In two recent Kansas accidents involving bicycles, the glare from the setting sun was apparently a contributing factor:
- In Yoder, KS, a 15-year-old motorist, blinded by the sun, rear-ended a bicycle ridden by 57-year-old Vernon Bontrager. No word on whether the driver was ticketed.
- In Wellington, KS, 52-year-old Clifford Bradley died when his bicycle was struck by a car driven by a 16-year-old male. Police say the driver of the car said he didn’t see Bradley because the sun was in his eyes.
Is “I couldn’t see because the sun was in my eyes” really a legitimate excuse for hitting or killing someone? Yes, it’s possible to be suddenly blinded, but those cases should be extremely rare. If you’re driving around dawn or dusk, you know sun glare can be an issue, and you need to be prepared. If you can’t see, you need to slow down.
In what I think is a brilliant statement, a California Highway Patrol officer said: “It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure they can safely drive without any obstruction. Don’t just drive blind into the sun. If you can’t see, the speed limit is zero.”
Nevertheless, people do continue to drive at speed, even when they can’t clearly see the road ahead of them (see another example). So please, take special care when the sun is low in the sky.
See also: Dawn and dusk risky times on the road from KTKA in Wichita.
In addition to the two above, it seems there have been a lot of other bicycle accidents reported recently — some caused by the cyclists themselves, some by motorists, but an alarming number involving children:
- In Lawrence, KS, a student riding a bicycle ran into the rear end of a parked car and crashed through its rear windshield. It’s not clear whether the cyclist wasn’t paying attention, or if the car stopped suddenly and without signaling.
- In Wichita, KS, a 16-year-old student was struck by Minivan as he rode his bicycle to school. The driver, a classmate at South High School, wasn’t paying attention when she drove through a crosswalk and hit the bicycle. The driver then left the scene and continued to school, where she was arrested and charged with hit and run and fleeing the scene of an accident.
- In Bentonville, AR, a young man was killed after he lost control of his bicycle and went under the back tires of a tanker truck.
- In Sioux City, IA, an intoxicated cyclist was injured when his bicycle crashed into a pickup truck. No citations have been issued.
- In Davenport, IA, a 13-year-old boy riding a bicycle on his way school was struck crossing the roadway at the pedestrian cross walk. The driver of the vehicle ran a red pedestrian crossing signal and hit the student. It then left the scene, and police are searching for the vehicle and driver.
- In Rowley, IA, 51-year-old Penny Vanous was killed (and her husband injured) when she was struck from behind by a car driven by 78-year old Ruby Kimber. Police believe Kimber didn’t see the couple, and weather or road conditions were apparently not a factor. The accident is under investigation, and no charges have been filed yet.
- In Kansas City, MO, a 13-year-old bicyclist was struck by car and injured. The 17-year-old driver of the car that hit the boy was taken into custody for traffic-related issues.
- In Kansas City, MO, a woman on a bicycle was struck by a truck near the Country Club Plaza. Witnesses told police the woman on the bike had the right of way.
- In North Platte, NE, 13-year-old bicyclist was struck by car as he emerged from a sidewalk into an intersection. The cyclist said his brakes failed and he was not able to stop.
- In Omaha, NE, police arrested a man who drove up on a sidewalk, hitting and injuring a 7-year-old girl riding her bike. He was booked on suspicion of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, driving under the influence of alcohol, obstructing a peace officer and leaving the scene of a property destruction accident.
- In Durant, OK, a girl riding her bicycle was struck by a truck. The victim said she had been riding her bicycle with a friend when a man driving a flatbed truck waved for them to cross an intersection. The girl said the driver then sped up as they entered the intersection and struck her bicycle, causing her to fall off. The juveniles then ran into an alley and observed the pickup backing up because the driver was apparently looking for them.
Be careful out there, folks! Assume drivers can’t see you or aren’t paying attention …