Inattentive Drivers a Cyclist's Worst Enemy
Ride Like You Are Invisible!
Inattention is a big factor in causing accidents. Other risk factors include hurrying, cell phones (talking and driving while dialing), tinted windows, drowsiness, gazing at scenery, obstructions by cars (i.e. shooting the gap while turning), kids, heart conditions, medical and physical conditions (i.e. dementia, Alzheimer’s, visual impairments). All these affect ones ability to drive safely. Moreover, elderly drivers, (i.e. the baby boom generation) are growing larger, and their health is deteriorating putting more aged drivers on the road.
Distractions like reading, eating, putting on makeup, bright sun and reaching for things, makes a person nine times more at risk for causing an accident. Any distraction of three seconds or more increases the risk of an accident.
I also see alcohol use causing poor driving, due to a lack of ability to maintain divided attention (i.e. the ability to do two things at once). Further, medicated drivers are risky. People loose focus when they are not properly medicating.
With the increase in the costs of gas, and a desire to be healthy, more people are riding their bikes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the DMV statistics on aging of driver’s fact sheets show this to be true. People older than 65, are more likely to have perception and motor skill limitations. Fifty nine percent of the people over 75 ran red lights. Sixty seven percent of the people over 85 ran red lights, an increase of 10%. Bad left turns are often due to poor judgment. In other words, turns are made too quick. Further statistics show 80% of people over 65 will have a California drivers license by the year 2025. People over 65 will increase by over 250%. By 2020 there will be six million seniors in California.
When you are riding a bicycle; “role reverse” with the other cars. Think of yourself like a car….can you (the car) see the bicyclist? What can you see as a car driver? Is the car’s “A post” blocking your side vision? Wear bright clothes to contrast you from scenery. Buy a small blinking red light for $10.00, called the Lumix, and mount it on your handlebars. Limit your use of aero bars and slow down near intersections. Waive your hands at nearby motorists, and make eye contact to catch driver’s attention. Anticipate a cars quick turn, while it focuses on objects other than your bike. Again, bicyclists often blend into the surroundings … make an effort to stand out!
Investigating Medical Conditions:
One other safety issue is a doctor’s duty to report poor medical conditions. Failure to do so can result in a doctor’s civil liability.
Last, the DMV has a duty to investigate the lack of mental and/or physical skill to drive. The DMV often conducts a re-examination hearing after receiving notice of a potential at risk driver. I want to emphasize, not all elderly drivers are unsafe. Often a practice session with a driving instructor will help them. This includes a vision, written, and an oral test, followed by a driving test to make sure individuals are properly able to drive.
Ride like you are invisible, and put yourself in other motorists’ place. It will help you avoid a crash. However, should you be involved in an accident, hiring an experienced bicycle trial attorney will help you successfully prove your case.
Ride Safe – Ride Strong!