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[N/A | National] Penalties for colliding with us adequate?

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by Chef, Mar 8, 2012.

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    Chef

    Chef Hool again Premium Member

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    I'm not sure of all of the penalties but it seems to me there's something wrong when a driver can collide with a motorcyclist that results in grievous injury or death through their negligence, yet they only walk away with what amounts to a speeding ticket.

    I can't find the story but I do recall a truck driver receiving a 3 month gaol term for running a red light and squishing a rider into street pizza.



    What exactly is the incentive to deter drivers from the SMIDSY?

    One life is changed or lost forever, the other is.........what exactly?

    Sure, there's bound to be some bleeding heart that will pipe up and say the poor driver has to live with it for the rest of their lives, big deal. The point of the discussion is about sending a message and deterring them from having to live with it in the first place. So let's not go there.
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    smee
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    smee MODERATOR: Devil's Advocate Moderator

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    There was also the story of a lady cop who killed a rider because she performed an illegal u turn over double white lines in heavy fog over a batch of cupcakes, what was her penalty again?
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    Beza
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    Beza Premium Member

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    If you kill someone through negligence it should equal automatic gaol term. Might make people think twice before texting, applying make up, fiddling with the radio etc. being on the road is a privilege not a right, and that privilege comes with a lot of responsibility.

    There are plenty of other ways to get around if you're not willing to take on the responsibility.
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    deadwing

    deadwing Premium Member

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    uhh youll find laws in australia are pretty lax in all aspects...
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    Chef

    Chef Hool again Premium Member

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    ...except speeding
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    mattb

    mattb Camus on wheels Premium Member

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    If you live in Spotswood, yes. But not so for many....

    I agree with your basic point, though. Let's not take for granted that we're operating large (potentially-) killing machines. And let's hope the law doesn't take that for granted either.
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    adprom

    adprom Camry Driver Premium Member

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    Let me play the devil's advocate here and promote what will likely be an unpopular opinion.

    Accidents happen. We know this - human's are not perfect. We also know this. We also know that driver training and education in Australia could be significantly better than we currently have.

    Now anyone who has been particularly wreckless, or clearly negligent and has caused a death - no worries we need to prosecute and apply some punitive measures. i.e. where they have made an active decision to do something, that was knowingly risky and it turned out bad. i.e. Getting in a car and killing someone with a BAC of 0.15.

    However negligence is a lot broader - it essentially can cover people who have had decent driving habits and made a one off mistake. I wouldn't put it past one of us here potentially making an honest mistake that could do that one day. It's a biatch, but that is life. In millions of kilometres, can anyone claim that they haven't made some mistakes or lost concentration? It happens with airline pilots even and occasionally costs a few lives.

    With an honest mistake, and the wrong circumstances it can end up with a death. As can falling off a ladder.

    If someone clearly is remorseful for such an honest mistake, what level do they deserve to be punished? Would their experience and remorse not be better put to use in education and helping prevent it happen again?

    I can't help but think a punitive measure is simply attacking the symptom rather than making a real difference, such as figuring out how or why someone lost concentration in the first place for example - or looked but were fooled by the blind spot in their vision.

    I'd be all for the punitive measure - but I can't claim I am immune to those mistakes myself. I just don't see how the threat of punishment alone will change behaviour - in fact we have tried that a fair bit and it doesn't seem to work with even the 'less excusable' offences if you could call them that.

    No doubt, will get some counter fire here :p
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    smee
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    smee MODERATOR: Devil's Advocate Moderator

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    Spelling aside it makes sense adprom
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    adprom

    adprom Camry Driver Premium Member

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    Enlighten me... I cbf searching through at this time of night to find them :p I probably did something moronic like their/there/they're
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    mattb

    mattb Camus on wheels Premium Member

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    I see two important aspects to punishment.

    One is reformative, and what you say adprom fits with that aspect, where the real issue is pragmatic: what gets the best results; and if something does not get the results then let's, as decent people, not act simply out of revenge or some other base, essentially blood-thirsty, motive. We don't want any more hurt out there, on any side, than need be.

    The other aspect is that of justice for what was done. If you kill somebody out of an act of negligence, then the victim is owed justice. Even if they're dead (a lot of people, especially if they have a purely pragmatic perspective, have trouble understanding this last part. It might do to refer to justice for the family etc to appeal to them. But actually, I think the victim, alive or dead, deserves justice). Also, in some way I think the perpetrator is owed punishment as a way of being themselves owed justice. The notion of a moral balance matters, I think. This does not change even if the perpetrator is genuinely remorseful. In fact perhaps their assent to it (which would be hard for many of us to maintain, for very good reasons) is perhaps a condition of lucid remorse, as opposed to sentimental guilt or regret?
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    adprom

    adprom Camry Driver Premium Member

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    This is where I think we get it wrong in Aus in general. Personally I think the media pays far too much attention to the generally vindictive nature of victims. This might sound harsh (and I refer to the unpopular bit I raised before) but I generally don't want to hear about what the victim thinks the punishment should be. Basing punishments on emotion isn't right in my opinion.

    However, as you say it is a moral balance. So it is not black and white - it just depends where on the spectrum is right. Of course, the impact on the 'victim' must be considered and that is why we have things such as victim impact statements. Although, many reports have shown that punitive judgements aren't all that effective in the whole (largely for psychological reasons).

    You want to mainly provide a deterrent to others for that behaviour, you want to rehabilitate the offender if possible. Lastly you want to consider incapacitating the offender - i.e. taking them off the streets to stop them committing that offence again. Prison is not a good rehabilitator - that much is obvious. Incapacitation - essentially stopping the risk of it happening again by not letting the offender out there. Well that only works if there is still a risk anyway. If the offender is remorseful (as I believe most of us would be for a mistake) I am betting we won't be at risk of immediately going and harming someone else. A bit of compulsory training and time off the roads serves both purposes. A form of community service in talking to young drivers, educating and sharing the experience could be the best punishment. Lastly let me cover deterrence which I will cover below...

    While I am at it with these offences (and getting back on topic), let me cover why I don't think punitive judgements work in road cases. Psychologically, most driver's out there have a "it won't happen to me" attitude. I can be included in that occasionally. The cognitive dissonance is human nature. Thus, if you don't think you will do something negligent, logically you are not at risk of that judgement and that is where it doesn't work. We hear about it, but it will never happen to us so why worry about Joe, the hard working guy who made a mistake that killed someone but is spending the next 12 months in prison. We might empathise with him, but we generally don't sympathise. That is the issue of the deterrent side of things.

    So there in my tired state is my general thoughts on the deterrence, incapacitation and rehab sides of criminal judgements. The victim impact helps put the case into context and judge the seriousness of the effects, but is not (in my opinion) an accurate gauge by which to decide 'how much' to punish someone. Victims and their families often want a form of 'revenge' on emotional grounds in these situations and it stems from the old 'eye for an eye' mentality which I don't subscribe to.

    I've discussed this with my girlfriend a fair bit who is actually a lawyer, so am more than aware that it generally isn't the popular view of the public. Also, I have covered a couple of aspects, but there is more in making a judgement - i.e. the public perception and public opinion in cases is often a consideration as well for which judges base their judgements. I'm also aware that if a driver did something stupid and killed someone I care about, I'd probably want blood too. It doesn't make it the right decision though.

    Edit: Just realised how long this is - apologies for the essay
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    mattb

    mattb Camus on wheels Premium Member

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    adprom, I agree with everything you've said, thanks for an interesting - and obviously well thought-about - response. I'm wanting to add something more when I speak about justice, than issues of what is effective, however (so different to deterrence, rehabilitation or incapacitation). It too, would not be a popular or everywhere-understood idea - if on the one hand, to speak simplistically, we have a kind of tribal desire for an eye-for-an-eye, on the other we have an 'enlightened' reduction of things to utilitarianism, pragmatism. I think both are very lacking. I say, even though I wouldn't like this applied to myself or my loved ones (but that doesn't make it wrong), that if you do something weighty, then the consequences need to be weighty. And by "doing something" I refer to more than one's intent (which is only a part of what we do when we 'do' something, but I guess the law knows that very well - eg "foreseeable consequences"). I might think more about this tomorrow when I'm more alert, but it's about the punishment expressing, giving voice to, the significance of what was done/happened. Regardless of other utilitarian concerns for deterrence, rehabilitation or incapacitation. For this reason, there would be many cases where I would be ready to perceive (upon attention to the particulars) the victim's, or victim's family's, response as not purely emotional or basely emotional as the case may be, but as (perhaps, or sometimes, at the same time) expressing a moral perspective and reacting (morality involves the emotions as a deep level) to (their perception of) a moral lack in the law's judgement regarding an appropriate punishment - that there is a lack of moral balance. I'm not a judge and I suspect most cases are far more complex than the general public gives them credit for. But what I'm talking about - morality (in a deep sense of the word) - is something the law needs to instantiate but which transcends the law, and which is sui generis and distinct from pragmatic concerns.
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    adprom

    adprom Camry Driver Premium Member

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    Just want to highlight this bit to flesh out and make a distinction. The if you do something weighty bit, is different to the if there is a a weighty consequence.

    Sometimes we can do something quite wrong, with virtually no ill consequence through pure luck. On the other hand, we can sometimes make the smallest, easiest to make of mistakes and it costs someone a life - i.e. great consequence because the timing was terrible.

    This is why my personal opinion doesn't give much weight, to steal the word, to what the victims think should happen. Obviously the magnitude of the judgement needs to bear some resemblance to the magnitude of the offence, and the magnitude of the consequence to that offence. That is one of the big balancing acts though of law. Every judge/magistrate will be a bit different on that I think.
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    mattb

    mattb Camus on wheels Premium Member

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    Good point there. This is not a straightforward issue because we're talking about good and earnest people and we're talking about an activity that society puts on us, as it were, to engage in and to do so in the midst many distractions and/or stresses, tiredness etc. I say this in the context of having said before that we need also to stand back and not take for granted what we're doing, even if (I said the law, but let's broaden it) society encourages a laxness about it (society encourages many laxities where the individual is still responsible when they give in to them). After all, real and innocent people get killed by others actions here. And we're talking (without further definition, which we need and again is contentiously complex) of negligence, which involves degrees, for one thing.

    At the same time, we might merely demote a military general, ship's captain, etc etc for their dereliction or negligence which fortunately led to no negative consequences. And for the same acts, when they lead to negative consequences - the death of others - we punish them in a very different way. How things turned out matters, to my mind, in a big way regarding how we conceive of what they did and what punishment is appropriate. I'm not offering something that would make for a clean cut perfectly 'rational' system here; such a picture includes an element of luck, misfortune and tragedy in law and punishment. But that simply reflects the reality of what happens out there: like it or not, you killed somebody. You are their killer. You never intended to be, you would take it back perhaps with your own life if you could, but the fact remains you (negligently!) did something that killed another. That has to be answered for. And it's tragic that it should happen to the finest person that they become the killer of another.
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    adprom

    adprom Camry Driver Premium Member

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    The fact the ship captain was oggling the arse of the chick he was trying to impress for a root on a flyby might also have something to do with the contempt for him :p

    Negligence implies a lack of - so you are essentially charging someone with inaction in some part which makes it complex to begin with. Education, or lack of, is still a huge issue! Maybe the state government/MUARC should be sued for their negligence in addressing real safety issues and the role the misinformation has to play in accidents and people feeling safe for the wrong reasons. That is a form of negligence - even if you can't practically prosecute on it.
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    Brmmm
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    Brmmm noderator Premium Member

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    Since you asked:

    human's
    wreckless

    Definitely much better than average, though.

    PS pleese don't see this as a invitashon to correkt any of mine
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    Chef

    Chef Hool again Premium Member

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    I've scratched a new bald spot on my head trying to figure what you guys are saying.

    You've clearly spent a lot of time thinking about penalties, their application, and their effectiveness. I'll have to come back to it and see if i can condense it down into something i can fathom.
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    MT1
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    i know the answer but am reluctant to give it. because it's in no way a deterent.

    more of a concern to me, is that people are allowed to keep driving after killing someone or injuring another road user with a car.
    surely they should be removed from the roads until it can be deemed they are either fit or unfit to drive a car.
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    aaahhh

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    Maybe certain actions such as texting whilst driving (which is negligent) should have a higher penalty to begin with. Imagine if there was a mandatory 3 months loss of licence if caught texting. Drivers would get the message that SMIDSY is something to be taken seriously. So if through an act of negligence the expectation is you will receive a harsh penalty with mandatory minimum sentences you might think twice. Might seem harsh but if the law makers are serious and are willing to walk the walk not just talk change might happen over time.
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    Jem
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    Jem Premium Member

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    aaahhh,

    I tend to agree, perhaps one way to tackle SMIDSY is to concentrate on the known distractions that can lead to drivers not paying enough attention.

    We all know that talking while holding your phone and texting while driving are illegal and very distracting for drivers. It is also obvious that the penalty system for this is not effective as they are all still doing it.

    I for one would like to see a car on/phone off rule put in place, at a previous employer of mine that was the rule and it could lead to loss of your job if you where caught. I assure you it made us all turn our phones off as soon as we got in the car.

    While I am at it, hands free is a joke as well, you cannot tell me that having a conversation does not distract you and lead to a quick check rather than a proper look before you change lanes.

    Of course the problem is it is not politically popular to make penalties that would make a real difference to this sort of behaviour. I can just imagine the outcry if the law was changed to if you are using your phone your licence is canceled for 3 months.

    Then of course you will still have to deal with the "It won't happen to me" part as mentioned above.

    Anyway just my thoughts - so far....

    Cheers Jeremy
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