Lee County, Florida experienced a huge spike in bicycle fatalities in 2014. The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) reported there were 8 deaths and over 160 injuries in cycling accidents. Despite efforts by transportation and law enforcement officials, numbers like this have not been seen since 2005.
Three tragic cases point out all too common factors in cycling accidents: driver inattention, distraction and impairment.
A fifteen year old Cape Coral resident, Austin Dukette, was riding his bike to school when he was struck and killed by a Lee County Deputy Sherriff. Reports indicate the deputy was distracted at the time of the collision. He was cited for Careless Driving, an infraction in Florida.
Scott Johnsen, another resident of Cape Coral, was a very experienced cyclist and cycling blogger. He had ridden extensively and frequently blogged on cycling safety. According to press reports he was doing everything right at the time. He was wearing a safety helmet and using bike lights. Nonetheless, he was killed by a driver who drifted out of their lane and into his. Johnsen’s last blog post described a close call with a tow truck driver who nearly hit him. He described yelling at the driver “3 feet, you need to give me 3 feet”.
In December Werner Gattinger was struck by a car while cycling in Naples and was seriously injured. It is reported he was transported to the hospital for emergency surgery. The driver who hit him has been charged with driving under the influence.
Far too many drivers fail to take seriously their legal responsibility to drive cautiously and attentively. Many are much too casual while driving and don’t consider the vehicle they are operating is capable of causing deadly harm to cyclists and other vulnerable users. Tragedies such as these will continue until drivers become more aware of the critical role they play in preventing them by being attentive and simply watching where they are driving at all times.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident and have questions, we would be happy to help. Simply call us or fill out our contact form on the website. There is never a charge for discussing your case.