August 14, 2006

You Are Not in Control

Filed under: whatever — Brian @ 8:14 pm

On the way home from work today, I saw a high school-aged kid on a bike get hit by a car at a stoplight.

He had the green, but the guy in the SUV making a right turn across his path apparently didn’t look to his right before going.

I missed seeing the actual impact by the tiniest fraction of time – I did see the boy fall to the ground. The car wasn’t going very fast, and the boy got up quickly. Well, slowly, but not painfully. He did not hit his head on the pavement, and I couldn’t see any blood from across the intersection. He was with a companion, who was still on the sidewalk while this all happened.

The driver immediately got out of the car, looking almost as shaken as the kid. Two other nearby drivers also got out. One digging in her purse for her phone. By the time the light changed, and I could go, it was clear there hadn’t been any serious injury, and there were several people out of their cars to help, so I just went home.

I don’t know if the driver was on his phone at the time, but that was my first thought, after having read Jim’s commentary on the stupidity of that particular selfish act just this morning.

Since my friend Dave was killed this spring, I’ve been taken aback by how not-in-control of things we are. I got an e-mail from the CPSC (I’m on the ‘recalls’ mailing list) with details of about a dozen children who were killed in their homes or yards by simple accidents when their otherwise-attentive parents were distracted for the briefest of moments. The point was to scare you into being more attentive. And, I suppose, wrapping your children in bouyant foam rubber and a heart monitor hooked up to a loudspeaker.

It occured to me, after reading that article (which I don’t recommend doing if you have children and are at all prone to worry), that all we can do is decrease the likelihood of an accident.

But no. All we can do is not increase it.

For the rest, there’s nothing to be done but to trust in God. And maybe it’ll all make sense after we’ve each had our own little tragedy, and get to see it all from the other side.

And maybe not. But from here, I sure hope so.



  1. there’s nothing to be done but to trust in God Too true!

    Comment by Rachel — August 15, 2006 @ 3:08 am

  2. As parents, I think our job is not to protect them from every possible tragedy (their lives are in God’s hands, as you point out), but to pick them up and brush them off and care for them to the best of our abilities. That said, it never hurts to be more attentive either. ;-)

    Comment by Gwynne — August 15, 2006 @ 11:25 am

  3. I want to get back to the car/bike accident. I agree it’s scary, but I’m not sure I agree that it was completely the driver’s fault, based on your description. I don’t know about Ohio, but in Texas the law is that cyclists are to ride with the flow of traffic, not against it. The cyclist you describe was apparently riding on the wrong side of the street, and, really, that’s just asking for the kind of trouble you described. He’s fortunate it wasn’t worse.

    By the time a kid gets to be high school age, he/she should know the rules of the road…and abide by them. (Again, I’m assuming the laws in Ohio back me up on this.)

    I’m not letting the driver off the hook, because looking right before making a right on red is mandatory. Even if cyclists shouldn’t be coming from that direction, pedestrians may well be. I saw a car hit a pedestrian in that same scenario a couple of years ago (no serious injuries there, either).

    Again, in Texas, the type of accident you describe would likely result in no citations (or both parties being cited). Of course, that’s not really the issue. People do stupid or careless things, and consequences can be hard to deal with.

    As the guy on Hill Street Blues used to say, “let’s be careful out there, people.”

    Comment by Eric — August 15, 2006 @ 4:12 pm

  4. Yeah, I’m not sure whose fault it would have been, legally-speaking. The cyclist was riding on the sidewalk, and only entered the roadway to cross it. It’s worth noting that he was about three blocks from a high school, on the same side of the road as the school. And that there are four lanes of traffic going in the direction of the guy who hit the kid.

    I’d say both the cyclist and the driver had a lapse of attention at the same time – either of them could have prevented the accident.

    Ohio law does prohibit cycling on the wrong side of the road, but allows for riding on sidewalks, as this guy was doing. But the Ohio Bikes folks recommend strongly against riding on sidewalks for exactly the same reason:

    Although this section [of the Ohio Revised Code] allows riding on sidewalks, don’t do it. Accident studies show that even low-speed sidewalk riding has about double the accident rate as riding on the road. The danger increases with speed. If you ride on the sidewalk, every intersection and even every driveway is a potential collision site. Motorists crossing your path do not look for conflicting traffic on the sidewalk, especially if you are coming from the “wrong way”.

    Comment by Brian — August 15, 2006 @ 6:59 pm

  5. You’re right, Gwynne. I’m slowly letting go of the notion that I can prevent bad things from happening.

    I don’t like it.

    I don’t like the “if you don’t shave, your face gets all itchy” rule either, but that one also seems to be in effect no matter what I’d prefer.

    Comment by Brian — August 15, 2006 @ 7:07 pm

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