Monday, September 13, 2010

On Being Hit by a Car

I'm petrified of being hit by a car. I take all the recommended precautions. I always indicate when I am turning. I wear bright colors and flashing lights. I avoid roads with no shoulders.

But the truth is, you can take all the precautions you want. You can worry about it while you ride, before you ride, or even after you ride, but all it takes is one stupid distracted driver.

Last week, after a series of extreme, rare and difficult life moments (which is why this is so even more random to me) I was hit by a distracted driver. Thank God, she barely skimmed me. I was hardly hurt- but I was very,very, shaken up.

The weather was perfect- there was no sun in any one's eyes. I had been riding on a super quiet back country road where cars come once every few minutes. I was pausing for a moment on an open stretch of road- no hills to be hidden by, no corner's to tuck around. I had stopped to take a break, because let's face it- I need breathing breaks when I ride.

The car scraped around my arm and swerved across the road. The driver slammed on there breaks maybe twenty feet past me- obviously too late if she had been any closer to me. She comes out shaken up- saying she's so sorry, she didn't see me (sitting on the side of a quiet open road with a bright yellow jacket on- right). She had been distracted by her four kids she tells me.

She swears to me she will never drive distracted again. We're both crying now because she was an inch from killing me.


What's the lesson here? I dunno- that we should all know better- right? I mean- when we drive we should drive- not text, or watch tv, or surf the internet or god knows what the heck people do other than drive when driving.

It occurs to me that some of you all must have had collisions or near collisions with cars. Anyone feel like sharing? Any tips for avoiding future catastrophes? PS thanks for listening to my story all.


Red Bike said...

Oh no. At least both yourself and the bike are alright.

Amy C said...

I'm so glad you're okay! What a close call. :-/

I've been almost hit while running, I've almost hit a cyclist while driving {shudder}, and my dad has been hit by a car while biking.

I know for me, especially after almost hitting the cyclist, I try to be extremely conscious and hyper-vigilant while driving (and while running and biking myself). Does it always work? I'm not sure. How many "close calls" are we not aware of?

Scary indeed. Distractions come in all colors, moods, and situations. Yoga has actually taught me a lot about mindfulness and the importance of being present in each moment. And so I practice this each day in hopes that I can train my brain to be more aware and conscious for those moments that count.

Thank you for this reminder that it only takes a second for a beautiful day to become a nightmare. Great post!


Betty Mountain Girl said...

Thanks for the kind words RB and Amy!

Amy- I think you are totally dead on. I've totally tried to be more mindful now in general because of the whole incident. Hopefully my near catastrophe caused another driver to become more mindful too (i.e., the distracted lady who hit me) :==)

trio said...

So glad you are okay, I hate reading posts like this.

But hopefully it will make another driver pay more attention.

starfish264 said...

Phew - thank god it ended about as well as a close encounter like that could. Although how the hell did she not see you, even out the corner of her eye????

All we can do is cycle defensively, I guess, which it sounds like you do.

Stay safe.

Richard said...

I'm glad you are okay. I can't imagine how frightened you must have been.

I'm personally horrified at the thought of getting hit or hitting someone. I take all the necessary precautions as well, but one never knows what might happen. I don't ride my road bike nearly as much as I used to do. I feel much safer on the trails and prefer the mountain bike anyway.

Be safe out there, Betty.

Betty Mountain Girl said...

Thanks for the comments guys :)

starfish- I know right?! What the heck was she doing reading?!

Richard- truthfully I've only been mountain biking since this incident. I think it might take me a little while to feel semi-sort- just a little bit safe to ride on the road again.

Tiff :o) said...

I've had a couple of close calls but I've only been hit once. I was biking down the road. I always hated this section of road leading to the interstate but it was pretty impossible to go any other way. I was biking across an intersection at a green light. A woman pulled out to make the turn across the intersection but never saw me. I saw her though and I hurried as fast as my legs would take me but I knew I wasn't going to get out of her way in time so I did a bunny hop pulling my bike and me up into the air. Instead of getting run over, I landed on her hood. I remember thinking, "Isn't she going to stop?" I craned my neck back to see her still looking over her shoulder making sure she was going to make it ahead of the cars coming up behind her. She hadn't even heard me and my bike hit her hood. When she did look in front and saw a person on her hood, she slammed on the brakes and me and my bike were thrown off onto the ground. She was so apologetic and was concerned about me while I was only concerned about my bike. Nothing on me was hurt and my bike seemed all right so I rode home, completely shaky. It was a few months before I stopped getting anxiety attacks when riding that stretch of road. That was one of the scariest moments of my life, watching her drive up to me, feeling so helpless. I have since decided that I won't ride without a mirror. It wouldn't have saved me from that driver since she came from the side but it sure helps to know what's going on behind you. I have yellow fenders for visibility and a flourescent yellow, reflective vest I wear on every ride. And of course, I refuse to ride without a helmet on. Now, if only I could get away from the guys who actually joy in their attempts to scare you off the road.