REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE: ACCIDENT AVOIDANCE and HIND SIGHT RETROSPECTIVE
On Sept 9th, on my way to work, I had an, almost, serious, accident. As chapter educator, I thought sharing the experience and my thoughts before and after the incident would touch on many things we have read and written on the subject of accident avoidance.
It was a Saturday afternoon about 2pm on a clear and sunny day. I was riding south on Sheridan road near Loyola University. About a block from the intersection of Sheridan and Devon, I was in the left hand lane, and, at the now red stop light ahead, there was a red pick-up truck. I decided to take the empty right lane and stopped next to the truck. As the light turned green I moved ahead and began my left turn onto Devon. I was at the outside edge of the lane as I turned and when I was about full into the turn, the pick-up truck didn’t turn left, but headed straight ahead. And almost directly into me. My reaction as I saw he was coming at me, was to ver to the right and back into the lane I came from, and stop quickly. The driver of the truck also finally realized what was going on and stopped. He put his hands to the side as if to ask what was I doing, while holding the cell phone in his left hand. He then quickly proceeded down the road. I didn’t say or do anything but to continue down Sheridan road, as I had now past the ability to make the left turn. Before I go back and cover the before and after, I would point out that this pick-up truck from Indiana, on the cell phone, made three more stupid moves on his way to the outer drive, and then was traveling at 65 on a 45mph road. For those that agree with doing nothing, I did that, for those that would have removed his mirrors and put a few dents in the truck or man, sorry.
So, here is what was going thru my head as I first approached the intersection. Let me start by explaining how the intersection is laid out. Sheridan is two lanes as it approaches Devon. These two lanes, however, become two left hand turn lanes, and a third right hand lane joins them. So of the three, the middle one can go straight or turn left, and the left goes left, and the right goes right or straight. The pick-up truck was in the left lane, which should turn left. I moved into the middle lane, which gives me the option to turn or go straight. I did turn on the turn signal, indicating my intentions. Under these conditions, when there are more than one turning lane, I always concern myself with the movements of the cars as they turn, cause they often use more than just their lane to make the turn. I feel that my job is to be visible, especially to adjacent vehicles. So I knew that when the light changed, I would move out a little quicker than the truck and let him know by my actions that I was in the lane next to him and indeed turning. Hopefully this would keep him in his lane on the turn. So what happened, he didn’t notice me and continued straight while talking on the phone and nearly ran right into me. How did I avoid the moment of impact? I was watching him the whole time and as he moved into my lane and near me I could see he wasn’t turning, and I moved back to the right away from him.
HIND SIGHT: Did I do the right things, was there more I could do, should I have better prepared myself for the possibility of what took place? All the usual questions you ask after the fact, and hopefully when you are riding away from an, almost. What did I do right. I considered the possibility that the truck needed to know I was turning and I tried to make myself visible to him. I also was watching to see what he was doing as I began the turn. I knew that this intersection posed a potential hazard. I wouldn’t change anything that I did, except one thing. I would not have crossed into the trucks lane, until I actually saw some evidence that he was actually turning. The issue here would be to time this just right, cause who is to say that the car behind the truck would not have gone straight after the truck made its turn. And finally, the real obvious solution to this problem is, if I recognized that this intersection presented a hazard and the hazard is being in the middle lane, then the best solution would have been to stayed in the far left lane for the turn. This way I would not have had to worry about crossing left in front of another vehicle at all. So, by putting myself in the middle lane I lowered the ability to completely control the situation, and the things I did at the intersection were as good as they could be, I still remained at risk In hind sight, not the best decision making after all. As these articles are suppose to cause discussion, feel free to talk to me about this and offer opinions and ideas and comments.
David and Kathy Bierman