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Another Scary Example of Driving with Impunity

Seattle Bike Blogger Tom Fucoloro directed his ire at the Bellevue, Washington police treatment of a particularly horrendous pedal misapplication crash by a new driver that came within inches of hitting a nine-month old baby asleep in a crib.
May 24, 2015, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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A 34-year-old woman trying to park in a carport allegedly mistakes the gas pedal for the brake. The car careens through the carport, over a curb and "into an apartment building where the car stopped just short of crushing a 9-month-old baby asleep in a crib, according to Bellevue police," report Christine Clarridge and Sandi Doughton for The Seattle Times. Fortunately, the baby was uninjured

In  an update to the story, it is revealed that the driver, whose husband indicated he was teaching her to drive, will not be cited. "It was purely accidental," said [Bellevue] police spokesman Seth Tyler. "Our past practice is that we don’t cite the driver in that kind of instance."

"No harm, no foul. Cars will be cars," fumes Tom Fucoloro for Seattle Bike Blog.

No charges of endangering a child. No charges of property damage. Not even a token $42 ticket for “unsafe lane change.”

The $42 ticket was the result of another so-called auto accident Fucoloro wrote about in 2011 - although this one resulted in the death of a 49-year-old man biking on the shoulder of a road in Kirkland, Wash.

Fucoloro describes his exasperation with how police and the legal system treat these types of unintentional crashes:

Our culture of absolving people of all responsibility when — and only when — they are behind the wheel of a car is the stuff of dystopian novels. It’s a world gone mad with motor brain.

There is no other imaginable scenario where a person could endanger a baby’s life like this and get away without any recourse. But if you are behind the wheel of a car, the law lines up to protect you.

The legal system Fucoloro wishes for: 

When you are behind the wheel of a car, you are responsible for what happens with that car. So, accident or not, when you drive through the wall of a child’s bedroom and smash his crib around him, you are responsible for that. Nobody else is. That car did not drive itself. A person drove it.

I’m not saying we should throw this person in jail. But a ticket? A fine? Traffic school? License suspension? Something — anything — to let your community know it’s not OK to crash a car into a baby’s crib?

These types of crashes, classified as "pedal misapplications" by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, occur about 15 times a month, wrote Jerry Hirsch for the Los Angeles Times in 2012. "Drivers aged 16 to 20 and those 76 or older were most likely to be involved in pedal misapplication crashes."

Click to download the 2012 NHTSA report: Pedal Application Errors.

Some levity on such a dire topic. Commenter Gary Yngve wrote, "The baby wasn’t wearing a helmet."

Hat tip: Angie Schmitt/Streetsblog USA.

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