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I got hit by a car... head on!

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

I got hit by a car... head on!

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Old 04-26-03, 07:40 PM
  #1  
Maurizio
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I got hit by a car... head on!

After a reasonably long day of riding, including sections of highly trafficked roads, it was on a very quiet back road less than two miles from my home that I was hit.

I was going real slow as to cool down from the ride and also because I had just gone up a hill -- maybe 15mph. It's a fairly dense residential area with a lot of people walking, and other people of all ages also riding their bikes around. I saw a car coming at me also going slow. The car was in it's appropriate lane, and I was on the far right side of the road. And then it started to drift into my lane. I couldn't understand what was going on -- what the driver was doing made no sense. The car was also going pretty slow maybe 20mph and I thought that it might be stopping... no. It was heading right at me. At about 25 feet away from me, I panicked and tried to hug the curb as close as I could, or maybe even get up on it, and I also grabbed the breaks, and pushed the bike forward to try and slow as quickly as I could. But the car was completely in my lane, with no room to get by it near the curb, and it wasn't slowing down. "HOW COULD IT NOT SEE ME!!!" I thought. And so it smacked me head on at perhaps a combined velocity of 20-30mph (me: 5-10mph car: 15-20 mph) and right over the hood in front of the driver, onto the sidewalk, my bike falling behind me. I landed on my right hip and wrist.

Then... the driver stopped. She got out of the car. She was very elderly, and very very very short -- maybe 75-85 yrs. and about 4' 10" (seriously, she was that short). She was all appogetic, and I was just kind of stunned. I didn't say much to her. Turns out she lived on this road about 200 feet behind the place of the crash, so she went to write down her name and number and so on. I stored a mental immage of her home, so I knew where to find her if I needed to. A witness who was walking by was appauled by the accident and rushed to see if I was ok. With all the adrenaline, there wasn't much pain to begin with. I tried to call my parrents at home to pick me and my bike up, but they weren't home. The walker who witnessed the event, insisted to walk back to her house and pick me up with her minivan and bring me home. I thanked her a lot. At least the senile old ***** acknowledged that this incident was all her fault.

So here's the dammage.

Bike:

-Badly ripped up fizik aliante saddle.
-Tacoed rear wheel - Bontrager Race X Lite
-Bent left crank arm - FSA Carbon Team Issue
-Broken Keywin pedals
-Dent in chainstay of my nine (9!!!!!!!!!) day old custom scandium Pegoretti frame.
-Scratches on shifters and derailers.

Me:

-Broken hand. Necessitating a temporary splint that goes up nearly to my elbow. It makes typing VERY slow.
-Swolen and road rashed hip.
-Depressed.
-No racing for at least one maybe two weeks!!!

I've filed a police report on this woman which will also go to the DMV, and I'm having her insurance foot a generous bill for any and all dammage on my bike -- be it structural or cosmetic. She can be glad that I'm not going to sue her on top of that.

WTF are drivers like that doing out there!?!? The scariest thing, was that ther wasn't a thing I could do to avoid the crash. She came at me like a cruise missile.

- Maurizio
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Old 04-26-03, 07:49 PM
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That's some nasty damage both to you and your bike. Get better! There should be some kind of an elderly road test or something to make sure stuff like that doesn’t happen. Good thing she was nice to you. (like it matters after a broken arm and a wrecked bike)

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Old 04-26-03, 08:07 PM
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You are lucky to be alive. Wow. Seems to me there have been an awful lot of bike accidents reported here on the net lately. What's happening?

Do you think a very loud air horn (the type sold for bicycles) would have helped? I have often thought of getting one of those.

Hope you heal fast.
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Old 04-26-03, 08:35 PM
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I bet it seems all too surreal.

Sorry to hear about your accident. Luckily she did not accelerate more quickly. Given her age and her driving habits, perhaps her insurance company will not continue to insure her.

Becoming elderly and losing one's abilities is a sad and difficult thing, but if the driver is clearly no longer safe behind the wheel, a needed change is obvious.
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Old 04-26-03, 08:42 PM
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Man that sucks. Glad you're still with us though! could have been worse.

I suggest that you write how you feel down, keep a journal basically. Make note of everything that hurts, things that you couldn't do but wanted to because of your injuries. I got hit on the 3rd and I didn't even think about keeping a journal until now, and I feel pretty much 100% now other than some new skin that's really itchy that i know is going to scar.

Hang in there though, you'll be as good as new before you know it. again, glad you got away with as few injuries as you did
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Old 04-26-03, 08:46 PM
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Write down a statement like what you wrote here and keep it for the insurance companies. Also, did you get the contact info for the witnesses? If not, I think you're still ok.

Also, what exactly did she say? An admission of fault is an exception to the heresay rule (read: you can testify as to what she said).

Make sure you know the entire extent of the damage before you submit your bills (you'll probably only get one shot at it).

Glad you're ok.

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Old 04-26-03, 09:28 PM
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Glad it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but that was pretty scary, probably our worst nightmare!

Hope everything heals up OK, and you don't have any problems collecting for the damage to your bike. Good thing you had a witness, and I'm glad that person was as nice to you as they were. Renews your faith in human kindness.
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Old 04-26-03, 09:31 PM
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Are you sure the carnk arm is bent and not the BB, I would think that a CF crank arm would break before it bent. Be sure to have you're LBS write up a estimate to fix you're bike up. THen you can submit that to the insurance company.
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Old 04-26-03, 10:21 PM
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Take care of yourself. That woman is probably unable to continue driving. You might point that out to the insurance adjuster.
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Old 04-26-03, 10:25 PM
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Wow - thank god you survived. Ouch!
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Old 04-26-03, 11:12 PM
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Originally posted by Chuvak
That's some nasty damage both to you and your bike. Get better! There should be some kind of an elderly road test or something to make sure stuff like that doesn’t happen.
There should be regular road testing for all drivers, not just the elderly. Age is not the only issue.

Back to the topic, I'm glad that you survived, as others have said, it could have been much, much worse. I hope you took note of the fact that she acknowledged it was her fault, maybe it could be useful in dealing with her insurance company.
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Old 04-26-03, 11:28 PM
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I know New Hamphire has semi-regular driver's tests for the elderly. Two years ago my grandmother and I had our tests on the same day (we both passed).

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Old 04-27-03, 01:50 AM
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It's really scary, but be glad you are alive. I can't imagine someone actually driving into the wrong lane and hitting me. I don't think anyone can possibly avoid it, it's like you're all cornered and boxed in.

Maybe the elderly should be banned from driving, they are way too unsafe to be driving. When I go to school, there is always this teacher, he almost knocked down two of my friends in 2 consecutive days. He's not exactly old, but in his 50s or 60s. Imagine how blur he can be that he didn't notice them when the school is always crowded and he did not take extra precaution to slow down. One more time he's going to do that, I'm off to tell the principal, I can't face going to school having a paranoid feeling that I'll be next.
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Old 04-27-03, 02:09 AM
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Originally posted by oxologic
Maybe the elderly should be banned from driving, they are way too unsafe to be driving. When I go to school, there is always this teacher, he almost knocked down two of my friends in 2 consecutive days. He's not exactly old, but in his 50s or 60s.
Before we start judging the elderly too harshly, let's ask ourselves if this situation was caused by the age of the person concerned, or if they just weren't paying attention (which is common to people of all ages). I had to take evasive action a couple of weeks ago after a similar situation with someone who was definitely not elderly.

I agree that the incompetent/negligent should be removed from the roads, however I just feel that if this is done on the basis of age alone, it may not solve the problem.
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Old 04-27-03, 05:57 AM
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Originally posted by Chris L
Before we start judging the elderly too harshly, let's ask ourselves if this situation was caused by the age of the person concerned, or if they just weren't paying attention (which is common to people of all ages). I had to take evasive action a couple of weeks ago after a similar situation with someone who was definitely not elderly.

I agree that the incompetent/negligent should be removed from the roads, however I just feel that if this is done on the basis of age alone, it may not solve the problem.
Yes, it is a matter of competency, not age.

I know some drivers in their teens and 20's who are every bit as dangerous as the "elderly"(whatever that word means.)

I have drivers in their 30's and 40's tailgate me daily with their SUV's as I drive to work.

Drunk drivers are 10 times more dangerous (or perhaps 100 times) than almost any "elderly" driver I know.

Everyone needs to have their driving reevaluated regularly, starting with those who have received a violation involving speeding, careless driving or similar, or who have caused an accident.

It is easy to point our fingers at folks who are older. Some of us (the universal "us") need to look in the mirror first.

Incidentally, "elderly" is a horrible term to use. It has no defined meaning. To some, 40 is "elderly." To others, 90's is "elderly."

The older I get, the older elderly gets.
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Old 04-27-03, 08:40 AM
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Yep, if we're lucky, we're all going to be old one day and be the subject of these conversations. Maurizio your 'cruise missle' comment makes me wonder if you were the only thing she could focus on and that's what made her gravitate towards you.

Very unfortunate. Hope you, and your bike, get better soon.
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Old 04-27-03, 09:46 AM
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Thanks for all the comments guys, and yeah, I'll probably be pretty normal in short time. I just need to see some hand specialist plastic surgeon type guy to make sure that I don't get necrosis (I think that's what it's called...) where a broken off piece of bone in the body dies -- I guess that can be bad.

To clarify: The woman who gave me a lift home was the passer-by who witnessed the accident, and not the lady who hit me. I didn't get her number or name, but I do have all the info on the woman who hit me and she accepts full responsibility -- didn't argue with me or anything.

Broken crank vs. Broken BB: I thought the same thing at first, that carbon wouldn't bend like it did, but rather just break. But most carbon cranks have an aluminum spine in them so that they could bend, and the BB spins fine and in circles, which I think it wouldn't do if it were broken -- but who knows.

Insurance: The bike is at my LBS where they will write an appraisal of all the dammage. I'm friends with the guys that work there, and they've had to this for me before because of a previous accident. I figure that they're happy to write me an estimate, because for however big the estimate is, is how much I'll be buying from them to replace things. Usually someone from the insurance company will come to look at the bike to make sure that it is in fact dammaged, and possibly take pictures, but those people aren't so knowledgable about bikes and what is ridable or not, so if the LBS tells him or her that it's not ridable, then the insurnace person will take their word for it. Even if my bike shop chalked up the dammage assessment to indicate that the whole bike was tottaled (which it may be) the insurrance company probably doesn't see $3500-$4000 of fees all that bad considering a head on collision with a pedestrian.

Driving: Certainly there are probably 90 year olds out there who are very deserving of a lisence and are perfectly safe -- and there are people younger who aren't. I'm all for regular driving tests perhaps every 3-5 years to make sure that your skills aren't degrading. And also, harder tests. I'm aware that the driving tests in England are MUCH harder than here with no room for error. A cousin of mine who lives there took the test EIGHT times over there without passing, then came to the US and passed the test in one go. Perhaps the test ought to toughened up as well as having to pass "check-up's" or something like that. I think what partially may have caused this accident was that the woman was so close to her home, and that she may mentally have already been relaxing in her sofa. A lot of drivers are already preparing to get out of the car when they're only 20 secconds from home.

- Maurizio
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Old 04-27-03, 09:57 AM
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I hate reading stories like that. Although I try to ride rural and big shouldered roads as much as possible, this just proves that in only takes 1 bad driver to ruin your day.

Get well soon.
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Old 04-27-03, 11:25 AM
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Ouch.

I'm glad things weren't worse. I hope things work out well, and soon. Good luck.

But what a chilling story. Collision stories on this forum usually inspire a moment or two of reflection in me. In this case, there but for the grace of God...
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Old 04-27-03, 03:45 PM
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Your accident truly sounds like a nightmare from hell.

Truly, there should be higher standards set for driving- and EVERYONE should be retested after 3 years of driving, just to make sure they are still safe and competent.

My parents are in their 60s, and they are responsible drivers. My father has Parkinson's Disease, and before he was diagnosed, he knew something was very wrong, so he decided against driving anymore. My mom does all the driving now, which is reassuring. For what it's worth, even though I think my mom is an ok driver, I'm glad to know that they'll be moving in with my brother and his family in the next year. I don't think even my mom will be able to drive much longer, which is why they decided to make the move. I wish everyone could make decisions like that when they're licensed drivers. People should definitely take more responsibility when driving and remember that driving is a privilege, not a right. If you can't do the basics, don't drive.

For what it's worth, I'd sue the lady if it were me. No way would I have broken body parts and let her walk away with just paying for a new bike. She needs to be held accountable for her actions.

Good luck to you and your recovery.

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Old 04-27-03, 05:59 PM
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Sounds like a bad accident. I had a similar accident and damage last year,also from getting hit by a car. You're lucky it wasn't worse, I think we all agree on that- worse, meaning dead or crippled for life. But it sucks, bites and blows to have something like this happen!

Hopefully you wont' have to get a new frame! That's the worst- the other stuff can certainly be replaced but a new frame will be costly, hopefully you'll get a nice insurance settlement.

As for elderly drivers. I know many of them drive because they don't want to give up their independence, which I think we can all understand. And many of them live in areas where public transit may not be very plentiful. But there are some of them who really should not be driving. This woman could probably barely see over the wheel. If she can't control a car at 25mph, she is a menace.I'm sorry, but at some point, if you can't control a car or see properly, then you are a danger to everyone around you, no matter how old you are! I heard about an elderly woman who ran over a kid in a driveway because she didn't hear her screaming and didn't hear the neighbors screaming at her to stop!
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Old 04-27-03, 06:10 PM
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wow man...that is crazy...Glad you are on the way to recovery Hope you feel better soon
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Old 04-27-03, 06:11 PM
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I think retesting every 3 years would be a bit excessive.. Maybe every 3 years after age of 60-70, would make sense. But Realisticaly if you get your license at 18 do you need to be retested at 21? Also think of the cost of that, so you're taxes or registeratin would definately have to go up. There are some older people who drive great, then their are others who should not drive, of course I could say the same thing about younger people to. To be realistic based on statistics you could come up with a average age that people reactions times etc are start to go bad and start retesting every few years after that.
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Old 04-27-03, 06:22 PM
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The problem with older drivers is not their age, but rather, the effects that aging and disease have on the driver. An older driver experiences changes in vision, hearing, reduced reaction time and slowed processing time. These changes affect each person at different rates and at different ages. Complications from disease, memory loss or disability can compound the problem and increase risk of collision. A Driver Rehabilitation Specialist assesses a driver's fitness and makes recommendations to the dept. of motor vehicles and the driver's physician, thus helping folks make that critical decisions that Koffee's parents have been making. For more information, or to find an evaluator in your area, check out this website: http://www.driver-ed.org/ This is an international organization, so for you folks outside of the US, you may find a resourse in your country as well.

Heal fast, Maurizio! I'll be thinking about you.
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Old 04-28-03, 01:20 AM
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OMG... It's no joke. The shock of a moving vehicle coming towards you and there's nothing you can do but BRACE yourself for the impact. I've been there.. several times. Thank god your here. :-)

Maurizio, get well soon, babe.
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