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from Gabby, the AIM bot.

The Spears family skeletons have appeared! Apparently Lynne Spears killed a young boy back in 1975 when she was just 20 years old! Obviously it was an accident but The National Enquirer dug up the story and now it rears its ugly head! The young boy, named Anthony Winters, was riding his bicycle when Spears ran him over. According to Spears' representative, "Anthony Winters and his friend were in the road on a curve on a bicycle. As Lynne rounded the curve she could not avoid the boy in the street as there was oncoming traffic in the opposite lane." A friend of the family went on to say, "To this day, Lynne hasn't gotten over what she did. She gets that terrified look in her eye when she is thinking about it. She has told only a few people about the accident and always says, 'Please don't think I'm a bad person.'"

As you can read, "an accident" as always. Damn bikers, get off the road! I know the National Enquirer is a great source of info! :idea:
 

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Hit a cyclist, get a pass.

I've been b!tching (and writing) about this kind of thing for years. A few years ago near Reno, somebody ran off a mountain road and killed two cyclists, from Germany I think. They were on the shoulder, way over, and had ridden all the way across the country without a problem. It was "an accident" and the driver got a small fine and a few hours of community service. There have been a few others here and in California, and it's always the same: The driver didn't MEAN to do it, so it wouldn't be fair to insist on real punishment.
 

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I can't advocate either side of this. Having this incident involving Lynne Spears is inconsequential to my opinions. Doing something terrible is not always intentional. Feeling bad about doing something bad does not make it go away, make it right, or alleviate the tragedy.

The Nat. Enquirer is probably digging up history during a slow news week or something, and that is what I find dirty. Lynne Spears (who I had to look up to figure out who it was) probably doesn't enjoy being reminded of this (as the article states), but the family of the boy probably doesn't like old wounds torn open.

I also never enjoy the feeling or the attitudes that I see about these bikes vs cars posts. Fueling the flames doesn't help anyone... That includes this thread and even my post. Sorry. Rant over.
 

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Cory said:
I've been b!tching (and writing) about this kind of thing for years. A few years ago near Reno, somebody ran off a mountain road and killed two cyclists, from Germany I think. They were on the shoulder, way over, and had ridden all the way across the country without a problem. It was "an accident" and the driver got a small fine and a few hours of community service. There have been a few others here and in California, and it's always the same: The driver didn't MEAN to do it, so it wouldn't be fair to insist on real punishment.
Wow. You'd think that killing someone, even 'accidentally', would draw at least involuntary manslaughter. Insanity. :eek:

...
 

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i agree re: too light sentences for ppl in cars that run over cyclists...

the issue is, manslaughter is still not a suitable charge... what is really needed is the legislature to make a new charge eg, 1) reckless driving causing injury and 2) same causing death.

juries will not find the mens rea required for manslaughter, it is not a strict liability crime (that is you not only require the act, but also the mental state that you knew that your action could kill in the circumstances the person in question)... juries will seldom find this in the circumstances... the fundamental problem is that almost everyone drives and does not want themselves in a similar circumstance as the defendant.

legislation is the only answer for a specific crime w/ a specific application of both mens rea and actus reus.. only, the same reservations that juries have in convicting drivers of manslaughter is also had by representatives who at this stage, are unwilling to recognise the crime. sad, b/c thru the whole thing i still think the deterrence aspect of heavy penalties for careless or dangerous driving is being overlooked for the sake of clemency and leniency on otherwise 'productive' members of society..

the sad result is that cyclists under the current laws who are severely injured or killed on the roads, will only have their vindication and day of justice in court, only when a person of questionable character overtly signals their intention to seriously injure or kill the cyclist and there are people to witness it. It is an almost overwhelming burden to overcome for prosectutors.

if you still feel strongly about it, write your representative and/or attorney general of your state for the legislation we need to feel safe.
 

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Isn't manslaughter a reckless act that leads to the death of a person. A high school classmate of mine was doing 100 mph in an old Mercury Cougar and ended up T-Boning an old lady trying to cross the intersection. He killed her and was found guilty of manslaughter. I don't know if he did any time for it, but I know he was on probation for quite a while.

Here is Maryland's definition, and there doesn't appear to be any mens rea required:

§ 2-209. Manslaughter by vehicle or vessel



<center>"Vehicle" defined</center>
(a) In this section, "vehicle" includes a motor vehicle, streetcar, locomotive, engine, and train.


<center>Prohibited</center>
(b) A person may not cause the death of another as a result of the person's driving, operating, or controlling a vehicle or vessel in a grossly negligent manner.


<center>Name of crime</center>
(c) A violation of this section is manslaughter by vehicle or vessel.


<center>Penalty</center>
(d) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.
 

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nice act ! i like... CL manslaughter requires (as i understand it) the foresight that doing a thing can result in the type of injury (death) caused... there has to be foresight...

i'm in a diff jurisdiction but there it is.... there are diff types negligent manslaughter, involuntary etc...

for the case of going 100mph, it isn't that hard to impute that a person of normal intelligence could foresee death or severe injury.... the problem w/ manslaughter (and other chrages) in this jurisdiction (a state of australia) is that the type of injury caused has to be foreseeable.... we have had mistrials here b/c of judges who have misdirected juries re: foresight...

its a crap burden... like i said the solution in those cases is specific legislation.... the maryland one is not bad ! i like - that does make it a strict liability offence if you kill some one while driving which is good.... i would like more explicit legislation tho, then again the punishment proscribed in that section is fairly weak... manslaughter here is max 20yrs
 

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"Mens rea" simply refers to the mental state of the actor (as opposed to the "actus rea"). You're correct that this statute does not require the "specific intent" to cause the death (that's a higher crime), but it does require "gross negligence." Gross negligence is conduct that is so reckless that it demonstrates a substantial lack of concern for whether an injury will result. It's harder to prove than it appears and my suspicion is that Maryland's conviction rate for cyclists killed by drivers is no better than any other state.
 

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CleavesF said:
According to Spears' representative, "Anthony Winters and his friend were in the road on a curve on a bicycle. As Lynne rounded the curve she could not avoid the boy in the street as there was oncoming traffic in the opposite lane."
Providing this is a true account, that's the usual sequence of events in such circumstances. Given the choice between a head-on collision with another car and hitting a cyclist, most people would hit the cyclist in an automatic panic reaction. Not sure what I would chose, but I suspect it wouldn't be the head-on collision either. Traffic participants kill other traffic participants all the time—the law can't be applied differently just because the victim happens to be a cyclist. Same roads, same rights.
 

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wankski said:
i agree re: too light sentences for ppl in cars that run over cyclists...

the issue is, manslaughter is still not a suitable charge... what is really needed is the legislature to make a new charge eg, 1) reckless driving causing injury and 2) same causing death.
Reckless driving causing death is pretty much the definition of "vehicular homicide" in some states. But a prosecutor have to show the recklessness (or gross negligence in some states).
 

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Give me a break. You can't punish people for accidents. Tens of thousands of people die in automobile accidents every year. Do you expect the survivors to be imprissoned. I think most of the forum members drive a car and a bike and realize that accidents happen. Reckless negligence like the 100mph example are different.
 

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Good point re: same roads, same rules.

And Goldsbar makes the other half: if we don't hold car-on-car wrecks to the accountability standard, why would / should we expect car-on-bike to be any different.

But here's where I disagree with Goldsbar: the fact that so many people are dying in what are clearly _preventable_ tragedies is a social issue that needs to be addressed. We all know the stats - car accidents kill a lot more people than guns, for example.

And anyone that has a driver's license has passed the written test and therefore knows that "it isn't that hard to impute that a person of normal intelligence could foresee death or severe injury"

So it sounds to me like the legal ingredients are already in place; what's missing is a mutual sense of accountability. As drivers, we're all giving each other free passes because it's "an accident"

Do we do the same for airline pilots?
Bus drivers?
Nuclear plant operators?
Roller coaster operators?

Now do you see the hypocrisy?
 

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goldsbar said:
Give me a break. You can't punish people for accidents. Tens of thousands of people die in automobile accidents every year. Do you expect the survivors to be imprissoned. I think most of the forum members drive a car and a bike and realize that accidents happen. Reckless negligence like the 100mph example are different.
No one should be punished for a true accident, but how many accidents are preventable? I'd guess most of them are, to some degree. We give too many passes for driving too fast, not paying attention, and not following the rules of the road. Face it, many people are just terrible drivers, and don't have a lot of concern about anyone else on the road. If we start punishing people for easily preventable "accidents," we would have a lot less easily preventable accidents, either because people would shape up, or because our worst drivers would be locked up.
 

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Amen! People are too uncomfortable with the mortality involved with driving, so we call them "accidents." I would argue 99% of the time they are due to negligence. There may be some exceptional circumstances due to weather, or hitting an unmarked oil slick, etc., but even then, there is generally some culpability somewhere.

I really hate the word "accident."

Generally, in the US, the law is extremely permissive when it comes to vehicular crimes. Driving while revoked is treated very lightly--- as are DUIs. Drivers Ed is virtually non-existent compared to other parts of the developed world. Driving is like some bizarre vestige of the wild west.

There are not even any routine vehicle safety inspections in the US. Quite strange, really.
 

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exactly my view - not just drivers v cyclists, but holding driving as a socially premissive activity up to a higher standard generally...

they are not accidents - many of the stories reported on the news are completely stupid ********s, and many get off for a first charge.... then there are lovely examples of repeat offenders getting away with more...

privilige, not a right... u'd think with the current pressures re: enviornment, fuel costs, congestion, (obesity) that a review of driving laws would be advisable... we have to grow up as a society.

my head just explodes when we treat the death of one person as a great tragedy, but every year we lose thousands on the road, as an acceptable 'toll' for people throwing around guided missles everyday. what do we say as a society? 'hurry up, bury your kid, move along.' only, the other driver was driving on the wrong side of the road.

for too long, age, the influence of drugs, or a 'condition' is used to mitigate fault in many jurisdictions. I say no more ! people must reasonably assess their competence to drive, and if they cause an accident - its negligent homicide. For too long we say the general population is smart enough to drive, but not smart enuff to put 2 and 2 together and face up to their responsibilities... its an 'accident' - 'the defendent is not a pharmacist, an expert on the effects of drugs, they are not required to run simulated tests of the effects of chemical agents on preception and reaction, this defendent, a green-grocer by trade, could not have known' etc... get real... too dumb to read the possible side-effects and have concern for other people's safety = too dumb to drive.

secondly, all cars should pay a registration fee every year in all states - a compenent of this should be compulsory 3rd party medical and PROPERTY insurance. If a car is found unregistered for the year without reasonable excuse, it is confiscated and sold.

also, the classic tort argument against insurance is that it removes responsibility since there is a Co to pick up the tab... especially richer folk who will opt for comprehensive insurance.... Easily fixed.... fines should scale with the persons earnings/wealth/*standard of living*, to return the effect of deterrence to all drivers.

ANY person who has a DUI conviction, must have a interlock device fitted to their car. If they are caught driving someone elses car, that car will still need to have it installed to put the onus on owners to think about who they lend their cars to (unless car is stolen of course)... The ultimate goal would be to have a minimum-effort device factory fitted to all new cars as a regulation (much like air bags) sometime in the future (eg, voice operated ignition/start with inbuilt breath detector - newer units pick up more than just alcohol)
 
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