Cyclists’ rights should be important to everyone, not just bicyclists. When people choose to ride, rather than drive, they help reduce traffic congestion and pollution. ChicagoBikes.org, Chicago’s cyclists’ rights program, reasons, “In addition to providing a convenient alternative to driving, cycling reduces traffic congestion, promotes a cleaner environment, creates healthier communities, and improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods.” A major hindrance to the cycling community is that too many drivers fail to see the bigger picture when it comes to helping cyclists ride safely.
Bicycle Safety Advocate Killed While Cycling
One example lies in a story reported by Lehigh Valley’s local newspaper, The Morning Call. The same day Pennsylvania’s cyclist protection law went into effect requiring drivers to allow four feet of space between their cars and cyclists, a rider was struck and miraculously escaped injury on the Fahy Bridge in Bethlehem. This fortunate near miss follows the tragic December death of outspoken cyclist activist, Patrick Ytsma who was struck by a car on the same bridge. Ytsma died four days after the accident from his injuries.
Another serious collision was reported by San Diego local news station, Channel 10. In that accident, cyclist Grant Fisher was struck while riding on his lunch break. An elderly driver crashed into Fisher’s bicycle, pinning him underneath. An active lover of the outdoors, Fisher is now paralyzed from the waist down. He may never walk again, much less spend his lunch breaks cycling. “I went from one life to another. I went from able body, going to work, riding my bicycle, to dealing with a new lifestyle,” Fisher told reporters.
Cities Step Up to Protect Cyclists
Fortunately, cities are beginning to take cyclists rights more seriously. Continue reading
Responding to the alarming rate of road accidents caused by distracted driving, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving. The ban will be felt most strongly by commercial truck, school bus and novice drivers, all of whom have become accustomed to frequently placing phone calls and checking their phones for messages. This total ban means that use of cellular phones will only be allowed during an emergency.
Texting or Calling While Driving is Dangerous
An announcement from the NTSB indicates that the possibility of an accident greatly increases when a driver is distracted by phone calls and text messages. The report cites a recent report from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showing that commercial drivers are 163 times more likely to meet serious risks on the road if they are texting or making calls. Risky behaviors include:
- Failing to see oncoming traffic or vehicles attempting to pass
- Overlooking hazards such as pedestrians, obstructions and slippery or rough portions of the road
- Lacking the time and presence of mind to react to sudden changes on the road
- Missing signs of mechanical trouble that are otherwise clear
Death and Injury on the Road Linked to Texting and Calling
A 2008 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that 5,800 people were killed and 515,000 were injured in highway crashes directly caused by distracted driving. Continue reading
After a near-fatal accident at the Elf Khurafeh Shrine Circus, athlete Josh Headford is recovering. According to a recent article in ESPN, Headford is a 20-year-old freestyle motocross (FMX) performer. During a routine stunt for the Shrine Circus in Saginaw, Michigan, Headford broke his femur, fractured his shoulder blade and injured his wrist and elbow.
Headford was doing a standard warm up ramp-to-ramp jump when his bike struck a wire in midair causing Headford and his bike to plummet 30 feet to the ground. “Everyone was in shock,” and “at first, even our ringmaster wasn’t sure what had happened,” according to Craig Hatch, executive director of the Elf Khurafeh Shrine circuses.
According to Headford’s manager, Scott Murray, the “guy wire” was supposed to have been raised before Headford was ever given the signal to start his jump. As an athlete and performer in the show, Murray insists more preventative measures should have been taken to protect Headford’s safety. Murray stated, “We’re professionals, and this is what we do for a living. But these promoters have to understand that the safety of the athletes has to come first.”
Safety is Paramount
Freestyle Motocross is certainly dangerous. FMX star Jeremy Lusk was killed in a performing accident in Costa Rica in 2009. In 2011, Jim McNeil, another FMX athlete, died while practicing for an exhibition jump in Texas. Continue reading
In October of 2010, Mary Grace Paez was fatally injured at a difficult intersection in Lawrence, Kansas, when a Jeep Grand Cherokee struck her vehicle on the driver’s side. The local news website, LJWorld.com, reported several times on a case that shocked the community.
Sean Walker, 22, whose blood alcohol level tested nearly three times the legal limit, drove the Jeep that struck Mary’s car. The tragic accident cut short the life of a vibrant young woman. Adding to the family’s pain was the insurance that left them with a settlement woefully inadequate to compensate their loss.
A Devastating and Unnecessary Accident
The intersection is challenging because it lies at the foot of a hill, and approaching cross-traffic can be difficult to see. During the day, a traffic light controls the flow of traffic through the intersection, but late at night, the signal flashes red and yellow instead of following the usual alternating signal pattern. Paez, who was 19, was driving down the hill southbound and is believed to have stopped at the flashing red light before pulling into the intersection.
Walker, who had a flashing yellow caution light, was allegedly traveling at about 10 miles over the legal speed limit when he pulled into the intersection and struck the woman’s vehicle. In the incident report, the attending officer cited slurred speech and the odor of alcohol around Walker. Police obtained a warrant to draw blood after Walker refused to voluntarily submit to the test, and his blood-alcohol content was 0.23 percent approximately two hours after the crash. The legal limit in Kansas is 0.08 percent. Continue reading
Over the July 4th weekend, a motorcyclist died from head injuries due to a crash while not wearing a helmet. He was riding as part of a group protesting states with mandatory helmet laws.
According to CNN, during the ride, Philip A. Contos, 55 years old and an experienced rider, hit his brakes, fishtailed the bike and lost control before flying over the handlebars and hitting his head on the ground. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The accident occurred in New York, where state police and an attending medical expert say he could have survived if he was wearing a helmet.
Helmets Reduce Risk 65 Percent
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclist helmet use declined in 2010 after a 5-year upswing. NHTSA also found that while helmets reduce the risk of brain injury by 65 percent, motorcycle accidents cost nearly 12.5 times more, on average, than all vehicular accidents. Continue reading
An ongoing debate surrounds an individual’s choice to wear a motorcycle helmet when taking to the road. Supporters say that the government should not intervene with laws that restrict their freedoms to make decisions about motorcycle safety on their own. However, one individual who had once supported the repeal was involved in a motorcycle accident that caused a traumatic brain injury and he is consequently changing his opinion to oppose the repeal of the mandatory law. Despite the lessons learned, some still insist that helmets should not be mandatory.
The bill would take away the mandatory requirement for individuals 21 years of age and older to wear helmets while operating a motorcycle. The bill would also allow riders who are between the ages of 15 and 21 to be exempt from wearing a helmet if they have successfully passed a safety course and carry the proper documents to prove the course was completed. The law would also require riders to wear specific gear to protect their eyes. Any violation of the law would be a secondary criminal offense. Continue reading
Statistics indicate there are over 4 million registered motorcycles in the US. Countless others remain unregistered. Some riders use motorcycles as a cost effective, inexpensive means of daily transportation. Others enjoy riding as a recreational activity or as a sport. Over the last decade the incidents of fatalities and injuries associated with motorcycle use has exponentially risen.
An increase in the quantity of riders in combination with the number of miles ridden on a motorcycle by riders increases the risk of injury or fatality. Proponents of appropriate motorcycle helmets believe the number and severity of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) incurred by riders during a collision decreases dramatically when individuals wear helmets. Continue reading
Statistics indicate that traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is the foremost cause of death in persons under the age of 45. The majority of these events occur as the result of motor vehicle accidents, with falls and sports related situations following close behind. Studies show that annually, well over one million Americans suffer an injury that results in TBI and 50,000 of those people die.
Continuing Controversy over Bike Helmet Laws
Twenty states, including the District of Columbia require all individuals to wear an approved helmet while operating or riding on a motorcycle. Nineteen states require minors under the age of 18 to wear a helmet whether as the operator or as a passenger of a motorcycle. These laws vary from state to state with regard to mandatory helmets and the operation of low-powered scooters and bicycles. However, states having the most stringent helmet laws also have stipulations for these categories. Continue reading
The State of Virginia is changing legislation to increase the speed limit on some portions of its highways to 70 miles per hour, an increase of 5 to 15 miles per hour over current speed limits. This proposal, due to occur July 1, 2010, has sparked debate about safety issues which may have ramifications for those involved in car accidents in the future.
Some feel that increasing speed limits is an invitation to reckless driving and more accidents. While there have been increased accidents reported in areas where speed limits have been increased, in other areas the speed limit increases seem to have caused the number of accidents to decline.
The explanation for this may be in something called “speed variance.” More accidents seem to occur when a fast driver encounters a slow driver, causing avoidance maneuvering or other unsafe driving behavior. Proponents of the new legislation claim that by raising the speed limit, speed variance will decline and with it, the number of accidents. Continue reading