On 10 August 2011, the Kalamazoo County Road Commission hosted a presentation on Traffic Laws by Sgt. James Campbell, an expert in Traffic Crash Reconstruction with the Michigan State Police. Paul Selden, KBC Director of Road Safety, followed up with Sgt. Campbell. His well thought-out answers to Paul’s questions may be important to some of you someday, so they are provided here as helpful advice. This information is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the counsel of an attorney or any other professional whose service may be required in the situations discussed below.
Q: What should a bicyclist do, if a motorist causes a bicyclist to be injured by their actions, such as in an accident, or through an act we might call “road rage?”
A: If there is an actual crash and someone is injured there needs to be a report per MVC 257.617 (stop and ID and report). If there is no contact but the vehicle causes a crash with injury the same applies and the vehicle is still required to report. This vehicle would be listed as a “non-contact” unit on the report.
Q: What if no actual injury occurs, but a bicyclist believes the motorist engaged in a deliberate act that otherwise could have hurt someone?
A: If the vehicle violates a traffic law but is not seen by a police officer – in your case it most likely would have to be “careless” 257.626b (likely to endanger person or property), the citation would have to be written with a “witness” as the complainant and that person would have to come to court and testify.
Q: In the case of such careless driving (or “road rage”), what would be required in order to make a complaint with some hope of justice? Does it help if more than just one rider saw what happened?
A: A careless ticket is written to a driver (not owner) so there would need to be some ability to identify the suspected driver. The citation would require – time / date / location / vehicle information (plate, color, make and model) and a way to identify the driver. Witnesses always help because in court it will be you vs them.
Q: When should a report be filed?
A: The complaint should be made ASAP so that if the vehicle can be located if possible.