So I attended the trial of Whitney Decesaris, the driver that killed Trish Cunningham on a narrow road in Anne Arundel County. I mainly wanted to make sure the fine was more then the typical $140 for killing a cyclist in Maryland. So I am happy to report Decesaris was found guilty of negligent driving (the main contested point) and got the maximum fine of $500 plus points. In addition there was failure to exercise caution and failure to control speed, both with $500 fines.
Physical evidence showed that Decesaris hit Trish Cunningham 10 inches in from the right side of the vehicle. Testimony indicated that Decesaris did not brake or swerve prior to contact with the cyclist. Only after hitting the cyclist was there was movement to the left but how much over the double yellow is not exactly known.
The defense made a pretty good argument that this was "just an unavoidable accident" that had me silently going "Grrr" in my seat, more then once." but the thing is, if you filter out the spin and the unnecessary stuff you get the exact same argument on why this was negligent driving, The Judge saw that and called her out on those points.
The Washington Post did a good job summarizing this and other things of the trial.
I really wish there was some sort of professional examination after a fatality to better understand what the driver was thinking that failed to pass a reasonable person standard so we could target and correct that kind of thinking, But in lieu of that, I personally believe there has been too much stress on cyclists riding right, with failure to even mention the drivers duty that even when the cyclist is riding as far right as possible the driver still has to change lanes to pass or wait behind the cyclist till there is a safe opportunity to pass with at least 3'. (Ok fine, I need to add more clarifications to that statement but you get the idea.) Speculation: Was Decesaris thinking "Share the Road" so if the cyclist is on the right I can "share" the rest of the lane... whoopsie (to be fair Decesaris was very distraught at the trial and no doubt feels a lot of remorse.)
The Judge even brought up the new "Bikes May Use the Full Lane" signs that have been going up. Now don't get me wrong, these are great and all but something targeting drivers like "Only one vehicle per lane. Bicycles are vehicles. No sharing the lane with bicyclists." - That's not perfect either but maybe it's time to error on the other side of the equation?
So we had a very good turn out as shown here after the trial:
So I have to ask, was it the turn out that turned a minimum fine to a maximum fine? Could be but I suspect the truth lies more in the next picture:
So first let me introduce the fellow on the left, Wes Adams. He is running for State's Attorney of Anne Arundel County. and the very fact that he showed up for this trial he is getting my vote. The others are cycling advocates of Anne Arundel County. So let me reiterate get politically involved, it pays off! I encourage you to support both:
Wes Adams for State’s Attorney of Anne Arundel County
Bicycle Advocates For Annapolis & Anne Arundel County ("BikeAAA")