Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Cycle Incident: Red Van Man.

Red Transit van, cuts left across cycle lane in to a side road. No left turn indication, no checking of mirrors. Unfortunately I was in the cycle lane just as this happened.

The van's left turn was instantly on top of me, making braking a non-option. Fortunately because I was filtering slowly, and the traffic crawling even slower, this speed (10-15mph) allowed me to sharply steer left in to the side road to avoid an otherwise certain collision, with this vehicle type which weighs between 1.6 tonnes to 4.25 tonnes (dependant on load & model).

The fact me & my transport weighs an efficient 0.09 tonnes, means I don't fancy my chances in a collision!

A couple of seconds ahead or behind, and I would have been a) in a nasty side impact, I'm guessing my right leg & knee would have been worse off as the heavy transit van & it's momentum may have ploughed through the side of me. or b) Totally unharmed & not in anyway inconvenienced (just a bit disappointed:) as I view the left turning van occur a few meters ahead of me.

A driver checking mirrors before turning is a pretty basic process. And I recall after I learnt to drive this was a lax area which I needed to improve on as well. After focusing on using mirrors more, I found out of habit, it became an automatic "system" of driving. i.e. a logical process, like a flow chart. e.g.:

  1. To make a right turn >
  2. What's behind? Check Mirror >
  3. Indicate right >
  4. What's in front / oncoming? (Clear gap) >
  5. Can I fit in to the side road without blocking this main road? (No - wait for space) >
  6. What's behind? (A Filtering / Overtaking motorcycle?) Check Mirror >
  7. All Clear, Make the right turn.

Given that driving in the years after lessons & tests becomes mostly habit, if that habit is TO check mirrors all the time, then it is logical that Mr Red Van Man has a habit of NOT checking mirrors most or all of the time.

Which is worrying, because the same situation as above (or worse) will happen again & again unless a conscious decision is made by the individual to improve driving habits.

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Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, expecting drivers to change their way is an exercise in futility ... as time goes on their habits seem to get worse. It seems that more one-handed driving with mobile phones is the norm, rather than the exception, where I am.

Bike Worker

Urban Commuter said...

Over here in the UK, holding a mobile phone while driving is illegal, (but can talk using a headset / bluetooth instead).

It stikes me as odd that (warning, obscure link ahead!) To be able to eat & have good teeth, we must re-visit the dentist every year.

But to be able to drive, we take one practical test, and that's it for the rest of our life!

Surely it is logical to have an informal "check up" every few years to see if our driving skills could be improved & bad habbits erradicated.

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