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Way Too Many Car vs. Bike Accidents in Sioux Falls. What’s the Solution?

In July alone, Sioux Falls has seen literally a dozen car vs. bicycle or motorcycle accidents resulting in severe injuries and several deaths. What’s going on and what are the solutions?

The most recent accident involved an 88-year old driving a car that hit a 15-year old girl on a bicycle in front of Lewis at 41st and Marion Wednesday afternoon and not realizing she was under the car and continuing to drive onto 41st, dragging the poor girl until the girl’s friend got the driver to stop. This prompted a number of our listeners to respond on Facebook:

-Bill MacDonald And if someone in your family has reached that “Golden Age” where they are not ae to be aware of their surroundings, do WHATEVER IT TAKES to keep them from driving.
-Scott Zahn There should be mandatory competency tests when renewing your license no matter the age. Folks, whether through genetics or self abuse, get diminished capacity at different ages. My mother in law is 83 and can out drive 90% of the drivers on the road today. My mother should not have driven after she reached 55.
-Matthew Jones And at 88 should NOT be behind the wheel. Hell, after a certain age they should have to take a test every six months to even keep that PRIVILEGE to drive. How many more accidents, near misses or deaths is it going to take before people finally pull their heads from their backsides, and actually learn how to drive?
-Jonna Sherlock That’s why they need a special driver’s test for elderly people

The above accident was the most publicized because of the severity, but it was actually the THIRD such accident Wednesday alone! I had dinner with a Sioux Falls firefighter last night who said he responded to a car vs. motorcycle accident on Louise Avenue early Wednesday morning. The rider luckily escaped with minor injuries. His bike wasn’t as lucky.

Later Wednesday morning there was another report of a car vs. bicycle accident that again, luckily resulted in minor injuries.

Our listeners also touched on the fat that it’s not just elderly drivers that are causing all the accidents:

-David Underberg: Did I miss something… Wasn’t the driver in last week’s fatality only like 26, everyone of us is probably guilty of watching to our left for to long before we get a gap in traffic to turn right
-Kevin Davis: I bet most of you complaining about the elderly driving, text while you drive. Don’t be a hypocrite. In my 29 year career as a firefighter I went on 20 times more accidents for texting while driving than I ever did for the elderly. I never went on an accident for an elderly person texting while driving though! Get off your damn phone and drive, the text can wait! And if you NEED to talk on your phone while driving lay it down and turn on the speaker phone. There is a fantastic app out there for android phones that answers your texts for you when it detects driving called Agent. Get it and save a life!
-Billie Valentien: Please please please slow down! Obey the rules of the road…coming to a stop means your wheels aren’t moving! Too many senseless tragedies!
-Matthew Jones: You’d almost think they give out drivers licenses as a gift if you buy a few dollars worth of whatever. I’ve lived in many cities, and states, and this is FAST becoming one of the absolute worst for this crap. Too bad to, because Sioux Falls is such a beautiful place. It’s a real shame many of it’s inhabitants don’t reflect this fact.

Distracted driving is dangerous driving, but apparently banning cell phones behind the wheel has not made roads safer. University of Colorado researchers studied more than a million accidents that happened over six years on California highways both before and after cellphone use was banned. Researchers found no decrease in the number of accidents after the ban. Study co-author Daniel Kaffine says, “If it’s really that dangerous, and if even just a fraction of people stop using their phones, we would expect to find some decrease in accidents. But we didn’t find any statistical evidence of a reduction.” Still, though, Kaffine says the findings are not conclusive proof that the laws do not work, and that some people may have already switched to hands free devices before the ban began. Thirteen states currently ban handheld cellphone use, and ten others have bans in place in certain areas or just for certain types of drivers.

So is there a solution to the problem? You can put in as many laws as you want but simply becoming a better driver is the only solution. Pay attention to the road! Pay attention to other vehicles. I have a short 10 minute drive to and from work each day. I literally avoid at least two or three accidents a WEEK on 57th Street or 49th Street. We just seem to have a lot of very poor drivers in our city. I wish I could say someone was on their phone, or putting on makeup in the rear view mirror, or having a conversation with their passenger, but I can’t. People have forgotten how to operate a vehicle. And yes, you can include motorcyclists and bicyclists in that statement as well. Too many careless people on the roads.

Sadly, I fear we haven’t seen the end of this deadly run of accidents because we’ve become a selfish society. We’re so focused on us, we’ve lost sight of everything and everyone else. Please try to focus on the world around you and maybe, just maybe, driving, and life in general, will get a little better.

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