Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard attorney Rob Kohen weighs in on the devastating accident in Kalamzoo, Michigan and offers tips to keep cyclists safe on the roads.
Thursday evening, the driver of a pickup truck in Kalamazoo, Michigan struck and killed five cyclists and severely injured four others, most or all of whom were part of an organized church group ride. While the details of the incident in Michigan are still emerging, it appears as though these riders were struck from behind without any warning. Other drivers on the road, at or near the scene, reported erratic driving by the pickup truck prior to the incident. It has also been reported that a suspect driving the pickup truck is in custody.
As a competitive cyclist and triathlete and as someone who has been struck by a car on the road myself, stories like this seem to happen far too often. Sometimes, as it appears to be the case in Michigan, there is not much you can do to prevent a negligent driver from causing catastrophic damage. However, there are many things a cyclist can do to mitigate the risks involved with riding on the road and actions you can take after an incident that will help fairly and justly compensate you for any injuries that may have occurred.
Even though the following may seem like common sense, many riders don’t take the time to think about and implement them. First, make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules of the road. It is important for cyclists to know and obey these rules as if driving a car. Second, make sure you are visible to other cars on the road, whether that’s with bright clothing, lights and/or reflectors. Third, don’t wear headphones. Even though music is great to help you get through a ride, it can be a distraction to you and prevent you from hearing what may be approaching from behind.
Finally, with the emergence of new and more economical technology, I encourage every rider to purchase a camera that attaches to the front and/or back of your bike, like a Garmin Virb or GoPro. While this step may not prevent an accident from occurring, it may help identify a negligent driver in the event they leave the scene or dispute what happened. As a precaution, I keep my camera recording on every ride I go on.
Although not every situation allows for it, the single biggest mistake a cyclist can do after an accident is to not call the police. Too often I receive phone calls from potential clients who didn’t realize how important a police report would be in helping them resolve their case. Don’t be afraid to get the police involved, take pictures at the scene, and take down any and all driver, vehicle, and insurance information you can.
My condolences go out to all the families involved in this tragic accident. If you have any questions about an accident you or someone you know was involved in, please feel free to contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard and find out if we can help.