The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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This collision took place a little while ago, but I saved the news article for today's safety post. He was 42 and she 36. Their 7-year-old daughter was home while they were out riding their tandem bike along a Texas roadway. A car came up from behind and struck them while riding on the shoulder of Texas State Highway 16 in Bexar County. The accident happened at around 10:45 a.m.. The pickup truck drug the bike 200 feet from where they collided.
The police didn’t suspect alcohol played any part. They say the driver lost control of his F-150 pickup truck before veering off the roadway onto the shoulder and then striking this mother and father.
And why were they out riding? Because several years ago they were involved in another accident; a head-on collision where they almost died, were severely injured and needed to keep in excellent physical condition. The workouts helped them physically and mentally I’m sure.
The legal issues, as well as the social issues are speed, lookout, driving with due care and being a distracted driver. What’s with not slowing down as driver’s approach a slower moving vehicle or in this case a bicyclist? I’ve noted a certain level of anger displayed by car and truck drivers toward those sharing the road on a bike. It’s not just foolishly ridiculous, it can be criminal. For a second forget the people on the bike and think of the child waiting at home. Some Iowans recently started a petition asking the legislature to prohibit bicyclists from riding on county roads during the harvest. With America trying to “Go Green” to save fuel and with the economy in the tank it’s difficult to support such a measure. I think what should happen, would include people putting down the digital distractions and paying attention to their driving.
How about the driver recently charged with playing a video game while allegedly driving with his knees.
By the way, these two people were wearing bike helmets and it didn’t save their lives. It’s pretty sad for the daughter.
I’ve been struck by a truck while riding a bike when training for a triathlon. Here is a video example of a small motorbike-car crash. It’s pretty graphic so avoid it if you’re easily bothered by such things. The second video is a bike rider not looking where he’s going and swerving into a car’s front fender. He was lucky he didn’t get run over after the first collision. Folks give the road rage a rest. Your attitude is set the minute you get into the car. So before you put it into gear, sit for a second, relax and leave whatever is bothering you out of the driver's seat. An angry driver does rash and stupid things.
In an article in Here New Brunswick Urban Voice, called “Overcoming the fear of cycling”, Andrea Laltoo discusses being a bicycling commuter and the dangers often linked to habitual biking on the road with motor vehicles. Laltoo brings up the most asked question, "But isn't it dangerous?" which she answers “yes” but not for the obvious reasons most people assume. An obvious fact that bicyclists are not as protected as motor vehicles by seatbelts, airbags, and metal frame coverings, does cause bicycling to have a higher danger factor. Laltoo also considers:
“Cycling can even result in death (then again, so can eating a sandwich, if you choke). But is cycling along with traffic really as dangerous as our imaginations tell us "..." or is the fear of cycling an irrational phobia of stepping outside of our comfort zones?”
Laltoo then mentions another bicyclist advocate, Ken Kifer who has a website devoted to facts and details of bicyclist safety and lifestyles, as well as tips on bike safety in traffic, (see http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/traffic/index.htm). One of Kifer’s ideas is interesting to Laltoo, “most people are aware that flying is statistically safer than driving (when analyzing risk of fatality per passenger and per distance). Why, then, do we drive without giving a second thought to our safety and yet flinch at flying?” This idea of flying as more dangerous than driving may be described as what “Nancy S. Blum, a social worker with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, cites lack of control over the situation as the number one reason her patients fear flying.”
When it comes to car transportation, drivers are given many, many hours of training to be allowed to drive, as well as have direct control over the vehicle. As for biking, one has control over the moving object, but people are not given specific and detailed training on how to operate the bike and navigate the roads on the bike.
The real facts on bicyclist injuries on the road are not necessarily due to traffic, Laltoo cites “John Forester (founder of the Effective Cycling program)” who says, “50 per cent of cycling injuries and deaths were caused by cyclist error, compared with only 8 per cent caused by motorist error”. Though this does not take away the fact bicycling is still a safety risk, it is mostly through the control of the individual biker themselves. Laltoo promotes biking as a main form of transportation as it being safe, if one takes control over their biking skills and knowledge.
With more people wanting to save money and the environment, the bike becomes a good option for transportation. But with less than adequate skills, knowledge, and experience on a two-wheeled contraption, bikers may cause more harm to themselves than they realize if proper steps are not taken.
Keep this in mind the next time you hit the road on your bike. Where your helmet and if necessary a rear view mirror. I've been hit by a truck when training for a triathlon. Believe me it's not a pleasant experience. It was about mid-morning, time for the donut break when the approaching truck suddenly turned left right into my path. The rear duals didn’t look all that appealing, the passenger side of the cab uninviting so off I went trying to skirt along the front. He hit me directly in the center of the grill, sending me head-over-heels attempting a full gainer. I landed squarely on the high side of my butt. Days later it looked like I was carrying around a baseball in my back pocket. I broke no bones, chipped some teeth when I kissed the grill, and was plenty sore for weeks. The funniest part was when the cemetery manager straddled and asked if he could call someone for me. I gave him the law firm telephone number. On the way to the hospital I asked the ambulance attendant if I could use the phone. Calling my office, the secretary Julie told me the insurance company called in less than five minutes after the cemetery manager hung up. Never hit a guy who makes living as a personal injury lawyer. So now I get to honestly say I’m not an ambulance chaser, I’m always there before the ambulance.
On August 30, 2009 a hit-and-run occurred killing bicyclist, Mark Grgurich age 54. Hit by a white truck on Warren County Road G14, according to the Des Moines Register.
The white 1986 Chevrolet pickup was discovered to belong to Paul “Jud” McKinney, through investigating surveillance photographs, according to the Des Moines Register. The 79 year old McKinney will go to court on September 22, 2009 to face the following charges:
If convicted of all charges he could face seven years in prison.
An underlying cause for McKinney hitting the bicyclist is a vision problem called macular degeneration which causes a decline in vision especially in the central visual area, vital for driving. According to the Des Moines Register, “McKinney's sister, Elsie Manning, told The Des Moines Register that her brother has macular degeneration, a condition usually found in older adults that results in a loss of vision, especially central vision.” Though, “a Warren County sheriff's investigator said he was unaware that McKinney had macular degeneration and did not know if it figured in any way in the fatal crash.” McKinney was to renew his license in October, having to renew it every two years due to his eye condition. Scott Falb, a DOT driving specialist said, “in Iowa, drivers may be issued a four-year license until the age of 70, but after that the state ‘wants them to come in every two years to appraise their condition as a driver’." Even though McKinney had macular degeneration, because of his age he still had to go in every two years to be evaluated.
According to the Des Moines Register:
“In Iowa in 2008, 15- to 24-year-old drivers had a rate of 3.28 fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers. That dropped to 2.54 in the middle years and then headed up again as drivers reached their 70s, Falb said. At age 85 the rate reached 3.56 fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers.”
From this current issue debate is rising on whether there should be stricter rules applied to older drivers. A news article from channel 13, WHO, discusses this question in regards to other cases besides McKinney. One such case is Margaret Winter who is in her 80’s and uses a walker to get around, but also feels she should be able to drive her car. She went in to renew her license and the DOT required her to take a test, which she failed at least twice. Winter feels it’s unfair and wrong that she cannot have her license since she has been driving for 55 years. Watch a clip from this issue on Ms. Winter.
What do you think is too old and how this impacts our roads we all use in some way or the other?
On July 24th 2009, a RAGBRAI rider Todd R. Lohman of Moline Ill. collided with a road grader near Germanville, Iowa. The crash happened at 2:30 p.m. and the cyclist suffered life ending injuries. Iowa State Trooper Chass Ossian said the cyclist, “was on the wrong side of the road. The road grader didn’t do anything wrong. It was on the shoulder”. While the grader was said to have been going about 5 to 10 mph it is still unknown how fast the cyclist was going. A witness told the state patrol that Mr. Lohman, “was riding in the oncoming lane, with his head down, passing other bycyclists.” The driver of the road grader Ricky Lee Watson of Richland was said to be on his side of the road with two wheels on the shoulder. Could more have been done to protect Mr. Lohman? With whom does the responsibility fall to protect RAGBRAI riders? Should we be allowing things like road graders on the same path as thousands of bikers?It's not like the daily RAGBRAI route is a secret. There is an undercurrent to the Iowa populous that doesn't seem to want to be very hospitable to this event. It's too bad because it brings in badly needed revenues.
A bicyclist was struck and injured while entering Fleur Drive in Des Moines. The vehicle was turning and struck the 47 year-old male rider while in a cross walk. Vehicles have a duty to stop for people in a marked crosswalk. We’ve blogged about bicycle and pedestrian safety, especially is it relates to Des Monies, Iowa; within the last two years we’ve had several pedestrian-bus, car-pedestrian and a pedestrian-garbarge truck backing accident in the city.
There was no mention of whether cell phones or iPods played any role in distracting either driver or pedestrian. These videos have a good message that applies in Virginia and in Des Moines, Iowa.
Yield, It's Worth the Wait