|Photo by John Degutis via NJ Herald|
Despite the cyclists riding single file on the right side of the roadway, 25-year-old Robert Whitesell, of Frankford, struck all four of them, one after another in rapid succession. Whitesell, who's license was already suspended, hit the four cyclists and then fled. He was also involved in another crash earlier in the day.
Whitesell was charged with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident and driving while suspended in this crash. However once again an unlicensed/suspended driver hits a pedestrian or a bicyclist and is once again not charged with more serious charges like reckless indifference or assault with a deadly weapon. How much more egregious must a drivers actions be before law enforcement starts charging drivers like the felonious criminals they really are?!?! The laws need to change that make driving an automobile without a license a felony, period! Crash or no crash!
As for a possible New Jersey "three-foot passing law," if it were written like most others across the country, it would have done little here except possibly increase the fines that Whitesell would be facing by a few hundred dollars. Reckless driving is already an appropriate charge for hitting a cyclist riding legally on the roadway (buzzing a cyclist by less than 3-feet should be considered careless or reckless driving, no new laws need be required). What would be truly helpful is a clarification in the New Jersey Vehicle Code about the legality of crossing the double yellow line to pass cyclists and a vulnerable user law that treats a crash with a bicyclist or pedestrian by a careless or reckless driver as a much more serious offense then that of a simple fender-bender.