Texting while driving is a dangerous behavior, not only for the driver but for everyone else on the road as well. Statistics show that in 2016, distracted driving killed more than 40,000 people. In 2015, over 391,000 people were seriously injured because of accidents involving distracted driving. According to NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, over 5,376 pedestrians were killed because of distracted driving in 2015 alone. Distracted driving is equally dangerous for cyclists, especially considering the fact that in 2015 more than 818 cyclists lost their lives in bicycle/motor vehicle crashes. Cyclists are at a greater risk because bicycles cannot match the speed of other vehicles but they have to share the same road.
Interestingly, many studies have found that about 80% of cycling accidents are avoidable. Of course, drivers need to be more attentive while driving, but cyclists can also take steps, like wearing visible vests, using bright lights, and simple waving hands to reduce the likelihood of having an accident. However, it is also true that drivers are often preoccupied and inattentive because of the cell phones, children in the car, eating, and a number of other distractions. It means, sometimes you just cannot avoid having an accident. Here are a few things to do if you end up getting hit by a distracted driver:
- If possible, gather all your strength and move out of the street. You really do not want to get hit twice, do you
- Check yourself for any injury. You may notice bleeding, broken bones, or signs of other serious injuries. Instead of screaming in pain, call for help.
- If you can, you should get the driver's information, including, name, address, and insurance info. Do not forget to verify it with their insurance card and driver's license. If you are injured, ask someone else to collect driver's details. Having a potential witness will also help you later.
- Ask someone to use your cell phone and take some shots of the scenario, drivers involved, number plates, and passers-by. Some key components are parked cars, drains, kerbs, lamp posts, skid marks, and direction of travel. Also, take shots of your mangled bike, clothing, and panniers.
- Talk to a personal injury lawyer if you have sustained serious injury because of someone being inattentive while behind the wheel. Many lawyers charge you only when they can win your case, so it is a good idea to seek legal assistance.
The fact of the matter is that distracted driving is becoming more of a habit, as millions and millions of Americans are doing it. It is therefore important to have regulations with teeth, so thousands of lives could be saved every year. Cyclists need to be careful on the road and even work to raise awareness about the perils of distracted driving. It certainly needs to be a collective effort to shake the political system – only a big campaign like the one by Ralph Nader for seat belts can help yield good results. Be safe and be ready to play your part!
by Peter Fryer
Peter Fryer is a founder of Best of Bikers blog; it’s a blog about Cycling tips, guide, reviews, news, equipments and events.