May 15, 2003

Perspicacity - Absent

I read about this for the first time today and immediately tagged <blog>it</blog>. First, a small summary, lest the entire article in its full journalistic glorified simplicity not beckon your attention. Two people were killed when the two defendents were "drag racing" on a public street and struck a Geo Storm at high speed. From another article, I discerned that the deceased driver was attempting to make a left turn across traffic - the drag racers being the traffic. It also states "the men were crusing down a city avenue." Because I must sleep soon, however, I'll pick only a snippet and comment (read: rant) about it. And it won't be the most obvious piece. I feed you this paragon of paragraphs:
    The defendants, who are seeking manslaughter convictions, which carry terms ranging from probation to about 12 years in prison, testified earlier this week that they were totally unaware that illegal street racing posed a deadly risk to others and could not have anticipated the accident.
Okay. Let us begin with the very simple automobile. This machine often zooms along major roadways in speeds, often condoned by the government, of, roughly, 60 - 70 mph. Such pavement is typically called an interstate highway, and cars can only access said highway at certain points; this situation is very controlled. The defendents were purportedly traveling at speeds "reaching" 87 mph on a city road. Danger? You betcha. In my research of defending my "you dolts" stance, I offer this nugget wherein the author states:
    Using data from actual road crashes, scientists at the University of Adelaide estimated the relative risk of a car becoming involved in a casualty crash – a car crash in which people are killed or hospitalised – for cars travelling at or above 60 kilometres/hour. They found that the risk doubled for every 5 kilometres/hour above 60 kilometres/hour. Thus, a car travelling at 65 kilometres/hour was twice as likely to be involved in a casualty crash as one travelling at 60. For a car travelling at 70 kilometres/hour, the risk increased fourfold.
And, remember, these Aussies are talking kilometers. While the defendants may or may not be scholars of physics (I'll posit that they are not), a few other simple facts remain. I'll enumerate. 1) In response to, "could not have anticipated this accident" - oh puhleeez. Has neither of these gentlemen ever been rear-ended on the front end by a Lexus SUV backing into them in a parking lot? Oh, I guess that happens only to me. Accidents happen for many reasons - carelessness of one or another driver, driving conditions, averting other, more serious accidents - a full gamut of reasons, and some of them are rational. Don't begin to feign that you are not worthy of the label of "human" by purporting to be so ignorant of death and destruction that can happen when automobiles collide in an unplanned fashion. Outright dismissal of the danger is only a full-handed slap in the faces of the loved ones left to grieve. Do you know the danger now, I have to ask? 2) A public street? You know, there are some of those in your neighborhoods. Some have multiple lanes, probably speed limits of 30 - 40 mph but everyone drives 50, sometimes 60, and that's not really a big deal because there are intersections and controls and some modicum of control from driver to driver. As you make your left turn across traffic to complete your commute to the dry cleaner (in whose parking lot you'd BEST NOT PARK IN THE FIRE LANE - 'cause I'll getcha), do you expect to be confronted with screaming metal whizzing by? No! And, as a driver, are you not always, at least subconsciously alert for childrendogspedestriansrabbitsbirdsbicyclistsstudentdrivers? Yes, those things occur in nature. As far as the murder/manslaughter continuum, my head and heart collide. My heart wants the stronger charge, but my head calmly states that there's no intent to kill here. Rationally, there's no paper/rocks/scissors with this decision. Head's always got to win the argument, and, I believe the 2nd degree murder charge will not prevail. In my world, though, these two should never drive again. hln

Posted by hln at May 15, 2003 09:58 PM | Blogspot Blog