Justice gains a litte ground

The following article is about a crash very similar to the one in Texas that Keri wrote about in this post — cyclists on the shoulder hit by an inattentive driver who was not found to be impaired, texting or on the phone. The difference in this case is the attitude of the county prosecutor’s office. Kudos to Deputy prosecutor David Bustamante!

Be sure to read the comments, too. The public attitude toward negligent driving is the primary reason we so rarely see justice… and why we’ve seen increasing trends toward inattentive and careless driving on our roads.

I guess it’s “just an accident” until it’s your loved one who’s mowed down by a negligent driver.

In the UK, the CTC, a national cyclist organization, has a campaign to stop “SMIDSY”

SMIDSY = Sorry Mate, I didn’t see you.

Stop SMIDSY aims to address the far too common attitude that simply saying ‘Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You’ somehow erases an act of bad driving. This is not true and it must be stopped.”

We need a similar campaign in the U.S. What should we call ours?

Charge filed after cyclist killed

BY JACOB JONES – The Daily World
Thursday, December 24, 2009 2:20 PM PST

After a five-month investigation, the Pacific County Prosecutor’s Office has filed a vehicular homicide charge against a Montesano man for allegedly crashing into two bicyclists and killing one in July.

Deputy prosecutor David Bustamante said he filed a charge for negligent driving against 51-year-old Gregory R. Cedell earlier this month in the death of Carolyn M Girod, 31, of Cambridge, Mass.

A State Patrol report described Cedell’s crime as a type of aggravated negligence, alleging his box van drifted across a Highway 105 fog line and struck the bicyclists on July 8 north of Raymond. MORE

11 replies
  1. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    I am VERY familiar with the road in question – it’s right off the route from Seattle to Long Beach. The motorist should have stopped at Clark’s Restaurant instead of driving while “zoned out.” Absent really excessive speed. drunkenness, or other egregious factor, it’s hard to imagine why else a motorist would drift off the main road to hit anything, much less pair of human beings.

    Thanks for this one – I plan to move to either Pacific County or Ocean Shores when I leave North Texas. If Bustamante ever runs to replace his boss, David Burke, I’d vote for him, even if he IS a Democrat. He’s a good guy and a hard worker.

  2. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    An interesting question. What to call the US version of “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You”?

    As one of those riders (way back when) who had been told that expression so many times, but without the “sorry” part, I tried to figure out why I was not seen.

    I wasn’t where they were looking!

    Unfortunately, there are officers out there who don’t really have an understanding of the whole situation, even to the point of writing a citation to someone who was struck by a motor vehicle:

  3. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Hmm, after looking at the link fred_dot_u provided, I thought the name looked VERY familiar. Sure enough, there was a previous post on him here at CommuteOrlando. Some guy named fred_dot_u commented on that post four times, and another named Steve A also commented on it. Mr Frings seems to make an occupation of having close calls and getting run off the road. Seems to me, that if he’s going to get ticketed for violating a FTR law where he was riding, he might as well get his money’s worth and ride where motorists aren’t encouraged to pass when there is not enough room for them to do so without making a full lane change. Ironically, had he been doing so, he’d not have gotten clipped and would not now have to defend against a ticket since no police involvement would have occurred. I think fred_dot_u would be inclined to agree with me on this.

    Original post here involving Mr Frings was about busses passing:

  4. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    The Canadian equivalent of “negligent driving” is “dangerous driving.” Except the police here lay charges even when nobody is actually killed. Sometimes when there is not even a crash. Just dangerous driving.

    I previously posted a link here where this charge was laid when someone was driving crazy fast. No crash, just dangerous driving.

    It is my opinion that this is one of the major reasons why Ontario’s roads are the safest in North America. Our justice system ensures that dangerous drivers serve long jail terms BEFORE they kill someone.

  5. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    Steve A, fred_dot_u agrees with you fully on that. fred_dot_u’s memory is quite faulty and does not recall the earlier post, so I was pleased to see that my posts were not inflammatory or objectionable.

    In the link I posted, it would appear that the three-foot law wasn’t being observed either, but that’s simply an example of a worthless piece of legislature, in my opinion.

  6. Eric
    Eric says:

    “Mr Frings seems to make an occupation of having close calls and getting run off the road.”

    Precisely the type of “cycling expert” I was thinking of when I made the Accident Prone post.

    If you watch the video in this one:
    http://bikesafer.blogspot.com/2009/11/ironically_03.html you can see how the driver was puzzling out how to pass him without crossing the double yellow. After hesitating a couple of times (Mr. Frings calls it swerving towards him) the driver finally “goes for it” and clips Frings.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      I watched the video. It looks like an assault to me. The driver is swerving back and forth and honking at him, buzzes him and then cuts to the edge in front of him and stops (1:04).

      It’s absurd that the cyclist was ticketed!

      • Eric
        Eric says:

        You are right Keri,
        I stopped watching when the camera showed weeds. I didn’t realize that he had another camera and it looks very different from the front.

        As to the FTR ticket, I wouldn’t be surprised if that wouldn’t have happened here. My opinion of Law Enforcement when it comes to cycling is pretty darned low. He might be able to win that in court, though.

  7. Keri
    Keri says:

    Back to the topic of the post…

    It’s difficult to go against the grain of the culture. Bustamante will probably get a lot of negative feedback, I hope the cycling community counteracts that with a lot of positive feedback.

    But this isn’t just important to cyclists. It’s important to all road users.

    Ultimately, we must move toward the attitudes expressed by Ontario law. We accept dangerous and negligent driving in this country and we enable it (like one enables an addict) through everything from road engineering to law enforcement. And it has lowered our quality of life in the same insidious way as living with an addict does.

    Somewhere, someone has to be brave enough to take a stand. Congratulations Mr. Bustamante! And thank you!

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