As a cyclist and attorney, I am shocked by the news being reported out of Maryland. In order that you may fully appreciate what I mean, allow me a moment to paint the scene:
A cyclist is riding up a hill. She is properly positioned at the extreme right edge of the roadway and should be in no appreciable danger. However, the road does not have a large shoulder and thus the circumstances call for any approaching driver to “share the road”. Behind her, a minivan approaches. Although the hill is sufficiently tall and steep to preclude one from seeing whether or not cars are approaching from the opposite direction, the driver of the van chooses to ignore the basic rules of the road and attempts to pass the cyclist, and crosses the center line to do so. Suddenly, a car comes into view approaching from the opposite direction. The driver of the van swerves back to her side of the road and collides with the cyclist, killing her.
While this factual scenario seems to be a rather simple example of criminally negligent homicide, the Grand Jury who reviewed the matter in Anne Arundel County, MD, reportedly determined that there was no probable cause to charge the driver of the minivan with criminally negligent manslaughter in connection with the cyclist’s death. As such, the driver’s only punishment (at least from the State or Maryland) will be the issuance of four traffic citations: 1) failure to exercise caution; 2) driving left of the center line; 3) unsafe passing; and 4) negligent driving and failure to control speed. Each of the citation reportedly carries a maximum fine of $500.
Justice served? I, for one, think not!