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  #1  
Old 01-02-2008, 09:34 PM
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K'Tesh K'Tesh is offline
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Thumbs up Vulnerable Users... It's HERE! YAY!!!

HB 3314 - Vulnerable Users of Public Right of Way went into effect yesterday 1/1/8. Too late to be used in my personal case (got hit 10/12/7), but hopefully this will raise awareness (thus preventing further crashes).


This bill creates a class of Vulnerable Users that includes anyone not in an enclosed vehicle. It creates enhanced penalties for drivers that kill or seriously injure a vulnerable user and are convicted of Careless Driving. The sentence requires:

Two mandatory court appearances (current standards do not require an appearance)
100-200 hours of community service
Completion of a traffic safety course
Up to $12,500 fine (waived if above requirements met)
One-year license suspension (waived if above requirements met, but ODOT can place an additional administrative suspension)
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  #2  
Old 01-03-2008, 08:28 AM
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Yay from me, too!

Did anyone else see the article in yesterday's Oregonian (Metro section)? Front and center, a huge color shot of riders from the New Year's Day ride. The headline was a little misleading in context of the article, however; I was disappointed that the headline says Cyclists will be safer on the road in '08, and the article made no mention of this new law at all.
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  #3  
Old 01-04-2008, 12:42 AM
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Yes, a (very very modest) step in the right direction.

Next we need a vehicular manslaughter law like other states already have so that drivers like the killer of 66-year-old Timothy O'Donnell last year (an out-of-state motorist driving carelessly and illegally on a license suspended for cause) can be held and face criminal charges (rather than being released on the spot with a (possible) moderate fine later on as is currently the routine).
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Old 01-04-2008, 03:48 PM
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The driver that killed Tim is not exactly from out of state - she's from Scappoose, I think. Or has close family there. And had a valid Idaho license and a suspended Oregon one.
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Old 01-05-2008, 12:44 AM
agramsci agramsci is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lynnef View Post
The driver that killed Tim is not exactly from out of state - she's from Scappoose, I think. Or has close family there. And had a valid Idaho license and a suspended Oregon one.
Well, I was curious when I read this, so I dug up the whole story here: http://www.forestgrovenewstimes.com/...39132490529700

I think it's important to note that the accused in this case pled no-contest to all charges, including driving on a license suspended for cause, that the "valid Idaho license" she received was due to a bureaucratic glitch, that she failed to respond to a long series of summonses, and that the authorities did not consider her "valid Idaho license" as in any way exculpatory.

So, it remains the case that in the state of Oregon it is possible to be convicted of "careless driving," violate a series of traffic laws that result in someone's death, and do it on a license suspended for cause, and yet receive no serious criminal charges or jail time, but only a $1000 fine, or possibly up to $10,000 if the authorities choose to use the new law.

Last edited by agramsci; 01-05-2008 at 01:07 AM.
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  #6  
Old 01-05-2008, 01:03 AM
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Default driver attitudes

BTW: It's also interesting to read the comments to the article I just cited, and very revealing of the attitudes of motorists. The comments of "MJ", for example, are extremely informative. His reasoning goes like this:

"Everyone breaks traffic rules all the time. Breaking a series of traffic rules that lead to someone's death should not be a basis for criminal prosecution, because then we could ALL face the possibility of criminal prosecution in the event that we were found to have violated traffic rules that resulted in someone's death."

Now, substitute for the words "Everyone breaks traffic rules all the time" for "everyone has sometimes driven after drinking" and you would have an accurate picture of the social climate in the US pre-MADD. Now, of course, things have changed a great deal, and casually drinking and driving is NOT something people accept as routine.

The difference? Draconian enforcement. The results? 50% reduction in alcohol involved road fatalities over the past 25 years.

But, there are still around 40,000 motor vehicle fatalities in the US every year. Now, what if the same draconian enforcement were applied to the realm of "careless driving"? How many lives could be saved then?

Whatever the priorities of people like "MJ" are, they aren't about "protecting the innocent," not if you count among them those 40,000 people killed, year after year...

The moral in short: If some people have to go to jail so that ALL motorists will learn by example to drive MUCH MORE carefully, if for no other reason than fear of the possible legal repercussions to THEMSELVES, thousands of lives could be saved every year. That is an entirely defensible moral tradeoff.
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Old 01-05-2008, 11:57 AM
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"Everyone breaks traffic rules all the time. Breaking a series of traffic rules that lead to someone's death should not be a basis for criminal prosecution, because then we could ALL face the possibility of criminal prosecution in the event that we were found to have violated traffic rules that resulted in someone's death." MJ

The logic, if you can call it anything close to logic, expressed in that statement makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. What do people imagine traffic rules or rules of the road are for if not to help prevent circumstances that lead to someone's death? Helping us all to avoid someone's death is exactly what rules of the road are for. There's a direct correlation between violating traffic rules designed to minimize known circumstances that can lead to a death and doing so in an instance where a death actually occurs because those rules were violated.

Is a guilty party going to be allowed to say, 'hey, you can't convict me of killing this person because violating those traffic rules doesn't always kill somebody'. Is their responsibility for causing a death going to be waived for an excuse like that?

Of course in routine, day to day use of roads, discretion in terms of the level to which people follow the rules of the road to the letter of the law is common and reasonable in many situations, but this does not, or at least should not cancel a person's responsibility if a person's discretionary adherence to the letter of the law results in a person's death, injury, property damage and so forth.

Agramsci, who is this "MJ", and where did you get his comment from? If you seached and found some of the theads to this weblog on the subject of cyclist Timothy O'Donnell's death, you would discover other people similarly claiming that violators of road rules should not be criminally convicted of violating those rules. One commenter in particular that notoriously argued this claim was someone calling themselves 'NoChain'.

Nobody should be given a homicide conviction for violations such as passing at an intersection where the roadway is marked by a double line, where a death doesn't result from those violations. The death of Timothy O'Donnel is what happened when Jennifer Knight committed that violation and in the opinion of many, consequently became responsible for it. That's the difference. In that case the decisions Jennifer Knight made in interpreting the rules of the road weren't just traffic violations. They were decisions that led directly to the death of another person. If not criminal charges, what consequences should accompany making those kinds of decisions?

Last edited by wsbob; 01-05-2008 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 01-05-2008, 12:31 PM
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Attornatus_Oregonensis Attornatus_Oregonensis is offline
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wsbob, I trust your question is rhetorical. There can be no serious argument that such recklessness is not criminal. Such an attitude will never win any public policy argument. The only thing standing between further enforcement and punishment of this kind of homicidal recklessness is our own complacency. We all need to focus our efforts on being better advocates, for everyones' safety.
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Old 01-05-2008, 07:16 PM
agramsci agramsci is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attornatus_Oregonensis View Post
wsbob, I trust your question is rhetorical. There can be no serious argument that such recklessness is not criminal. Such an attitude will never win any public policy argument. The only thing standing between further enforcement and punishment of this kind of homicidal recklessness is our own complacency. We all need to focus our efforts on being better advocates, for everyones' safety.
Ok, I basically agree with you RIGHT NOW.

But let's think about this thing VERY CAREFULLY, please.

In 1981, when Candy Lightner's daughter was murdered by a drunk driver, I don't think anyone believed that someone with in excess of 0.08 blood alcohol level (or even merely judged as "under the influence" by a cop but still lower than point oh eight) could ever face jail time for a non-injury accident.

Yet today, it's routine. Draconian? You betcha. Unfair? Maybe it is sometimes. But them's the facts.

Now, what has the result of this been? An extremely dramatic decrease in the rate of alcohol involved road fatalities in the past 25 years (around 50%).

It CAN happen. Similar things HAVE happened. And they've borne positive results. (By "it", I mean criminalizing formerly routine traffic offenses on the roads, but in particular, when they contribute to fatal or grievous bodily harm to others.)

My question is "How can we make it happen?" (Of course, the "zero-order" question that we have to address and that I've already decided in my own mind is "Would it be a good thing?", and I'm trying to argue that, yes, it would be. In fact, it is the ONLY thing that can really bring about a drastic reduction in the ongoing bloodbath that is the road system in this country today).
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  #10  
Old 01-05-2008, 09:17 PM
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Where there are problems with current law, or situations that current law isn't formulated to respond to effectively and fairly, then perhaps a good first step is to formulate new law that can. Following that, ideas for new law have to go through a process of discussion and evaluation before they're put in force.

Times change and the needs of the people making up our society change too. Situations involving bikes and motor vehicles that are occurring today and that relatively few people in past might have imagined would call for action, are occurring with greater frequency. Where bikes and motor vehicles today increasingly come together, people on bikes have been bearing the brunt of negative consequences that occur within that co-existence under the laws of today.

Maybe the concept of motor vehicles as lethal weapons still isn't credible to some people. I imagine that is changing though as we read with greater regularity about people that deliberately use a motor vehicle to end someone's life; motor homes used to run over people, cars used to run over people. I think the concept of motor vehicles role in ending people's lives by drivers of motor vehicles using them for exactly for that purpose, will receive increasing consideration by the general public as population density increases.

As the acceptance of that concept becomes more widely acknowledged, it seems likely that other levels of motor vehicle driver responsibility in the deaths of vulnerable users of the road will be considered also. I don't see that it's much of a stretch to foresee that negligence of traffic laws by motor vehicle drivers resulting in vulnerable road users death (pedestrian, cyclist, etc) will eventually carry penalties similar to deaths of people by other people using any number of different types of recognized lethal weapons.
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