Drive inattentive and kill someone? No problem!

I don’t know how vehicular deaths are handled where you live, but here’s what can happen in my city.

Last September my father was riding his motorcycle, approaching an intersection at the end of a bridge. Another driver, in a truck, took his attention away from the road to put a CD in his player. Dude looks up, there, all of a sudden to him is my dad. He brakes, strikes my dad, which propels him into the vehicle in front of him. My dad dies not too much later in the hospital. The driver who caused his death wasn’t druck or high.

Well, the insurance has nearly been settled and so my sisters and I have been enquiring as to what, if any criminal charges would have been filed. Turns out he got a minor ticket for inattentive driving, and that was it. It never even went to the DA, as the responsible driver wasn’t “under the influence”

I wanted to at least be able to confront the guy with a victim’s statement, but that won’t be happening. Didn’t even want to see him jailed. A hefty fine, with maybe community service, or having hs driver’s license suspended, would have worked for me. As much as I’d like to see the driver face more consequences the only option would be to file civil charges. Since that would be too stressful for my mom, my sisters and I won’t do it.

But now I know that you can kill someone in Kansas and just have your insurance dinged.:mad:

First, sorry for the loss of your dad.

So even though you don’t want to take him to civil court to address your grief and concerns, you want the state to do this on your behalf?

Do you think that the driver has no remorse over his actions and the result loss of life? If it were me, I would be torn up over it.

Nothing to say, Baker, except I’m so sorry. That absolutely sucks.

That is awful - so sorry to hear about your loss!

Oh my. I’m so sorry Baker. If I were that driver, I would be waking up screaming from nightmares every night of my life. I’m pretty sure it would continue as long as I lived.

It’s possible they’re being severely punished, and you just don’t know about it.

I would take it to civil court if it was just me. But such an action would tear my mother up with stress, and she’s too old to go through that, as well as dealing with her lung cancer.

I’m very sorry for your loss.

I’m sure the driver didn’t skip home gloating that he got away with killing someone though. This was an accident. He should have been more careful, but what driver has not failed to give driving 100% of their attention at some point in their lives or made a mistake while driving that did not cost a life only by pure luck? It’s terrible that it happened this way and that the driver’s poor choices resulted in the death of an innocent person, but no amount of fines or punishment will undo what happened.

Baker, hopefully he has a conscience, is beyond remorse and will never commit such a horrible mistake again. Personally I’d at least investigate the merits of a suit. Regardless, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your dad.

Baker, my best hugs your way.

One thing I know, and I’m sure your Dad knew, is that when you throw that leg over the saddle you have put yourself at risk. For us there is (most times) no such thing as a “fender bender”. Any conflict or accident we get into will probably mean a hospital at the least and more times than we care to admit, a funeral. Now setting aside drunks and just talking basic accidents; I talk to my wife about this a lot. I want her to know that if I’m in that place, the situation your Dad ended up, I’m OK with that. If I was in a car, me and him would exchange information and go on. If I’m on my bike, he may have my death on his mind the rest of his life. And for me, if the situation was reversed, that would be an even worse burden than jail. Maybe I’m an odd person like that but its how I think.

Like I tell her, be angry. But don’t let that become who you are. If you can go the civil route without burdening your Mom, feel free to. But please don’t let any outcome get too hard a grip on your spirit or your life. Maybe go the other route and become an bit of an activist. Participate in awareness campaigns, stay in touch with the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) about equity and safety issues. But mostly give yourself the time to heal a little. You have 100 times more on your plate right now than anyone should face.

Wow, sorry to hear about your dad passing…

Thank you, and all the rest of you. He died doing something he loved. Very few men of his age would still have been on a motorcycle.

I find it hard to let go. Every time I see someone on a bike without a helmet I want to tell them to put one on, although that’s not what killed my dad. He had back and internal injuries, but because he wore a helmet his head was fine.

I just can’t call it an accident. The man who killed my father deliberately took his attention from the road. It wasn’t something happening to his truck, it wasn’t an unexpected noise, a flash of light, or a bird smacking into the windshield. He just wanted to play music, and that was more important than safety.

And people do that all the time. Still sucks though.

There is an awesome documentary film called From One Second to the Next. It’s by Werner Herzog.
You may find it very interesting.

I am very sorry for your loss. But it was most certainly an accident. This person did not go out that morning drunk, high or otherwise negligent in disregard for life nor did he purposely take your fathers life. In some states he would probably have to surrender his license for a while or do some community service, but having know a couple people on both sides of this, it is just a tragedy.

Im sure this person will never feel the same driving and probably has PTSD due to taking a life. But criminal law say it isn’t negligent to change your radio station or CD. If you are unhappy with this, that is why civil court exists. With the ticket proving some amount of fault, Im sure a judgement wouldnt be to hard.

While sorry for our loss…
I agree it was a accident a tragedy.

It is also human, which we all much accept we are all are and that is not a crime but something that we all need help with.

I am also thankful that is seems like technology seems to be coming to our resuse with cars that can potentially avoid such things.

It is not an eye for an eye but acceptance we all need.

I’m sympathetic to your pain, Baker.

But have you never taken your attention off the road? Because I have. I try not to, but sometimes it happens. Not out of maliciousness or deliberate recklessness. But because I’m human and I forget that I’m operating a 1 ton smashing machine.

If I killed someone’s father because I did something stupid, I don’t know how I’d live with myself. But I know one thing. I wouldn’t volunteer to go to prison over it. Would you, if you had been driver in this situation?

No, I wouldn’t have to volunteer because I’d never do what he did. I don’t have a CD player for one thing, and even if I did I wouldn’t use it. I don’t listen to or change the radio in my car. I don’t own a cellphone, and even if I did I wouldn’t use it while driving. in my first year of college, over forty years ago, I drank way too much at a Christmas party, the first time I had liquor. Even then I called a cab. People may not believe what I’ve said but it’s true.

I’m not saying I’ll never be the cause of an accident, or hurt someone with my car. But it will be an accident, not something I could have prevented.

In traffic?

Very few people would volunteer for prison under any circumstances. If you kill someone with your negligence, it shouldn’t be up to you.

All accidents can be prevented, though.

And sometimes we do something stupid stuff without ever realizing it, only because it didn’t result in anyone getting killed. And then we do it one time too many and then the realization hits.

I don’t doubt that you’ve never been distracted while you were behind the wheel. But I doubt you’ve never done anything “stupid” before. You just happened to be lucky that your stupidity didn’t kill someone.

There was one time when my nose started to bleed while I was driving. I happened to look at myself in the rearview mirror and saw the blood running out of my nose, dripping down my chin. Messing up my work clothes. I fumbled around for a paper napkin in the glove compartment with one hand on the wheel and only one eye on the road. Anything could have happened during that stressful moment. I was just fortunate that nothing did.

It’s not the same thing as what the driver in your situation did. But it was just as stupid. So that’s why I can’t judge. But you can go ahead and judge me if you want. I call myself stupid all the time (and maybe that’s why driving isn’t my most favorite activity in the world and I don’t do it that much).

I do agree that at least community service and a suspended license would have been decent punishments.

But I don’t think the victim’s family should dictate the sentence either. I get that Baker is outraged, and I know that I’d feel the same way if I were in her shoes. But unfortunately that is all irrelevant to the law. I have to say, I think that’s a good thing.

From the exchanges we’ve had, and the other things I’ve read from you, I do very much believe you. But I have to say that at least IMHO you are very exceptional. I’ve had my own distracted moments on both two and four wheels. I try very hard not to but I’m sure they happen. What did that last sign say? What time is it getting to be? Did I remember to grab my wallet? Was that Dan-o riding the opposite direction? Why does my wife keep tuning in that god-awful country music station and what am I facing at work today? It may not be a CD but it amounts to the same thing. A second to glance at my watch or take an unneeded glance in the mirror and that could be me.

If it was, I would understand his or her loved ones feeling as you do; at least I hope I would. Having someone join me in beating myself up would almost be a relief. Your wound will never fully heal; the scar will always be there. But please accept this hope and prayer that a certain peace comes along over time.

That’s apparently what Kansas considers. Other jurisdictions would have treated the case as manslaughter.

As everything with legal systems, the definitions vary enormously by location.