Do Unto Others
‘Tis the season of joy, giving, and…selfish driving.
As both a cyclist and an injury attorney, I observe many happenings on the roads from a unique perspective. Suffice it to say that my vantage point is a terrifying one!
Why are so many people driving so poorly, and why is it so pronounced this time of year?
During every single ride on my bike or in my car, which is daily, I see someone doing something dangerous or illegal.
People drive right through stop signs.
They turn left in front of oncoming traffic.
Drivers cut off others so they can cut across multiple lanes of traffic.
Bike lanes are treated as annoyances and often used for parking, and sometimes driving, while cyclists operate within their “safety.”
Many drivers treat bicyclists as road trash to be scattered out of their way.
Why So Dangerous? Why Now?
I can only report what I observe. I cannot claim to have empirical information to support my theories.
However, I sure see lots of people driving who appear to be angry, rushed, frustrated, and ready to snap.
How do I know this?
Because of the abusive language I hear. The hand (and finger) gestures I see directed at me are another clue. In short, it looks like the people on the road are angry that there is so much traffic slowing them down, there appear to be many people who are not paying close attention to their driving, and there are distracted and entitled people driving as if they are the only ones on the road.
Why is this happening and why now? The Covid-19 pandemic changed a lot of things. It affected commuting, work schedules, driving habits, mental health, economic security, and also led to understaffed and demoralized police departments.
In short, there is a perfect storm of factors that makes navigating the roadways feel like dangerous video games of aggressive and dangerous behavior. Unfortunately, this is no game, and there is no “restart” button when things go terribly wrong.
This time of year is particularly stressful, what with the economic stress and time crunch of purchasing gifts, getting to and from holiday events, end of year pressures, tough driving weather, and a host of other things.
Why So Preachy?
Why am I so upset at this increasingly self-involved and dangerous driving? Because I keep coming ever so close to being run over by cars, and because I meet many of the people who aren’t as lucky as I have been. Because car crashes cause people injuries and even death, almost all of it preventable.
Think about this the next time you turn in front of a moving vehicle, and remember that it is your responsibility as the turning vehicle to ensure the right-of-way is clear before beginning your turn, regardless of what the light may say.
Think about this the next time you open your car door without reaching with your opposite hand. The blog I did on the Illinois law patterned on the “Dutch Reach” illustrated how that opposite hand grabbing the door forces the driver to look over his or her shoulder, ensuring that no pedestrians or cyclists (or other vehicles) are coming into the path of the door.
Takeaways: What Should Drivers Do or Not Do?
- Never look at your phone while you’re driving. It’s illegal. It’s also distracting, and distracted driving is a hazard to all of us.
- Remember to always look through any turn to see what is in your path. Never begin a left turn unless the coast is clear of oncoming traffic. That’s the law.
- Don’t inconvenience others just because you want to get somewhere.
- Practice using the Dutch Reach to avoid “dooring” incidents
- Get used to the fact that driving in traffic is frustrating. Don’t make it worse by taking your frustration out on other motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists.
- Traffic control devices (stop signs, lights) are mandatory, not advisory. There is no such rule that says you can glide through a stop sign just because you don’t see any traffic. (This is a warning to anyone in my neighborhood who endangers my dog!)
- Drive like lives depend on it. They do!
Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
As in all cases involving injury, medical malpractice, or other injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front, and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.