What started out as a beautiful, crisp, and sunny early-spring day changed quickly when I glanced in my rearview mirror only to see it filled with the fast-approaching grill and headlights of a Dodge pickup. There was what felt like a micro-second between the realization that I was about to be hit and the impact which vaulted me up onto the hood of the truck, thankfully not underneath. After slamming the back of my helmeted head down on the hood, the truck catapulted me toward the shoulder of the road where I somehow managed to land on my feet. Elapse time for the whole operation couldnâ€™t have been more than a second, but seemed both shorter and longer. As I made my way curbside I began the bodily evaluation; legs: working orderâ€“left calfâ€™s a little sore, arms: check, core: bit of soreness in middle backâ€“otherwise fine, head: definitely rang my bell but stayed conscious and only feeling a little fuzzy. At this point I was amazed at all the worse I was feeling after being rear-ended by a truck doing somewhere in the vicinity of 35mph. Now, thatâ€™s what I call luck.
As I write this I’m feeling quite conflicted about the idea of commutingâ€“my confidence has been shaken. I certainly donâ€™t want to give it up, but Iâ€™ve also taken quite a few precautions to minimize risk. Today, for instance, I was wearing my heinously-bright yellow jacket, and riding smack-ass in the middle of the right-most of two lanes. You’d think someone wearing a vivid yellow jacket riding on a moderately traveled straightaway would be visible?
Like many of you, I have always felt that driving should not be considered a right, but rather a privilege that must be earned. A more experience and education intensive licensing program, like those in many European countries, would make the roads exponentially safer for all. I also believe the elderly should be required to pass a physical and eye exam bi-yearly (or similar) in order to retain their license. Yesterdayâ€™s experience has only further solidified these ideas, as the older gentleman who hit me “just took his eyes off the road for a second” and “didnâ€™t see” me despite every other driver on the road’s ability to plainly see what was about to transpire.
So what have I learned from this experience? Wear a damn helmet, and no matter how repulsively geeky a mirror might be, they are a really good idea. While a mirror obviously didnâ€™t prevent my accident, I still knew what was happening behind me. As for helmets, Iâ€™m pretty certain I would be in bad shape right now had I been without. Seeing folks on the road without a helmet, which seems to be done for status or fashion, pains me immensely. Accidents happen and they can be totally out of your control, wearing a helmet may be the difference between walking awayâ€“or not.
Wear a helmet, please, I beg you.