Your Own Private Idaho

Texting and driving wreck hitting pedestrian

The B-52s song “Private Idaho” always conjures up (to me) someone in his or her own headspace, oblivious to the rest of the world. Perhaps like someone cruising along in their car, singing with the radio, eating lunch, answering a text, or just spacing out, seemingly unaware of anything around them.

And let’s face it, Americans have long had a love affair with the freedom of their cars. There are hundreds of songs about cars, driving, hitting the road, freedom, and assorted twists on those themes. Otherwise, what would Bruce Springsteen have written about in his early years anyway?

But cars are potentially very dangerous. They are heavy and large (and getting heavier, as pointed out in my blog about EVs).

So why do we humans still treat driving as if it’s an activity requiring almost no engagement or attention?

This is What Happened to Me

I was riding the other morning as I usually do. Starting off from a red light, I got a green arrow and began clipping into my right pedal. I had my head down and was nearly motionless while clipping in. I began moving forward into my turn only to be surprised—shocked, actually—to see a pickup truck coming straight toward me.

And that wasn’t even the scariest part. The driver was driving forward while his head was looking down. Not just momentarily, but the entire few seconds I saw him. I had a green arrow which I know at that intersection means oncoming traffic has a red light. Not only was he driving without looking, he was driving through an intersection on a red light. With a bicyclist right in his path.

My momentum had just begun moving me forward and left when I saw the truck and the inattentive driver. I had just enough time to unclip from one of my pedals and stop. Considering I had been barely moving, this is a lot harder than it sounds. My momentum nearly took me right into his path.

But Nothing Happened!

Nothing happened. I didn’t even have time to scream, yell, or make an obscene gesture. It was that fast.

But the salient point is that too many of us use our driving time to do all sorts of dissociative things. We read, we eat, we apply makeup. The less out-to-lunch among us get engrossed in phone calls or podcasts. In any event, how many of us are fully engaged the entire time we are driving?

Raise your hands if I’ve hit a nerve. That was the intent.

Cars can maim and kill. We have a responsibility when we drive to pay attention, heed traffic signals and stop signs, be alert for pedestrians and cyclists, and drive defensively.

Most of us are distracted drivers. We have to do better.

Anything else? Nope, that’s it.


  • Distracted driving can be fatal
  • Most of us are less than fully engaged while driving
  • Many of us use driving time to “relax” and do not pay full attention
  • Some people apparently drive through red lights without even looking
  • Drive like people’s lives depend on your safe driving

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 over 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.

Categories: Personal Injury