The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently surprised everyone by conducting an investigation into a summer bicycle accident that left five dead and four more seriously injured. The investigation shows that the NTSB has renewed its interest in cyclists after decades of focusing their attention elsewhere.
June Crash Leaves Five Dead
On Thursday, June 9, 2016, a group of nine cyclists left for their weekly 30-mile ride around the Kalamazoo area, in Michigan. The group had been riding together for years, and called themselves The Chain Gang. Five miles into this particular ride, however, as they were pedaling on the four-foot-wide shoulder at about 6:30 in the evening, a pickup truck plowed into them from the rear. All nine riders were hit. Five died from their injuries. The remaining four were seriously injured. The truck driver, 50-year-old Charles Pickett, Jr., tried to flee on foot, but police were able to apprehend him.
The driver of the truck had taken muscle relaxant pills just before getting behind the wheel, and police had received numerous calls of him driving erratically just before the accident. Unfortunately, they were unable to find the truck before he veered off the road and hit the bikers. He was charged with second degree murder for the deaths of the cyclists.
NTSB Renews Focus on Bicycling After Crash
The accident in western Michigan was serious enough, and egregious enough, that the NTSB has decided to renew its focus on keeping cyclists safe on the roads of America, starting by an investigation of this particular crash.
The attention could not come at a better time, with numerous people moving back into cities and exchanging their cars for bikes. The number of people who bike to work has increased 60 percent over the past decade, according to a 2014 survey by the Census Bureau. Unfortunately, with more bikers on the road, and without the proper infrastructure to keep them safe, like bike lanes, accidents, injuries, and fatalities have gone up, as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 900 bikers were killed in 2013, and another 494,000 were taken to emergency rooms that year.
The NTSB’s renewed focus on the issue will likely result in more studies and better statistics about the problem, which can give policymakers a better understanding of how best to tackle the situation and help keep cyclists safer on the roads.
Cobb County Attorney Joel Williams Fights for Cyclists
Attorney Williams Elleby is a staunch supporter of bicyclists in Marietta, Cobb County, and throughout the state of Georgia. Unfortunately, the interests and safety of cyclists are often overlooked by our state, which focuses more on the interests of car and truck drivers. However, that does not mean that no one is fighting for bikers. If you have been injured in a crash and you were on a bike, you have the option of seeking compensation for your injuries from the person who hurt you. Contact Williams Elleby for legal representation.