Questioning Sen. Hogg about the consequences of careless driving

At the second stop on State Sen. Robb Hogg’s fifth annual bike ride through his Eastern Iowa district on Sunday, he was asked about the potential consequences of one of his fellow bicyclists’ being killed by a careless driver.

Paraphrasing my own question here: Shouldn’t a person whose careless driving causes the death of another person face time behind bars as a possible penalty?

Well, the answer seems to be, now paraphrasing Sen. Hogg’s various comments:

  • I’m not sure we should be sending people to prison because of legitimate accidents. (I agreed that not every incident should be resolved by throwing someone in jail, but maintained that the state should allow for jail or prison time as a possible outcome for someone whose carelessness causes death or injury.)
  • Sometimes accidents just happen. (I said we could have quite a long debate over what deadly situations can be prevented and what might be termed – legitimately if vaguely – “accidents.” Most traffic “accidents” can be avoided if people take their driving responsibilities seriously and pay attention to what is going on around them.)
  • We need to do more to make bicycling safer. The Iowa Senate did pass a bicyclists’ Bill of Rights. (True on both counts, but that Bill of Rights is meaningless without corresponding success in the Iowa House and a governor’s signature. What have you done for us lately? What will you do now?)

Presently, I can turn my motor vehicle in front of you as you ride your bicycle down the street, causing a collision that leads to your death, then drive away with a simple traffic ticket and, maybe, a guilty conscience.

As Sen. Hogg and others have asked, in one way or another, “Isn’t it enough that I will have to think about that for the rest of my life?”

Well, no. It’s not.

You should think about the consequences of careless driving before your careless driving kills someone. If you know you could wind up behind bars, maybe you will think harder when it counts.

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2 Responses to “Questioning Sen. Hogg about the consequences of careless driving”

  1. 1 Jim August 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks for the blog. It’s very eye opening.

    The response to causing a death through negligence: “Isn’t it enough that I will have to think about that for the rest of my life?”

    Isn’t it enough for whom?

    For the families that have to live without their mother, father, sibling?

    I find the Senator’s comments incredible. Why not agree to explore the issue at the very least?

    What’s a bill of rights without teeth?

  2. 2 Larry Howe August 24, 2010 at 11:53 am

    And he is a “bicycle friendly” liberal thinking member of our state legislature. What kind of reaction would someone less open to our cause have? We have a LOT of work to do to make our roadways safe for all users.

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