A driver that hit and killed a 20-year-old bicyclist in Iowa while texting on her phone has been charged with two traffic violations, which will likely result in a fine and a short suspension of her drivers license. Family members believe the penalty is ridiculously low and cautions that it will do little to discourage other motorists from distracted driving in the future.
Because the state of Iowa does not have a negligent homicide statute, the courts require a motorist’s behavior to exceed negligence to convict someone of vehicular homicide resulting in a stiffer penalty. There is a high standard of proof for reckless behavior that causes death, so cases such as these are often charged as misdemeanor traffic violations.
The lack of harsher punishments under Iowa law makes many bicyclists uneasy on Iowa roads and streets. Since 2011, more than 20 bicyclists have died in collisions with cars, with many motorists walking away with a small fine. Even in cases where a driver is texting while driving, which some say is akin to driving the distance of a football field blindfolded, the motorist may not be charged with reckless driving.
Texting while driving has become a leading cause of traffic accidents in Iowa and the attorneys of Stoltze & Stoltze PLC are are committed to helping you pursue justice and compensation for your losses. If you have been injured in an Iowa car or truck accident, contact our offices for help.
Source: The Des Moines Register, “Parents: Woman Who Fatally Struck Daughter on Bike Deserves Stiffer Punishment”, accessed July 3, 2016.