Express-News Editorial Board
October 31, 2012
One cyclist was killed and another severely injured in two recent accidents on area roadways. The incidents should be reminders for drivers to obey laws requiring them to share the road and to be vigilant about bicycle riders, motorcycle riders and pedestrians.
In September, a 17-year-old driver struck and killed 55-year-old Devan Coulter Smith on the North Side. Witnesses reported seeing the driver weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds before the accident.
In October, an 82-year-old driver struck 39-year-old triathlete Monica Caban as she rode on the Interstate 10 access road on the Northwest Side. The driver told a witness she didn’t see Caban, who suffered a serious spinal cord injury.
Two separate incidents. Two drivers at opposite ends of the age spectrum. Two similarly disastrous results.
Even veteran drivers become accustomed to only being aware of other four-wheel vehicles on the road. That’s why in so many of these accidents, drivers claim never to have seen the people they hit. That was the defense of Gilbert John Sullaway Jr., who struck and killed cyclists Gregory and Alexandra Bruehler in 2009. In September, a jury found him not guilty of criminally negligent homicide.
Under the Texas Transportation Code, a person operating a bicycle has the same rights and duties as a driver operating a vehicle. Additionally, many municipalities — including San Antonio — have “safe passing” ordinances that require vehicles to stay 3 feet away from “vulnerable” road users, including cyclists.
Cyclists must obey traffic laws. But in any encounter between a bicycle and a two-ton vehicle, the bicycle is going to emerge the loser.
Regardless of criminal sanctions, no driver wants to carry the guilt of maiming or killing someone. Driving responsibly, without distractions, and being aware of other road users lessens the chances of such destructive accidents.