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Distracted Drivers

December 8, 2008

I promise a break from the PSAs soon, but this is an important issue that relates to law.  A VeloNews column, Legally Speaking with Bob Mionske – The real daily distraction, outlines the complexity of people’s frustration with criminal laws when cyclist are injured by automobiles. 

What is interesting is that Mionske printed a letter from a district attorney who declined to prosecute a driver whose car killed a cyclist in Kansas.  The DA included a copy of Kansas case law.  The column noted,

[o]ne of the elements that is needed to prove vehicular homicide is a ‘material deviation’ from the standard of care that that a reasonable person would observe under the same circumstances. While the Kansas Supreme Court has indeed said that this ‘material deviation’ requires something more than simple negligence, it has also been quite clear that gross negligence is not required—a material deviation falls somewhere in between.

Mionske posed the question to his readers of how the law should be applied to those who are “distracted” by cell phones, putting on make up, using GPS devices, texting, reading papers, etc. and posted replies from readers who were both lawyers and non-lawyers.   

When you are driving, let the telephone call go to voicemail and wait until the car is parked to return the call.  Just because someone texts you does not mean you have to give an immediate response.  Until drivers wilfully make an effort to be less distracted, cyclists, pedestrians, pets, children and those in other motor vehicles continue to be in avoidable danger.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. John E. permalink
    December 14, 2008 8:10 am

    Yeah, but still. . .

  2. December 15, 2008 2:07 pm

    It is true that in this age of modern technologies, distraction is a major of cause traffic accidents these days. Its always a good idea to not use the cell phone while driving. Studies have also included eating in the car and reaching for objects as well.

    Here is a CNN video on the subject.

  3. Abbie permalink
    December 15, 2008 3:30 pm

    John E – stop reading emails while trying to merge on to 95.

    JL – thanks for the video update.

  4. January 4, 2009 5:28 am

    A new laW here in CA – re: texting and driving

    Although tons of controversy about the “hands free” law done last year.

    All in all, I agree it is just too easy to try to get too much done.
    Make up, food, directions/GPS, & distracting thoughts in general make for a baseline rate of accidents.

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