During these commutes the most terrifying drivers were those men and women who cruised without hesitation through stops signs and red lights. At certain busy intersections I learned to wait after my light had turned green to be sure all cross traffic was stopped. At the very worst of these intersections I was happy to see the bright flashes of the red-light cameras and can attest that they make a big difference in driver behavior.
You might think the drivers who failed to stop were simply distracted, as by cell phones, but — while I did see many who were so distracted — this group of drivers was no nearly as scary because they were almost all driving at or below the speed limit. Drivers seem to slow down a bit while cell phoning, texting, or reading a book. The scary ones were the ones who were already going fast and who sped up as lights turned red.
This came to mind on reading an account of a state lawmaker in Wisconsin who ran a red light and struck a bicyclist in Madison near the state capitol. A local TV station covered this piece of news. The driver did not flee the scene of his crime; police showed up and cited him. What's most interesting is that the collision was caught on camera.
It turns out that an out-of-service bus was at the intersection — and in fact right next to the cyclist, blocking the cyclist's view to his left — and the driver had his on-board video camera turned on and pointed to the front. Here's what the camera caught:
The lawmaker was cited for running the red light. Police reported that there was no evidence that he was high on drugs or alcohol. So far, the city attorney's office has made no other charges against him, but may yet decide to do so.
The cyclist is a regular commuter. He was taken to a local hospital and has since been released. There have been no comments from him or his family about his injuries or recovery.
Some news reports on this:
- 27 EXCLUSIVE: Red light runner, SUV/bicycle collision
- Continuing Coverage: State lawmaker's driver's license previously suspended
- Video shows Wis. state lawmaker hitting cyclist
Here are some blog posts on this subject:
- Excessive Passive Voice, Linguistic Detachment Observed in Culpeper Road Fatality
- Calling Crashes “Accidents,” Even When they aren’t
- Entitled Driving Journalist Syndrome Surges at WTOP
- “One of the Major Hazards on Our Roadways in Montgomery County”
- Novak writes about crash
- Teenage Cyclist Killed in Montgomery County
- Codi Alexander Correction and Vigil
Here are images of some ghost bikes. Part of a grassroots action to call attention to the deaths that drivers cause by their actions. You can read about the campaign here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (these web pages are the sources of the photos given below).