Goverll has a point. Same point I've repeatedly made everytime one of these incidents occurs. We can dumb down the driving process to the point that no actions not strictly defined as essential to driving the vehicle, will be permitted. Going down this road will require aggressive VTL enforcement and huge fines as a given. Human nature being what it is, the logical alternative would be redefining license issuance prerequisities, written and skills testing, so that folks can manage ancilliary driving behavior such as tuning a radio or talking on a hands free cell, without becoming distracted from the primary mission at hand. Driving requires complex nano-second judgements and associated hand/eye coordination. As with any behavior, but especially in highly-stressed circumstances, you will perform behind the wheel in accordance with rote behavior training patterns. In the absence thereof, you will panic. Current driver training and license issuance SOP simply doesn't address this dynamic. As such, the carnage will continue. Why? Because, as a society, we have rationalized that 60,000+ deaths a year is an acceptable trade-off for keeping the wheels of our economy rolling. That trade-off, among other things, includes huge license/registration fee revenues and the prerequisite easy-access, non-standards based license issuance for anybody who can manage to stand up straight.
I just got a mailing from the state EPA informing me that my father's drivers license will be suspended if he does not take his van to a testing station by February 1, 2006. My father has been dead since August 30, and the state has been so informed. The van in question has changed hands twice since then and the state has been so informed (it would be mighty hard to sell it without informing them). So much for the efficiency of state law enforcement.
More to the point, about four years ago I tried to get my father's driver's license suspended after he he had an accident (in a shower, not a car) resulting in second and third degree burns over about 20% of his body, and a six week hospital stay followed by months of physical and mental rehabilitation for conditions including severe dementia. After weeks of going around with the DMV and his doctor, I got him and the doctor to agree he would give up his license until he could pass a state drivnig test. The next week he got in the van and went to the DMV and passed the test. For about two years after this, he repeatedly got into fender-benders and parking lot scrapes, mostly because he could not see or sense motion around him well enough to tell where his vehicle was or what hazards were around him, even when those "hazards" were cars parked next to him in a parking lot (of which he sideswiped two that I know of and who knows how many that I don't). At one point during this time, he pulled up in front of my house, hit my car parked at the curb and put two wheels on the parkway while parallel parking, then argued with me about whether or not I was going to let him drive my children and me to dinner. Needless to say, I drove that evening -- and took him to the hospital the next day after he collapsed at his apartment.
It is only by luck and the grace of God that my father did not kill or severely injure someone during this period. His driving skills were obviously deficient. Yet they were somehow good enough to pass a state driving test.
While I tried repeatedly to get his license suspended or revoked during this time, I must admit I wasn't as aggressive as I might have been. On the other hand, the state was not at all cooperative, and the fact that he was able to pass the test suggests to me that the test is a joke. He was obviously incompetent to drive, yet the attempts of my brothers and sisters and me to do something about it were repeatedly thwarted until I basically stole his van to keep him from driving.
So I'm still wondering where was the state EPA when I needed them? And why is it you can get your license suspended for not getting your emissions test, but not for not being able to drive? Major cluster f*ck.
And oh, yeah -- if our columnist friend had to put his bike down to avoid colliding with a quick-stopping SUV, he needs some training or some work on his bike. Not that that excuses inattention on the part of the cell-phone wielding driver, but it's a given if you want to survive on a bike you need to be alert and keep your bike in good repair. You surely can't rely on law enforcement to keep incompetent drivers off the road.
Hey Seru, just read a story in the news yesterday about a 16 year old kid that was busy text-messaging someone, lost control of his SUV and killled a bicycle rider. It happened in Colorado. They said they won't prosecute the kid because he didn't mean it and wasn't paying attention. Like I always tell ya, if you're going to kill someone, kill em with the car. Be sure that you are doing something other than driving, so you can plead ignorance. It seems to work 100% of the time.
"Although I was at the speed limit, her stopping was so completely unexpected that I didn't have time to ride around her, which would have been the usual evasion tactic."
That is what happens when the rider is 'following too close' or 'not paying attention'. Can't ***** at the driver for not beiing attentive when you aren't.
" My choices: Dump the bike or visit her back seat."
You mean this guy is going the use the patented "edward44 lay er down' method of crash avoidance? Since he 'didn't have time' to drive around her, I wonder how he found time to execute the 'dump the bike' crash landing AND miss the stationary vehicle all at the same time.
"I hit the brakes and down I went, ass over teakettle. I never touched her."
So, he wasn't paying attention, hit the brakes too hard and fell down, and then didn't hit her anyway. I wonder how he missed her when he 'didn't have time' to steer around her? Did he somehow steer the bike clear while going ass over teakettle? How did he stop the bike in a shorter distance laying on his ass than on 2 wheels? This guy is better than eddie44 on his best day.
"I landed on top of the bike, fortunately, emerging with a badly bruised elbow (not to mention a rip in my leather jacket) and a pretty nasty welt on my upper thigh. The motorcycle got beaten up pretty good but everything was put right for about $400 -- more than the bike itself is probably worth."
If I was this guy I'd sell the bike ASAP and consider thank God every day that I didn't die from my stupidity. This incident just shows what an unskilled rider does when confronted with a situation that requires trained reflexes. This guy makes us all look bad.
I think it's pretty dumb to blame the cell phone driver at all really.
We can't know why she stoped, though it does seem like it was unessicary, maybe it really wasn't the cell phone.
Even if it was it could have easily been something else, some one stoping in front of you should never be a problem. Whether you know why or not. Especialy when the vehicle stoping is 3000+ lb and your following on a 500 lb vehicle with a MUCH better stoping distance. Yea it might not be the best idea for them to be stoping in the middle of the road, but then sometimes it is.
A dog or cat could have run out in front of them, they could have a mechanical problem, fire, brake problem who knows.
My worry when riding a bike and having some one stop 'cold' in front of me is that I will stop too quickly for the car behind me and get rear ended. So yea, usualy I feel like it's best to go around them, but you have to be carefull they might have stoped for a dog or something that you might end up hitting if you go around them.
Anyway... maybe some people should e-mail him and tell him to learn to stop with out falling over!
This is certainly a valid point, I seldom make calls while driving, I do on occasion answer the phone, ususaly for a real quick phone conversation, at witch point I have either said my peace or let the person know I will call them back because I am trying to drive.. while I am certainly no sterling moss, but I do sport a five+ year good driver discount. the question is: Does using a cell phone make you worse than the idiot next to you who is just a horrible driver?, I don't think it does, being a lousy driver makes you a menace on the road, part of driving responsibly is understanding the limitations of your environment, your equipment, AND YOUR SKILL LEVEL!!!, like can your monster suv make that corner with the steering input from only one hand?, more importantly did you scrub speed as you approached to make this little manuever posible, or were you to distracted? most motorcyclists who are still alive have learned this lesson, why would driving a car be any diferent? Lousy drivers should not be indemnified just because they were not actively distracting themselves. As it is heading, having an accident while on the phone will carry as much legal trouble as being drunk, while that lousy driver continues to have "accidents" that are no fault of their own..
Right after I got my cell phone, I found myself late for an appointment, trying to get by all the slugs in front of me and calling ahead to let them know I would be a tad late. I failed to notice that the four lane had become two, and I was now on my way to a head on collision. The guy I was so annoyed with saw what was happening, and made room for me to get back where I belonged. He wasn't using a cell phone. There is something about talking to someone who you can't see that requires more attention than talking to someone sitting beside you. They will know why you can't speak at the moment, for one thing. They can see the hazard as well as you can. Hands or no hands, people should not be talking on cell phones while operating a vehicle. Period. End of story.
My MSF instructor said you should keep your bike upright cause you will stop shorter than laying her down and sliding James Bond style (Tomorrow Never Dies) on your mufflers...i.e. use your brakes and tire traction to stop ...
Yep, happened in or near Boulder. Dunno about the complete lack of criminal penalties, the local stories seemed to imply that the Law Enforcement folks were trying to figure out the appropriate charge (though it might wind up NOTHING).
Fortunately the bicycle rider's family can still go to court and get a Wrongful Death judgement against the kid's insurance, and family. And the penalties for driving without insurance are more severe.. (unless the driver is an undocumented alien - but let's not go there)
Indeed. While on the phone, the driver is not really all there. This is differnet from adjusting the radion, eating, or other in-****pit tasks. Don't ask me why, but it just is. If I can tell the difference, then everyone should be able to.