San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Death Penalty For Vehicular Homicide

Here are the facts:

I am a cyclist, although I am merely a shell of my former self.  I do everything I can to avoid contact with cars and the people who drive them.  Go here and here for some of my story.  I am smart enough to know that any confrontation with a person driving a vehicle that weighs one hundred times more than I do is not going to end favorably for me.  Like most cyclists I am hated and despised by people who drive automobiles.  Like most cyclists I have been verbally and physically abused by drivers, although I have never been hit by a moving vehicle during my cycling career.  Sadly, that is not true for many of the people who ride with me.
137 cyclists per day are hit by cars.  Most of them do not die as a result of their injuries.  Roughly 2 cyclists per day die as a result of the injuries suffered when they are struck by an automobile.  The information from the government bureau quoted above does not cite who is at fault for the accidents.  I am sure that most of the drivers would claim that the cyclists were at fault because they were riding recklessly or taking up too much of the road.  My guess is that the overwhelming number of bicycle/car confrontations are the fault of the drivers of cars.
The total number of fatal car accidents has dropped by 33% in the last ten years.  During that same period of time the total number of fatal car/bicycle accidents, as a percentage of total fatalities involving cars, has gone up 22%.  I suspect that is probably because there are more cyclists on the road than there used to be.  I also suspect that more of those fatalities are the result of drivers looking at their PEDs (personal electronic devices) while they drive.  In the last year I have seen three different drivers, all Yuppies, drive off the road and onto the sidewalk, the curb and the gravel shoulder while looking intently at their PEDs.  I make a concerted effort to not ride on the roads unless I absolutely have to these days.
I have a simple proposal.  If a driver purposefully runs over and kills a cyclist that driver should be found guilty of murder and executed.  There are cases, numbered in the above statistics, in which that is precisely what happened.  Drivers enraged at cyclists for imaginary offenses we have committed have used their vehicles as weapons and murdered some of us.  A much smaller number of automobile/bicycle crashes have been the result of a genuine accident.  A genuine accident is something such as the driver suddenly having a heart attack or losing consciousness and hitting a cyclist while he careens off the road.  Accidents are accidents and, by definition, not intentional.  Accidents are accidents and, by definition, not a result of preventable negligence.  Accidents are sad events but they do happen.  It is a risk all cyclists take when they take to the road and there should be no punishment for a driver who hits a cyclist accidentally.
The great majority, I believe, of automobile/cyclist crashes are the result of negligence on the part of the drivers of the cars who hit us.  In cases where we are only injured or maimed the driver should be forced to pay for our medial bills and to also pay some sort of cash payment to cover our lost time from our vocations.
In those cases where the cyclists are killed, the drivers are found guilty of vehicular homicide.  The newspaper reports many more stories of that sort these days.  I hear many more stories of vehicular homicide than I used to.  When a driver kills a cyclist as a result of his negligence it is vehicular homicide and the punishment for that act should be death.  Biblical law requires the death penalty for homicide as a result of negligence and the civil government should as well.
We live in a time of massive PED addiction.  It is getting worse every day and I do not see any relief from the problem in the future.  Every "Stop" light I come to is the same story.  I look around at my fellow drivers and their heads are all bowed, as if in prayer, to see the latest text message asking them where they are.  When the light changes nobody moves until one of them has sent the return text asking the same question and looks up.  To give drivers an incentive to get off their PEDs and pay attention to the cyclists who share the road with them I believe a consistent enforcement of the death penalty for vehicular homicide would do the trick.

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