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  #21  
Old 09-08-2008, 11:57 AM
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Attornatus_Oregonensis Attornatus_Oregonensis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djasonpenney View Post
I know it's an extreme notion, but have we so totally abandoned making people accountable for their mistakes?

....

I know, it's just fantasy. But think of how much calmer it would make drivers.
I think you cannot constitutionally or realistically create a crime with a straight negligence standard. And when you make something that's a violation have a huge fine, which is an alternative approach, courts will analyze whether the penalty actually constitutes a criminal penalty or a civil one. So the two most seemingly obvious ways to address the problems, lowering the mental state of crimes or enhancing the penalties of traffic infractions, are not workable solutions.

So the solution has to be one that strips repeat offenders, or simply people who kill or seriously injure with their vehicle, of their driving privileges. We remove liberty all the time in an attempt to make it impossible (for some period of time) for people to commit crimes again, and we can do the same with driving. But without a mechanism for enforcing the no-drive rule, it won't work. We already know that many people who lose their licenses under existing laws drive anyway, and cause the same kinds of problems they did when they had a license. Incarceration of such people is the only way to get them off the road. It's time for such a law.

Vincentpaul is correct in saying that we have consciously created roadway infrastructure that is designed to maximize traffic flow at the expense of lives. And so yes, we have chosen to largely abandon accountability on the roadways in favor of the economic benefits. I think this is shameful. And I don't think it's fantasy to think about reversing it - particularly in places like Portland where we are talking about low speed limits and relatively little commercial traffic anyway and where there is the political will to do so.
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  #22  
Old 09-08-2008, 12:02 PM
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Attornatus_Oregonensis Attornatus_Oregonensis is offline
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Originally Posted by vincentpaul View Post
Yep. When you get a group of average folks together and actually get someone to explain the data to them, they understand that the whole traffic network is put together, in the main, so as to maximize traffic flow with whatever the designers decide is an acceptable level of accidents. The designers KNOW that they can reduce the number of accidents further.

Off topic: To be pro-cyclist, do you have to be anti-driver?
Absolutely. These data have been around for a long time. Those design features are a key factor in keeping new bicyclists off the road, and that's one of the reasons that it needs to change - aside from the obviously immoral prioritizing of dollars over lives. And I won't mention the obvious unsustainability of the current transportation system given peak oil.

So, off the topic: What does it mean to be anti-driver? Am I anti-driver if I want to enhance penalties for people who hurt others with their vehicles? Am I anti-driver if I want to enact more laws to protect cyclists, such as the Grants Pass city ordinance that requires motor vehicle operators to give cyclists more room when passing them than required by state law? Am I anti-driver if I want these things and I also drive? Or only if I don't drive?

Dare I ask, am I anti-driver if I issue (citizen-initiated) citations to people who hurt others on the roadway when the police won't?
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  #23  
Old 09-08-2008, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Attornatus_Oregonensis View Post
I think you cannot constitutionally or realistically create a crime with a straight negligence standard. And when you make something that's a violation have a huge fine, which is an alternative approach, courts will analyze whether the penalty actually constitutes a criminal penalty or a civil one. So the two most seemingly obvious ways to address the problems, lowering the mental state of crimes or enhancing the penalties of traffic infractions, are not workable solutions.
Ah, yes. Bob Mionske covers this in his book; I stand corrected (and educated)! If I understand what you're saying, we could conceivably lower the standard by which people have their driving privileges suspended, but we have to allow people a chance to reform. Is that why the California "three strikes" law is OK, that the third time is regarded as habitual so it becomes constitutional to lock you away for life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Attornatus_Oregonensis View Post
So the solution has to be one that strips repeat offenders, or simply people who kill or seriously injure with their vehicle, of their driving privileges. We remove liberty all the time in an attempt to make it impossible (for some period of time) for people to commit crimes again, and we can do the same with driving. But without a mechanism for enforcing the no-drive rule, it won't work. We already know that many people who lose their licenses under existing laws drive anyway, and cause the same kinds of problems they did when they had a license. Incarceration of such people is the only way to get them off the road. It's time for such a law.
I was thinking about this before your post: simply putting some teeth into the consequences for driving while suspended or revoked would go a very long way to what I want. A disproportionate number (I forget, but I think it's something like 25%) of all cyclist fatalities involve DUI (of either the cyclist or the motorist). The problem with this is that we'd have to make the entire suspension/revocation mechanism more cumbersome. In particular, Tim O'Donnell's killer had her license suspended but she had not been notified; right now DMV just mails you a notice, and if/when you get the notice is your problem. Wouldn't we have to serve process on a driver, to ensure they had been notified, before we could exact these kinds of consequences?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Attornatus_Oregonensis View Post
Vincentpaul is correct in saying that we have consciously created roadway infrastructure that is designed to maximize traffic flow at the expense of lives. And so yes, we have chosen to largely abandon accountability on the roadways in favor of the economic benefits. I think this is shameful. And I don't think it's fantasy to think about reversing it - particularly in places like Portland where we are talking about low speed limits and relatively little commercial traffic anyway and where there is the political will to do so.
This is an eloquent restatement of my concern. Do you realize more people die in traffic accidents every two months than died in all of the 9/11 atrocity? The cheapening of human life for the sake of convenience truly sickens me.
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The driver of a motor vehicle may only pass a person operating a bicycle by driving to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance and returning to the lane of travel once the motor vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle. For the purposes of this paragraph, a “safe distance” means a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic....

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  #24  
Old 09-08-2008, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djasonpenney View Post
If I understand what you're saying, we could conceivably lower the standard by which people have their driving privileges suspended, but we have to allow people a chance to reform. Is that why the California "three strikes" law is OK, that the third time is regarded as habitual so it becomes constitutional to lock you away for life?
No, I was trying to say that we can't lower the mental state required for a crime - any crime - below criminal negligence. And we can't raise the fine indefinitely for a traffic infraction (not a crime) or it can become a crime. Both of those things would implicate our constitutional rights, but I'm not sure exactly how - anyone?

Instead we could simply suspend or revoke your license for more or less any reason. Killing someone ought to be sufficient for at least a suspension. So that's a better avenue of punishment and perhaps more effective, but only (of course) if you can actually keep those folks off the road.


Quote:
Originally Posted by djasonpenney View Post
I was thinking about this before your post: simply putting some teeth into the consequences for driving while suspended or revoked would go a very long way to what I want. A disproportionate number (I forget, but I think it's something like 25%) of all cyclist fatalities involve DUI (of either the cyclist or the motorist). The problem with this is that we'd have to make the entire suspension/revocation mechanism more cumbersome. In particular, Tim O'Donnell's killer had her license suspended but she had not been notified; right now DMV just mails you a notice, and if/when you get the notice is your problem. Wouldn't we have to serve process on a driver, to ensure they had been notified, before we could exact these kinds of consequences?
Dunno, but I like it.



Quote:
Originally Posted by djasonpenney View Post
Do you realize more people die in traffic accidents every two months than died in all of the 9/11 atrocity? The cheapening of human life for the sake of convenience truly sickens me.
About 42,000 people each year in the US. In the last 10 years, we've lost about the same number of lives we lost in all of WWII. USDOT and ODOT both say that the single largest cause is excessive speed, but police departments nationwide are totally ineffective at enforcing speed limits and, even when they do, create their own well-known +5 mph (or whatever) rule that they actually enforce.
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  #25  
Old 09-08-2008, 05:08 PM
Psyfalcon Psyfalcon is offline
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Do you have any links on the excessive speed part? Those that I have seen show that speed wise, drivers often pick a fairly safe speed, while ignoring marked limits. A much bigger problem is distraction.

You have to be careful with traffic statistics though. For example, federally at least, all rear end collisions are "exessive speed." Even the ones downtown at 15mph or the ones in stop and go traffic waiting to cross into Vancouver. While these tend to be non fatal, they're really "not paying attention" crashes, not excessive speed.
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  #26  
Old 09-08-2008, 09:18 PM
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I don't have any links, but if you go to the US DOT and ODOT sites and poke around in the "road safety" links, you will find their attributions. The most recent ODOT one says 56%, or something similar, of fatalities caused at least in part by excessive speed.

I'm pretty sure the stuff I read was discussing the cause of fatalities, not including crashes only causing property damage. But if you feel like looking for it, you might be able to be more precise.
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  #27  
Old 09-08-2008, 11:29 PM
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Excerpt from Vincent's comment #16:

Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentpaul View Post
And my main point is that you cant expect human beings to react like robots, they're going to make judgment errors, and they often should not be held responsible for judgment errors, even when they are at "fault." It should take something more than mere "fault" to incarcerate someone. Criminally negligence is the current standard, and its a good one. If this was a close run of the red light, it'd be difficult to persuade a jury. You'd be hard pressed to find an honest driver of any experience who wouldn't admit to having run one at some point in their life.

By the way, I once used a transportation engineer as an expert in the trial for criminally negligent homicide of a client who ran a red. The jury was persuaded that there was no criminal negligence.
For me at least, regarding the traffic violation resulting in the collision reported by the OP, Vincent's point above is apropos. Vincent, can you tell us anything more about how the jury was persuaded to decide to in the defendant's favor?
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  #28  
Old 09-09-2008, 01:32 AM
Tait Tait is offline
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Toward the goal of actually making some of these changes, does the BTA, Cascade Bicycle Club, or any of the other cycling groups have issues like this on their radar? Is there any pressure on the political system to make these changes?

I can see a repeat offense law requiring a little more political capital to get moving, but something like changing the definition of serious injury in the vulnerable users law ought to be relatively easy going (or am I just in fantasy-land here?).*

We could pursue these kinds of changes through referendum, but that seems harder than some lobbying effort. What would be the most effective way to pursue these kinds of specific legal changes that would make our life (as cyclists) better?

* aside: Is anyone keeping track of all these little issues on some kind of wish list or does this stuff just fly by the forums and get forgotten?
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  #29  
Old 09-09-2008, 07:50 AM
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Attornatus_Oregonensis Attornatus_Oregonensis is offline
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Yes tait, I can tell you that BTA is tracking this.
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  #30  
Old 09-09-2008, 07:57 AM
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Re: speed: I think people generally pick a speed that they are comfortable going, regardless of the actual posted speed limit.

I don't think it overtly has anything to do with safety... people get comfortable at a speed, and they tend to go that speed.

If it was about safety, you wouldn't see everyone attempting to go 70+mph on I-5 from Wilsonville to the Washington Border. The roadway itself, in spots, is not conducive to safely traveling at those speeds-- unless you have special training in driving at higher speeds, a la race drivers. Where the roadway IS conducive to higher speeds, traffic loads prevent safely maintaining that speed. Even with that special training a la race drivers.
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