According to the Centers for Disease Control, 743 people were killed in 2013 in accidents involving bicycles, a decrease from the high of 772 in 2006, but a significant increase from just two years earlier, when the death toll stood at 682. The injury rate, which has hovered at or above 50,000 for most of the last decade, dropped to approximately 48,000 in 2013, as compared to an all-time high of 68,000 in 1993. Here are the most common causes of bicycle accidents.
Accidents Caused by Motorists
Studies consistently show that the vast majority of bicycle accidents are caused by motor vehicle operators. Here are the most frequent causes, in order of magnitude:
- A driver turns right into the path of a bicycle traveling in the same direction—This can happen for a couple reasons. The driver may forget or neglect to use a turn signal, or may be in a position where the turn signal is not visible to the cyclist. This is why you tend to see so many cyclists cross an intersection in the middle, rather than to the right of any cars that are present. In most jurisdictions, a car turning right must yield to a cyclist going straight through an intersection, just as you would yield to a pedestrian.
- A driver turns left into the path of an oncoming cyclist—The most frequent explanation from the motorist is “I never saw the bike.” Drivers tend to look for vehicles and miss bicycles. Unfortunately, cyclists may have to simply drive defensively. However, the cyclist coming through the intersection has the right of way over a motorist turning left, unless there’s a green left-turn signal.
- A driver rear-ends a cyclist—This is the most common cause of drunk-driving accidents involving bicycles.
- A driver sideswipes or opens a door in front of a bicyclist—Again, this is mostly due to a simple failure to pay attention.
Other Types of Bicycle Accidents
Though less common, bicycle accidents can happen when:
- A cyclist fails to pay attention to traffic signs, signals or rules
- A cyclist fails to use appropriate speed, skill or technique on the road
- A bike has manufacturing or design defects that cause it to crash
The parents of a Texas teen who escaped incarceration through the use of an “affluenza” defense have filed for divorce for a second time. Fred and Tonya Couch, the father and mother of Ethan, obtained a legal divorce before the young man killed four bystanders while recklessly driving a vehicle in 2013. They had, however, remarried in 2011. In court papers filed recently in Tarrant County, Fred Couch has asked to court to dissolve his marriage, alleging mistreatment by his wife. According to the divorce complaint, Tonya allegedly took more than $25,000 out of their joint account and then called the father, telling him he would “never see her or their son again.”
Ethan Couch made national news three years ago when he struck and killed four people while operating a vehicle at approximately 70 mile per hour in a zone marked 45 mph. He was arrested and charged with drunk driving and intoxication manslaughter, and was convicted, but received a suspended sentence and 10 years probation after defense counsel offered testimony from a psychologist that he suffered from “affluenza,” a condition that allegedly led him to believe that money buys privilege and that there should be no negative consequences to bad behavior. The condition is not recognized by the medical or psychological professions as a legitimate illness.
According to sources, Tonya fled with Ethan in early November, after videos surfaced showing Ethan drinking at a party with friends. After Ethan missed a mandatory meeting with his probation officer, a warrant was issued for Tonya and Ethan. They were arrested in Puerto Vallarta in late December, 2016. Tonya was extradited to the United States and held on $1 million bail, but Ethan remains incarcerated in a detention facility in Mexico.
In the aftermath of a divorce, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut. You may, rightfully, feel a tremendous sense of loss or failure. Here are some suggestions to help you turn your divorce into a positive event in your life:
- Take time to get to know yourself again—Often, in an attempt to keep a marriage together, parties will give up many of the things they love for the sake of harmony. Sometimes, you can even lose touch with the activities that feed you. Now’s the time to reacquaint yourself with those things that feed your passion.
- Be open to new things—After a divorce, you don’t have to please anyone except yourself (though you do need to take care of your minor children). If there’s a new way of doing things that works better for you, now’s the time to give it a try.
- Don’t live in the past—You can learn from the past, but you have to live in the present. Continually revisiting what went wrong or who did what to whom only keeps you stuck in the past, where you can’t possibly find any happiness. Let bygones be bygones and move forward.
- Don’t keep it all in—Frequently, the principal cause of a divorce is an unwillingness to be open and honest in your communication. It may be too late to apply that to your marriage, but you can turn over a new leaf, so that future relationships start on more solid ground. If you have minor children, keeping open lines of communication can be critical. Be careful, though, that you don’t use your children as sounding boards for any complaints you have about your ex. That doesn’t benefit anyone.
When you are involved in a divorce and there are minor children, one of your worst fears, as a non-custodial parent, is that your relationship with your children will suffer. Even if your relationship with your ex is strong, or he/she encourages access, you may choose to stay close, so that your kids have regular and meaningful contact. The question, though, can be “just how close?”
Take, for example, the arrangement a couple in Brooklyn worked out. They had a three-unit brownstone and decided to keep the apartment, with one parent living in the garden apartment, the other on the top floor, and a tenant in between. Both parents and children acknowledged that it was initially a difficult arrangement, as the adults struggled to maintain some level of privacy. Ultimately, though, they’ve found that it works very well. The kids love that their stuff is close by, regardless of where they are. The parents appreciate that they don’t have to pack a suitcase and drop kids off somewhere, or worry about when they will be picked up. They also find it convenient when one of the parents has a work emergency or other unanticipated event.
Another approach that has been tried with mixed success is the concept of “bird-nesting,” where the children live in the same home and the parents alternate visits with the children. Many who have tried it find that it presents a lot of the problems associated with dropping off and picking up children—things get forgotten, times get mixed up, etc.
A compromise that has worked for many parents is locating within a few blocks or a couple miles of each other, allowing children to walk between the homes, or making a trip to pick up or drop off less of a burden on everyone.
Family Therapist Develops Workshop to Help Parents after Divorce
Marriage and family therapist Anne Buettner has spent a lot of time working with families of divorce, so she understands the unique challenges that parents and children face. Drawing on her experience, she’s put together a workshop entitled “Parenting from Different Homes,” which offers advice and guidance to minimize the challenges families of divorce face.
According to Buettner, there are a number of fundamental rules that parents of divorce must obey:
- Rule #1—Don’t speak negatively of your ex…period. You never know when your children may be within earshot, and you don’t know who will talk to whom. If the negative comments get back to your children, you’ll put them in a precarious position, where they are trying to make both of you happy, but don’t know how to do it.
- Rule #2—Your child is not a messenger between you and your ex. Anything that you need to say to your ex should be said directly to him or her, preferably when your children are not present. There’s no more painful experience than when your child tries to act as a peacemaker between you and the other parent.
- Rule #3—Be clear that your child was not, in any way, the cause of your divorce. Sooner or later, your child will discover that not everyone has parents who are divorced, and they’ll try to figure out why their life is different. They may ask you what happened or they may simply try to figure it out on their own. Often, unfortunately, they may conclude that it was their fault. It’s best to simply accept your responsibility for the breakup, no matter how large or small. Your kids won’t love you any less for it, and you’ll build a powerful bond based on your willingness to be honest with them.