit-and-run driver caused the cyclist’s death? crushedbikeA man, essentially sitting still on his bike, gets struck by a car to such an extent that the damage leaves no doubt the driver knew he had hit the cyclists, and no consideration is given to whether that collision caused the man’s death? The driver is charged, convicted and sentenced “for failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing death”, an accident the driver appears to be largely responsible for not one he was simply some passer-by at.

He’s going to jail for not remaining at the scene of an “accident” he, in the eyes of the law, it seems, had no part of.

And why is he going to jail only on weekends? In order to not, I don’t know, disrupt his life too much? So he can keep his job and go back to normal when he’s done his time. He killed somebody while behind the wheel of his minivan. Why does he get to go back to normal with a minor inconvenience to his social life for a few months?

This isn’t retribution I’m talking about here. chalkoutlinebikeI don’t mean to diminish any loss of freedom or the impact spending time inside a jail cell even on weekends. I don’t even know if I think drivers who are “accidentally” responsible for the deaths of other road users should go to jail. I’m not strident enough on this issue to be unable to distinguish between that and a willful disregard for the safety of others through speeding, impaired driving and whatever forms of reckless driving take your fancy.

It is beyond me, though, why this particular driver would ever be allowed to get behind the wheel of a car again. After displaying such wanton indifference and disdain in his operation of a motor vehicle, why is he banned from driving for just 2 years? What sort of right to drive are we granting people that they can strike and kill a cyclist, flee the scene in panic and/or to get their story straight and still expect to drive again after a couple years? That’s the kind of behaviour, frankly, that red flags someone’s fitness to handle the responsibility of a machine capable of inflicting death and mayhem.

And what kind of signal does such lenience send out to everyone else?ghostbike

Try to be careful, drivers. Be aware of more vulnerable users of the road. Do your best not to run over them and kill them. Even if you do – Hey! Accidents Will Happen! – we’ll bend over backwards to accommodate you. The presumption of innocence combined with the dead telling no tales.

Outcomes like this let everyone know exactly who the kings of the roads are. It’s the same sentiment expressed by the noted road warrior, then councillor, then former mayor, now again councillor, Rob Ford, when he stood up and railed against installing bike lanes. He was mocked for it but, judging from this news, it’s impossible not to acknowledge he was telling the truth.

astoundedly submitted by Cityslikr

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