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Distracted Driving is Bad – What About Distracted Bicycling?

Recently, there has been a great deal of information in the news about distracted driving. A number of news stories have reported on the dangers of driving while texting or talking on cell phones. The Oprah Winfrey Show featured distracted driving in a bid to send the message that texting and cell phone use while driving causes car accidents and other accidents. There are even groups calling for new legislation which would ban mobile device use in cars across the country.

There is no doubt that distracted driving is a major danger on our streets and can also lead to pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents. Distracted drivers don’t just hit inanimate objects and other cars. In some cases, they hit pedestrians and bicyclists. Since bicyclists are not protected by a layer of metal and glass, the way drivers are, they are more likely to sustain serious head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other injuries which may prove permanent or fatal. When distracted drivers collide with bicyclists, the results are often deadly.

While much has been said and written about distracted driving, however, less has been said about distracted bicyclists. While drivers need to avoid distracted driving to keep themselves, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers safe, bicyclists also have a responsibility to keep themselves safe by not getting distracted when riding. Unfortunately, the message about distracted bicyclists is not being made as forcefully.

Many bicyclists feel that they can ride a bicycle while listening to music, talking on a cell phone, or even texting. In fact, some bicyclists may feel that this is safer than distracted driving because bicyclists are not in a car, which can cause a lot of damage in an accident. As well, many bicyclists see bicycling as a form of exercise and like to have music available while exercising.

Unfortunately, distracted bicyclists can be just as dangerous as distracted motorists. Bicyclists need to keep their eyes and ears fully on the road at all times, in order to hear and see clearly everything that is happening around them. Bicyclists need to be ready to respond quickly to changing road conditions and traffic conditions, especially when sharing roads with cars.

Distracted bicyclists who are not paying attention may veer into cars, bicycles, pedestrians, or other bicyclists. They can even cause an accident if a car swerves to avoid them. Bicyclists who are using a mobile device may keep only one hand on the handlebars, which can cause them to have trouble braking if they need to brake suddenly. It’s time to get the message out: distracted bicyclists can cause harm, just as distracted drivers can. Whether you are operating a motorcycle, bicycle, car truck, bus, train, or any form of transportation, you need to avoid distractions. It’s the only way to keep our streets and roads truly safe.