By now, everyone who rides a bike regularly has heard about the crash in Kalamazoo MI last week that took the lives of five or our cycling brethren and injured four others. In a senseless act of carnage, the driver of a pickup truck plowed into the group as they rode together on a regular club ride. After hitting the cyclists, the driver then attempted to flee. Other reports of the truck’s operator driving erratically had been logged with the authorities shortly before the crash.
While I have yet to read anything about the possible impairment of the driver, that he has been charged with second degree murder leads me to believe that it was some choice that he’d made that led to this tragedy. Presumably, more will come out as the case heads to trial.
So what can be done to prevent this from happening again? Would tougher penalties for DUI/DWI make the roads any safer for vulnerable users? While it sounds promising, such a “solution” could be little more than a bandaid fix. The suspension or revocation of driving privileges generally meted out in such cases only keeps those honorable enough to follow the courts’ orders from getting behind the wheel during their sentence. One only has to look at the number of offenders arrested while still under suspension to realize that this is a non-answer.
Unfortunately, the only way to keep a drunk driver off the road is to remove the road from his daily life: incarceration. But even with this, eventually he’ll be released and unleashed on the public thoroughfares again. Maybe at some point technology can shield us from the DrDr (Drunk Driver as opposed to Designated Driver, DD). There are already devices out there that would require an impromptu breathalyzer test before engaging the ignition, but EVERY car on the road would require that device to be 100% effective; after all, who among us hasn’t loaned a vehicle to a friend?
As I see it, there is no solution that will guarantee our safety from a DrDr. Short of a miraculous revelation to the human race that they have to accept and embrace the welfare of their fellow man, we are subject to the whims of chance in a bottle. Perhaps (hopefully), I`m wrong. No one wishes it were so more than I do.
My thoughts are with the family, friends and fellow cyclists of those killed and injured in Kalamazoo. I wish a speedy recovery and return to two wheels for those still in hospital. For the rest of us: be safe! For now, it’s the best I can hope for.