- Richard L. Duquette
Car Crash During RAAM: No Fault or Distracted Driver?
Chances are you have heard all about it: Team Surfing USA was taken out of the running when Jason Winn was tragically hit by the team Strong Heart crew van.
Cyclists getting hit by the vehicles with which they share the road isn’t all that rare–but something just doesn’t smell right about this collision. Team Strong Heart was jockeying with Team Surfing USA (Maui’s Laird Hamilton and other famous surfers) for first place the entire morning of the crash, and the Team Strong Heart van apparently made an unanticipated right turn directly into Jason Winn, taking him (and the team) out of the running.
Race Director Jake Zmrhal’s response to the crash was cagey and even a little suspicious. Take a look for yourself:
"The way the incident is-it was no one's fault," he says. "Two vehicles collided like any other time on the road, so there was an accident and there was nothing more to it than that. There was one racer who was injured and that racer is okay. There was no penalty given, because as far as we could tell no rule was broken, no law was broken, and no one was cited, therefore no one was at fault. This is the United States. There are vehicle and bike accidents everyday, and this was one that unfortunately happened during the race."
As a lawyer with extensive bike accident experience, I see red flags all over this accident. As far as I can tell, the driver has offered no credible explanation for the wreck. I disagree with Zmrhal’s statement that “two vehicles collided like any other time on the road” and”no one was at fault.” What the driver probably isn’t admitting is that he was distracted and should have been paying better attention. So, how far should healthy competition go? When the rules of the road, law and ethics are broken, I say it’s too far.
Unfortunately, I know all about the danger distracted drivers pose to bicyclists, and you should too (i.e. all the cell phone and texting drivers I see while bicycling). Check out my website to find out more about the dangers of inattentive and distracted drivers. The information can save your life by preventing an accident.
Also, thanks to surfermag.com for the heads up on this injustice. You can read an article they wrote about the crash here.
Stay safe out there and ride defensively!