I spent the morning in District Court in Leonardtown to see the trial for the person responsible for the fatal bike / car collision on Clarke’s Landing Rd. in St. Mary’s County last month.
After the collision, the driver made a statement to Maryland State Police that she had just left home and had cleared a portion of the left windshield of morning dew but left the fogged up right side to be cleared by the car’s heater. The windshield had not yet cleared and she was busy searching for a cigarette lighter in her purse (the car’s lighter didn’t work) when she ran into the cyclist. “I just didn’t see him”.
The investigating officer claimed that the cyclist was at fault for not riding as close as possible to the right side of the road but the driver contributed to the collision through negligent driving (Maryland Transportation Code Article 21-901.1 (b)).
The judge found her guilty of negligent driving. When the driver asked for a reduction in the amount of the fine because of lack of personal funds, the judge rolled his eyes and said “Your negligence has caused the death of a human being. I’m going to require the maximum fine plus costs”.
Maximum fine $287.50 plus $25.50 court costs for a total of $313.00 due on January 4, 2010. And that was it.
While walking out of court, I approached the investigating officer and mentioned that the law actually states that a cyclist must stay as far to the right as safe and practicable not as far to the right as possible. He replied with a grin “Practicable, possible, it’s all the same thing and that’s the law. If you don’t like it, try to get it changed.”