Distracted Driving (Cell Phones) Kills Cyclists

Channel 5 TV news photo


Have you had a close call as a result of a motorist using his cell phone — texting, talking, etc? I have, more than once.

The latest incident came last week on Monroe Avenue at the San Tomas Aquino recreation path. I stopped, punched the bike light button and waited to cross.

With a green light I started across when to my left comes a car going about 5 mph. A woman driver stopped only feet in front of me. The stop line was about 20 feet back. She was on the phone, of course, peering up at the stop light, a dumbfounded look on her face.

Her window was down. I felt like ripping the phone from her hands and tossing it into the creek. I would never do that, but it would have been justice served.

I did a quick check to find cyclists killed by cell phones. There are plenty. It’s too early to tell what happened in Concord last week when a man and his daughter riding along were mowed down by a 17-year-old driver. He was speeding is all that’s certain.

Recent deaths:

Bend, Ore. 2011

Kirkland, Wash., 2011

Compton, Calif., 2010

Harrisonburg, Va., 2009

Scottsboro, Ala., 2009

But the most egregious of all accidents and one that took the lives of two people I knew, occurred in 1986 when an 18-year-old driving a Chevy Blazer reached down to fetch a cassette tape. She veered into the bike lane and took the lives of four cyclists enjoying a Sunday ride, just like that.

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