I tried to stay out of all of the conversation about that now-infamous crash where a car swerved and hit two people on a motorcycle. I followed along as the comments climbed north of 4,000 between the initial post and news of the driver’s arrest. But this thing just keeps nagging at me.
I wanted to take time to consider both my initial reactions and the opinions of many of you, who happen to be bright and rational and intelligent individuals as well. As many of you stated, not all things are black and white.
But this one is, and here is why.
The Rider’s Actions Already Have Consequences
Yes, I know the motorcycle rider broke the law by attempting a pass on a double yellow. But as a society, we’ve already determined a consequence for that. It’s called a moving citation, and it normally comes with some sort of fine and possibly a point or several on a driving record. That’s it.
And the rider, Eric Sanders, got just that. He was cited for passing in a no-pass zone and driving with an invalid license.
Since the news of this went viral, the driver, William Crum, has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He claims the swerve happened because of an insect bite in the vehicle. It’ll be up to a jury to determine whether this was an accident or intentional, but some people have been justifying this as a valid act of road vigilantism, or “teaching someone a lesson.” This is not only wrong, it’s insane.
It’s never a civilian’s responsibility to teach him a lesson. I live in an area where the norm is to do 15 mph over the speed limit on the freeways, and chances are you break traffic laws all of the time too. “He was doing something bad” doesn’t justify any person who isn’t a cop interfering, let alone like interfering like this.
He Wasn’t Doing Anything “Dumb”
Passing on a double yellow line is against the law, but it isn’t dumb.
Those lines are painted with cars in mind because cars cannot accelerate as quickly as motorcycles. In my mind that means it’s not necessarily unsafe to pass. As you can see from the video, he could see there was no one coming and that it was safe.
I’m not condoning breaking laws just because they don’t make sense, and it’s definitely important that as a society we all abide by things that keep the masses safe—but law-breaking and intelligence have no correlation. Just look at big business.
The thing about riding motorcycles is that laws are great and all, but they sometimes take a back seat to safety. I refuse to sit in blindspots or around drivers or riders who are driving erratically or could be under the influence. Yes, I could always pull over and wait for the drivers to move along but, here in California where we can split lanes, I’d likely just catch up to them and it’s easier for me to “break the law” and speed slightly faster than traffic to improve the chances of getting to my destination safely.
Violence Isn’t The Answer
We live in a violent society, but I’ll admit here that my views are far different than mainstream America. I think that violence is never the answer unless required to keep myself or my loved ones safe. Maybe it’s all my time teaching emotionally disturbed teens or maybe I’m just lame, but my pride isn’t worth hurting someone else nor does it teach them a lesson.
And this issue was just that, a matter of pride. It’s the same reason drivers in the Pacific Northwest get mad when you forget you aren’t in California anymore and you split lanes. Because, even though you aren’t slowing them down any, you’re passing them and life is a race and they were in front. This guy thought “Hey, you can’t pass me, I’ll show you!”
Fuck this guy, and fuck you if you think the rider deserved any part of this. If it’s determined that the driver did in fact intentionally swerve to hit the motorcycle, in my mind it’s attempted murder and nothing the rider did is deserving of it.
The Motorcyclist Isn’t A Saint, And Neither Are You
Now, I wasn’t there and there’s really no way for me to know if this was a safety issue, or an impatience one. If it’s merely an issue of impatience, the rider was in the wrong but, as I’ve stated, we already have consequences for that. If you want to harp on him for that, you better not jaywalk, have ever not quite made that yellow light, and better come to a complete and full stop at every single stop sign, every single time.
I’m not saying what the rider did was right. Just that what he did doesn’t make him stupid and it doesn’t have any impact on the whether the driver’s actions were right or wrong.
If I’m on a one lane road in the middle of nowhere with my girlfriend on the back and the guy in front of me is driving far too slow or weird or in some way that makes my spidey sense tingle - I’m doing the exact same thing as this guy.
And I will explain it to the cop when he pulls me over, and gladly pay the ticket he’ll likely still issue if it means doing what I think is best for our safety—because that’s what our society has deemed the crime worth and because it’s the smart thing to do. Because I’m not a saint either.