EDITORIAL: Traffic safety

By NEMS Daily Journal

Two bicycle accidents in Tupelo within the past two weeks involving motorized vehicles striking cyclists and injuring them reinforces the necessity of obeying the rules and laws governing safe driving for all kinds of vehicles.
Cyclists’ injuries in the most recent two accidents in Tupelo were not life threatening, but one was a hit-and-run, a cowardly act. In the other, the driver of the vehicle was not charged.
In the past two years two cyclists have been killed in the Tupelo area, and one of those fatalities involved follow-up criminal charges.
Cycling is increasingly popular as a recreational and fitness activity, and bicycles legally share public roads with motorists.
Too many drivers give little thought to bicyclists, and many are treated as traffic nuisances.
The following are of particular concerns:
- Dangerous turning: When a bicycle is present at an intersection, drivers will often try to impatiently turn in front of the cyclist. For a left-hand turn, this can cut off the cyclist’s path and create a substantial risk of injury. For a right-hand turn, the bicyclist may be knocked over, or collide with the side of the turning vehicle. Give a bicyclists with right-of-way the time to clear the intersection before attempting a turn.
- Dangerous Passing: Sometimes a driver won’t give a bicycle enough space while passing, either forcing the bicyclist off of the road, or potentially striking the cyclist with the side of the car or the side-view mirror.
- Respect bike paths: When there is a bicycle path along a roadway, as is increasingly the case in Tupelo, Oxford and other cities, whether on the shoulder of the road or on the sidewalk, drivers should take note. Where drivers fail to respect a bike path, driveways and intersections become points of particular danger, as a bicyclist with the right-of-way may be cut off or struck by a driver who isn’t watching for their presence.
- Opening car doors: Sometimes after parking a car, motorists open the door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist. These accidents can be particularly dangerous to cyclists when they are often propelled over the car door.
- Underestimating bicycle speed: Drivers are not used to estimating the speed of bicycles, and may underestimate the ability of the bicyclist to catch up with them or pass them.
On the other hand, bicyclists always should obey traffic signals and not push the limits of their vehicles or take unnecessary risks.
Mutual respect and attentive driving can avoid most accidents.