Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meet Lucas Euser: Pro Cyclist & Road Safety Advocate

Lucas Euser (@LucasEuser) has an office with a view most of us would drool over. His office is on the road. For hours every day, he trains in the lovely terrain of Napa Valley, or in Girona, Spain the European Headquarters of Garmin Slipstream, his pro cycling team. Last week Lucas took time out of his evening to talk to me about his passion for Road Safety.

This past May on a training ride in Spain to hone his time trial skills, a car turned in front of him, and Lucas unable to avoid the car, smashed into the rear panel of the SUV. (Read full account of the accident in the VeloNews article.) According to David Moulton (@exframebuilder) this type of accident between car and cyclist is so common it has a name: The Right Hook.

While the driver didn’t seem to be a Distracted Driver, the she wasn’t fully aware either. Wasn’t aware that as she slowed her SUV, she was going to turn into the path of Lucas who was peddling at a fast pace of 52 km/hr. As a driver, her mind wasn’t fully where it needed to be…on the road, and on the people she shared the road with who might cross her path.

Your mind is a super processor, every second you drive, your mind is calculating distance, potential dangers, and objects to avoid. It is critical to be focused behind the wheel, but especially when you come upon a cyclist, motorcycle, runner or other person without 2 tons of steel wrapped around them. They are the most vulnerable passengers on the road and deserve our respect and protection.

Being an uber positive-minded athlete, the inspirational Lucas started training as soon as his knee was wired back into place, before his broken ribs had healed. In addition for an even bigger hunger to succeed in cycling Lucas also pledged to make a difference in road safety and is approaching that with the same passion that drives him to success in his sport. Part of his plans involve joining with teammate David Zabriskie (@DZabriskie) founder of Yield to Life (www.Yieldtolife.org) and (@Yield2Life).

People like Lucas come out of a bad experience stronger, changed, more determined, and touch other lives around them in a positive way. Lucas personifies the kind of teammate people want in all situations. At a time of year where most cyclists are having fun during the offseason Lucas is focused and training hard in Girona so he can help his Garmin teammates excel in 2010. Remember when you see a cyclist, Yield to Life!

COMING SOON: How Lucas Euser is making a difference in road safety.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

National Teen Driver Safety Week - Oct 18th - 24th

It is National Teen Driver Safety Week and from US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's Blog (@RayLaHood) the theme of this year is not teens, but parents!

It is good for parents to focus on the week and talk about the facts with their teens...the stats are not good.

- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens;
- More than one in three deaths for this age group involves a motor vehicle;
- More than 4,200 teens in the United States, aged 15–19, are killed in motor vehicle crashes;
11 teens, ages 16-19, die every day from motor vehicle injuries;
- 400,000 teens were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes; and
- Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash. (All stats are from 2007)

According the Century Council's website, driver error and speed are the leading cause of teen driver crashes. Century Council (@CenturyCouncil) also has the Concentration Game which is a great way to sit down with your teen and initiate a conversation about the dangers of Distracted Driving.

Talk to your teens. Driving is a big deal to them, and a big responsibility. Even if they've been driving for a year or more...talk to them. Take it from someone who knows it is a horrible feeling to get a phone call with the news that your 17 year old has been in a wreck because they were distracted. Stats show talking helps...let the talking begin!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Look Ma....No Hands!!!

There are times in life when it is really cool to not use your hands...like on a roller coaster. It shows bravado and major cool factor. But no hands behind the wheel?? The woman in the video below drives for a considerable amount of time with her hands on her cell phone texting while she's speeding down the road. She doesn't look cool, in fact she's an accident waiting to happen. The more you text and drive, the more likely you are to crash. As mentioned in the video a man who was texting & driving hit a car head on and died.

Tweeted this video out last Friday, and it got a huge number of views. Thought it should be permanently added to the blog for future visitors, or repeat views.

Texting & driving is a dangerous and deadly mix. This video shows why. Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Distracted Drivers Run Red Lights

Distracted Drivers run red lights. The previous blog entry said "Look Left-Right-Left" before crossing into an intersection - the video below demonstrates why. Distracted drivers not only run red lights, but it is often at full speed. When they hit another car (or cyclists, or person) going full speed, the results are disastrous. Texting & driving takes people's eyes off the road, sometimes while approaching a traffic light that is red. They don't see the red light because their eyes are focused on their phone, everything else around them blurs. Their eyes so focused on the cell phone, never see the red light to send a message to their brain to hit the brakes. They go into the intersection full speed. The sad truth is that we have to be extra careful because there are people on the road NOT being careful. The bottom line is being extra careful can save our lives, and the lives of our loved ones. No matter if you travel on 2 wheels, 4 wheels or up to 18 wheels - be extra alert on the roads at all times, even when you have a green light.

NOTE: this video contains a car/pedestrian accident as well as a car/scooter accident some might find too graphic. The first 2 minutes of the video are car/car accidents if you want to bypass.
(Double click the video to go to the YouTube site and see the larger version.)

Also, read about the tragic results one Distracted Driver caused running a red light and hitting Hannah Grant and her family on Stay Alive, Just Drive's website. Hannah Grant Story

Be extra alert on the roads! Look Left-Right-Left as you approach an intersection. Be aware of cyclists and pedestrians too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

At Intersections Look Left-Right-Left

DriverCam dash cams prove most accidents happen at intersections. As you near an intersection take a quick look left, right and then left again before you enter the intersection. Be aware if there is a distracted driver that might cross your path in the intersection. As the video below shows it can save you from getting in a crash and can also save your life.

DriveCam Figures Out What Went Wrong

Reminder: Please focus on the road, and be aware of cyclists, walkers, and runners.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lawless Texas Sends a Loud Message

Texas has light rules regarding cell phone use behind the wheel. It is not legal to text and drive in a school crossing, and there are laws against novice drivers using cell phones behind the wheel. But other than that, seeminlgy it is is legal to use your cell phone behind the wheel.

However, a judge sent a loud message outside the boundaries of Texas when he charged a Jeri Montgomery, a 24 year old woman and sentenced her to 30 days in jail, 10 years probation and ordered her to pay a $10,000 fine for criminally negligent homicide. Additionally, Montgomery was sentenced to cover the cost of the funeral of the person who was killed in the accident. Montgomery also cannot drive until further notice, must write a 1,000 word essay suitable for publication in a school newspaper and 400 hours of public service.

She wasn't even on the phone at the time of the wreck but she was tried as a distracted driver. She had been on a call seconds before she caused a 3 car accident. Just prior to the wreck she hung up the phone, made an illegal lane change trying to get on the highway. The terrible result was a 3 car accident and the fatality of a 25 year old man.

The woman's father stated “There's a precedent that's been set here that is going to affect all of you,” he said. “Where does it stop? My daughter has been punished for a law that doesn't exist.”

So here is the take away from this blog post: Regardless of city and state cell phone laws, if you cause an accident and take a life your fate could rest in the hands of a judge. It seems likely that Mongomery will appeal the judges ruling, but for the foreseeable future her life will be spent with lawyers, and in court rooms reliving the bad decision she made which caused a three car collision and resulted in a fatality. Even if the ruling is reversed Montgomery has to live with the fact that she killed a man for the rest of her life. That would be a terrible emotion to carry.

Each day on Twitter people tweet "It is the last day I can LEGALLY text and drive, so I'm going to tweet all day." Or "My state passed a texting & driving law, but that doesn't include tweeting. LOL!!" Some people consider texting and driving laws a joke. The old "Catch me if you can" mentality kicks in for some. But this court case is no joke. It is going to live on and sets a HUGE precedent for other judges to call on when making a decision in a distracted driving case.

Understand that law or no law, if you reach for your phone while you are driving you are a distracted driver, and the results could be severe. Just ask Jeri Montgomery.
Full article

Monday, October 5, 2009

Curbing Distracted Driving

There were two immediate results from the Distracted Driving Summit last week. President Obama's Executive Order bans nearly 3 million government employees from Texting & Driving.

The other immediate impact was massive media coverage building up to the Summit, during the Summit and after the Summit. Ray LaHood's goal is to have everyone understand how dangerous distracted driving is by this time next year, but thanks to the media a large percentage of Americans have already heard the message.

As Ray LaHood mentions in a follow-up article Curbing Distracted Driving "We won't fix this problem overnight, but we are going to raise awareness and sharpen the consequences." He also states we can't merely legislate our way out of this problem. It is going to be a multi-tiered approach including legislation, working with advocate & industry groups to help change the culture, as well as high-visibility enforcement (similar to drunk driving enforcement). Again and again he calls on all Americans to be responsible and use "common sense and show some consideration for other drivers and their passengers, for pedestrians, and for bicyclists." (Thanks to @MurrayComm for the link to Curbing Distracted Driving.)

Remember Distracted Driving causes 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries. Be alert when on the roads - there is still a large number of distracted drivers on the road. Being alert can avoid a crash and save your life. Hands on the wheel, Eyes on the road.