Justice For All
Facing up to the consequences of crashes
A van driver in Iowa crosses the center line of the road, running head-on into a group of six motorcyclists. Three are killed, and two more are seriously injured. The driver gets off with a fine of $70—less than an average speeding ticket.
In Oklahoma, a driver runs over a motorcyclist who was slowing to make a right turn. The driver pleads guilty to negligent homicide. She is sentenced to 30 months probation and ordered to perform unspecified "acts of kindness."
A U.S. congressman from South Dakota with a long history of traffic offenses blows through a stop sign at over 70 mph, causing a crash that kills a motorcyclist. A jury takes just a couple of hours to convict the driver of second-degree manslaughter, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. The judge gives him just 100 days.
Outrageous? We think so. And there are literally dozens of cases just like them across the country, in which drivers seriously injure or kill motorcyclists, then get off with little more than a slap on the wrist.
Tragedies like these have prompted the AMA to establish the Justice for All Campaign, which focuses on inadequate sentencing of drivers who seriously injure or kill others on the road. This campaign seeks to enhance penalties, including fines, driver's license suspensions and jail time, for those who commit traffic offenses that injure or kill others, and to have motorcycle-awareness instruction included in each state's driver-education program.
Motorcyclists in Virginia, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Washington already have been successful in getting elements of the Justice for All Campaign written into state law. And dozens of groups have signed on in support of the effort.
If you would like to help promote Justice for All legislation in your state, contact AMA Legislative Affairs Specialist Imre Szauter.