Will cyclist’s death be first Italian case of vehicular homicide?


THIS is not safe

It could be a first test case for Italy’s new law which makes some vehicle deaths into homicide. Yesterday, a 52-year old Roman woman driving a SUV hit a group of cyclists pedaling along the Via Aurelia outside the city. One of them died and the another two are in intensive care. To make things worse, the woman fled the scene, although hours later she did turn herself in. An older law sets a five-year jail sentence for leaving the scene of a motor accident without helping the victims so she is likely to be in real trouble.

According to press reports, the woman tested negative for alcohol or drug consumption and the modalities of the accident are not clear. She was released on her own cognizance. But there is a good chance, given the death of one of the victims, that she will be tried for vehicular homicide.

The new bill, signed into law on March 9th of this year, sets sentences of from five to 12 years for that anyone driving drunk or under the influence of drugs who causes the death of another person. In the event that the driver was sober, but driving above the speed limit, jail terms would range from four to eight years. In the evento of multiple deaths, the sentence could be tripled in length although not to exceed 18 years.  A driver under the influence who would cause permanent lesions to another person could serve from six months to two years in jail.  The guilty party would also lose his or her drivers’ license for 15 years in the case of vehicular homicide and five years in the event he or she caused permanent damage. If the driver has fled the scene, he or she will not be able to have another drivers’ license for 30 years

The new law, which increases jail terms significantly, is designed to hopefully help reduce the number of vehicle-related deaths and injuries. In recent years, the 180,000 accidents per year have caused roughly 3000 death annually and something like 280,000 injuries. In 2014, 63 of the dead were children under 14 years of age . According to ASAPS, the Association of supporters and friends of the road police, this year alone there have so far been 160 cases of hit-and-run accidents in which 18 people died. In 20 percent of the cases, the drivers were found to be under the influence of drink, with a blood alcohol level of over 1.5 grams per liter (over 0.8 grams in the case of professional drivers)  or of narcotics of psychotropic drugs.

In 2015, 155 cyclists were hurt and 19 were killed in accidents in with cars or motorcycles the drivers of which fled the scene. In 2014, 24 cyclists were killed. It has to be said, however, that sometimes cyclists themselves are not particularly cautious. Aside from the hundreds, maybe thousands, who regularly go through red lights in many Italian cities, sport cyclists on Italian roads are often not very careful. In driving on the Cassia in the Bolsena region, where I go on weekends, I often find cyclists riding not n single file but in double file, many of whom are therefore riding in the middle of a road which is basically made for automotive traffic.

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