I run a community weekly newspaper, and this letter just came in --
How accidents happen
As I waited at the stop sign on Crawford at the bottom of the hill on Cedar, I watched a small girl on a bicycle heading west on Crawford. She was probably about 5 and was on right edge of the street, as she should have been. A car approached her from the rear, probably going about 25 MPH or maybe 30, but well below the speed limit. As the car drew close to the little girl, the driver honked her horn as an alert, an action our common sense might tell us all to do.
But there were unintended consequences, or rather predictable reactions. When the little girl heard the horn, she responded normally. She looked over her left shoulder because the sound was on her left. As she looked, she instinctively turned her bicycle to the left directly into the path of the car. Her natural reaction could have cost her life.
Fortunately the car was able to brake and swerve to miss the little girl, but it could have been a tragedy. The police report would probably not have found any fault. The horn was sounded. Speed limits were observed. The little girl was on the edge of the street. But it could have been a death of a darling little child. It would have been called an “accident.’
How could the incident be avoided? First, there must be some concern about why a little girl would be allowed to ride her bicycle alone along a busy street. Second, there must be some awareness about a probable reaction to an unanticipated noise, or horn. Third, the driver should have giving the little girl more room. It was possible for her to move into the oncoming lane as she passed the bicycle as there was no traffic heading east at that moment. Yes, both the driver and the rider were doing the proper things, but catastrophe was lurking. Sometimes just doing the ‘right thing’ is not enough.
Be aware out there and think. If the horn had not been sounded, the little girl would have continued on her path as the car passed safely. Fortunately, there was no accident, but it might have been different.
Food for thought! And a good object lesson for my readers.