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Unbelievable.

The Robert Novak defense is alive and well. Plus: it really works.

I'm willing to give Novak a pass since it did turn out he had a brain tumor, but this is really just sad.

So, if you leave your windshield obscured, and you do not pay attention, its all OK when you kill someone? I wonder what would happen if you were careless with a loaded gun and killed someone?

It also seems that the prosecutor dropped the ball: he reiterated the incorrect standard stated by the police, and she gets off with a fine. I suggest we write to the Gov. and ask him to fire the prosecutor.

If I'm inattentive and hit a car, I'd be or my insurance company would be responsible for fixing damage to that car. It would probably run into thousands of dollars. But if I kill a cyclist, I just owe $$313. Good deal Maryland, good deal.

Disgusting outcome to a preventable tragedy.

I agree that the penalty was grossly inadequate in this case. I have a question and a thought:

1) I think that we all agree that it's not OK to kill someone, but we do make distinctions relating to state of mind. What *would* an appropriate penalty be in this case? A greater fine? Revocation of license? A few months in jail? Something else?

2) Practicable and safe vs. possible: my feeling is that posters are hanging too much on the fine points of this distinction. As far as I know, no one is arguing that a cyclist's wheels should be flush with the edge of the pavement. Once we put aside this scenario, the distinction more or less falls away. "Possible" should be taken as shorthand for "possible without compromising safety."

In this case, I'm assuming that the police and the prosecutor have deemed that considerations of practicality (safety, prudence, or whatever) did not warrant the cyclist riding in the center of the road, therefore the cyclist was *not* following the law, therefore this mitigates the motorist's responsibility. This was the officer's point: call it practicable or call it possible, the outcome will be the same.

This may not be a good outcome, and the facts of the case may not support the conclusion, but I don't really see how the semantic distinction changes things. Let's say that we want to argue that cyclists often need to "take the lane" to be safe. It's a good argument, but I think that you'll find disagreements with motorists and law enforcement will not hang on whether the safety of cyclists should be the guiding principle, but rather upon rather taking the lane makes them safer.

Can the family sue for monetary damages in a wrongful death suit?

Guez: I was just reading a Maryland case from 1977 in which a drunk driver killed a 10 year old girl on her bike, and got manslaughter. The court did note that the girl was not mroe than 2 feet from the edge of the road, as required by statute. It would seem that the keep to the right rule, as erroneously construed by the police and prosecutor, may have been a real factor in the Leyermeister case.

The girl who ran the trucker off the Chesapeake Bay bridge, killing him, was fined $470 according to this:
http://tinyurl.com/y9q5wmb
The posting also states that the trucker's family is suing the girl, claiming that she was drunk.

guez. I think loss of license would be a good start. Though I'm not advocating it, I suspect that a shotgun approach of de-licensing every road user who kills another road user would probably make the roads safer. I would support a narrower approach of de-licensing any road user who, while breaking the law, kills another.

Despite what the prosecuter says, I see this as negligent homicide. Her failure to remove the dew from her window was, in my opinion, gross negligence. That probably not what case law has established, but in my opinion it was. So yes, I'd like to see her serve some amount of time, but far less than the 10 year maximum for vehicular manslaughter. If I were pulling numbers out of the air - less than a year in jail and 2-4 years without a license afterward.

I disagree with your point about the officer's interpretation of the law. I think the officer was clearly stating that in his opinion there is no difference between pratical and possible. You're being very generous to him, I think, by putting words into his mouth that constitute a more nuanced interpretation of the facts than the very simple thing he said.

In fact, at no point have I seen anyone in this investigation discuss any of the exceptions to the "far right as practicable" rule and explain why each was not pertinent. Again, I think your assumptions are far too generous. All we have is what they have said. And what they have said is that a bike should not be in the center of the lane.

I agree entirely agree Washcycle, especially automatic loss of license for any accident causing death or serious injury. Readmission should require a more stringent testing than the present joke.
It gets back to the idea of the license as a privilege, not a right.

I think the officer was clearly stating that in his opinion there is no difference between practical and possible.

Yes, that's what he said, but things are not as simple as you make them out to be. There's still the critical question of what he *meant* by practical/possible.

Again, I think your assumptions are far too generous. All we have is what they have said. And what they have said is that a bike should not be in the center of the lane.

No, no, no. They emphatically said nothing of the kind, at least not in the excerpt that you reproduce here. What they said was that *this* bike was "in the middle of the road" (which could mean any number of things) and that "a bicyclist is required to ride on a roadway’s shoulder if it’s usable or as close to the edge of the roadway as possible," which does not necessarily preclude a cyclist from riding in the center of the lane in certain circumstances.

As much as I will fight to prevent laws that prohibit unequal punishment of distractions (ie cell phones v. kids) there needs to be a uniform standard of punishment for negligence that kills someone.....and what is wrong with the Sharia solution, kill and be killed or at least pay a blood price equal to the deceased life?

It would cure many of the road-rage problems we see today if it was enforced....

@textedit
But if I kill a cyclist, I just owe $$313

Certainly the family can sue for wrongful death in Civil Court (ala OJ Simpson). But how much money do you think a 20 year has when she is already whining that $313 is beyond her means?

As for revoking licenses - it is too late to accomplish much good by revoking her license though I would do so. Rather, I think we, as a society, need to send a much tougher message for *any* moving violation.

I would revoke licenses for excessive speeding, distracted driving, running red lights, failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalk, etc. The period doesn't have to be long. Maybe a couple of days to a couple of months depending on the severity. I also would make the revocation effective immediately.

The penalty for driving with a revoked license - immediate jail and hefty fine up to and including forfeiture of the car!

guez, you're right in that they didn't say that here. But I was referring to previous times.

Police said the fact that Leymeister was traveling in the main roadway, rather than on the shoulder, was considered a major contributor in the crash.

"It was in the travel portion of the roadway, centered in the westbound lane," state police Cpl. Derek Peck said at the Leonardtown barrack that afternoon. "He's supposed to be on the [paved] shoulder."

On the westbound portion of Clarks Landing Road where the collision occurred, there is an improved shoulder that is 3 feet 4 inches wide at the point of impact. Mr. Leymeister’s bicycle was 4 feet 8 inches left of the white edge line in a lane of travel that is 9 feet 7 inches wide. This places Mr. Leymeister’s bicycle a full 8 feet from the right edge of the pavement when he was struck. It would therefore be inappropriate for a bicycle to commute/travel that far into a designated lane of travel and certainly be classified as one of the primary causes of this collision.

No where is there a mention of when a cyclist can ride in the center of the lane. Which means they never discuss why those reasons don't apply. The last statement is pretty clear. His logic goes "He was in the center of the lane even though there was a shoulder, therefore that is inappropriate." Which isn't the law.

Maryland State Statute § 21-1205.1

(b) Roadway with bike lane or shoulder paved to smooth surface.-

(1) Where there is a bike lane paved to a smooth surface or a shoulder paved to a smooth surface, a person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter shall use the bike lane or shoulder and may not ride on the roadway, except in the following situations:

(i) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, motor scooter, pedestrian, or other vehicle within the bike lane or shoulder if the overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the bike lane or shoulder;

(ii) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway;

(iii) When reasonably necessary to leave the bike lane or shoulder to avoid debris or other hazardous condition; or

(iv) When reasonably necessary to leave the bike lane or shoulder because the bike lane or shoulder is overlaid with a right turn lane, merge lane, or other marking that breaks the continuity of the bike lane or shoulder.

(2) A person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter may not leave a bike lane or shoulder until the movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after giving an appropriate signal.

What's your point Jason?

"He was in the center of the lane even though there was a shoulder, therefore that is inappropriate." Which isn't the law.

Assuming that none of the exceptions apply, that *is* the law, isn't it? And if the exceptions don't apply in this instance, why would you expect Cpl. Peck or the prosecutor to mention them?

well guez, we'll never know why he wasn't hugging the left side of the road. The only one who knows is dead.

I meant right side.

Washcycle wrote: In fact, at no point have I seen anyone in this investigation discuss any of the exceptions to the "far right as practicable" rule and explain why each was not pertinent.

Please see http://onelesscar.org/page.php?id=285

The problem with Maryland Traffic law is that if a person is just in violation of a rule and no other harm (think speeding) the fine is is a max $X, if there was property damage the fine is still a max $X and if you kill someone the same max $X applies.

The fine here is probably appropriate if she just hit a roadside fence (property damage) but for killing someone?

guez, I'm not willing to assume that none of the exceptions apply. As the MBPAC points out, both the traffic lane and shoulder were too narrow. Others who have been to the site say that there is a mailbox that blocks part of the shoulder and that the shoulder had other hazards. The MPD has never discussed these issues.

Either the cyclist was breaking the law or the MPD has misinterpreted it. There is some evidence that it was not the former, but no evidence that the MPD properly considered the exceptions. As such, if I'm going to be doing any assuming, it will be that the MPD misinterpreted the law - which is also the position of the MBPAC.

My guess is that the position of the cyclist (in the travel lane and not on the shoulder) will mean that the family of the victim will lose any civil suit, Maryland being a contributory negligence state and all.

That the driver asked for a reduction in the fine is almost unbelievable. The judge should've thrown her in jail on the spot for contempt. At least then she might show some remorse.

guez: regarding the "as far right as practicable" see the recent posting on this issue, in which a MD quasi-government board provides interpretation of the law, and its application to the Leymeister case. Essentially, the statement by the police is incorrect. Also note that the "as far right" rule applies only to certain surfaces, and does not apply if the person is avoiding debris, turning left, etc.

I'm just glad I don't live out in the exurbs. What a bunch of f-ing animals these people are...

The State Police backed away from their initial insistence that he should have used the shoulder, as it was clearly not adequate for a cyclist.

The lane is 9'7". Maryland's keep-right law only applies when the lane can be safely shared by a cyclist and a motorist -- the corporal admitted as much in his "open letter." Maryland allows vehicles to be as wide as 8'8" without special permits -- not counting mirrors. With mirrors something like a UPS truck or a bus is close to 10' wide. There's no way a 9'7" lane is shareable.

As to whether a different position would have avoided an accident: she was driving a Honda Accord, which according to Honda's website is 73 inches wide. Her car is 42 inches narrower than the lane. By all accounts she was driving down the middle of the lane, which would allow 21 inches on either side. Vehicle widths don't include mirrors, so if we allow six inches for the mirrors that puts her mirror 15 inches from the edge of the road. At 40 mph it's hard to imagine any lane position that would have resulted in a different result.

Assuming that none of the exceptions apply, that *is* the law, isn't it? And if the exceptions don't apply in this instance, why would you expect Cpl. Peck or the prosecutor to mention them?

But in fact the exceptions do apply, as noted by people who viewed and photographed the scene. There was a mailbox, branch, etc. on the shoulder. That's the whole point to the complaints about Peck and his statements. Indeed the State Police later disowned Peck's statements, saying (in a letter to one cyclist), "Corporal Peck's comments were an unfortunate choice of statements and this fact has been addressed with him to ensure the use of better judgment on his part in the future." But Peck's boss also made statements that were part of the problem, and apparently so did the prosecutor.

I think when cops and prosecutors and average drivers hear about a driver running over a bicyclist in the road, they probably think but for the grace of God go I. They think of all the times they came upon some "crazy" bicyclist in the middle of the road and saw him just in time. Personally I think if you drive you should prepare for bicyclists and pedestrians even if you don't see many of them. Don't speed. Don't fly around blind curves and down city streets. Don't say, "but it's Sunday morning, there are no cars around, so why can't they turn off the speed cameras now?" But especially if you drive with foggy windows and take your eyes completely off the road, you should know that your actions might kill someone like a pedestrian or bicyclist or other infrequent but legal road user. Think ahead. Or be punished when your actions have consequences.

Oboe

I think the feelings are mutual.

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