Lucky Days and Car Accidents…

I’ve always felt as though I’m a very lucky individual. Not in the go-to-Vegas-and-win-a-million sense, but things usually work out pretty well (I certainly hope that I haven’t cursed myself). Luck aside, I also can’t rule Karma out of the picture. Like most people, I’d like to think that I have accumulated more good Karma than bad throughout my 25 years. Well, yesterday I cashed the biggest karmic paycheck of my life.

What started out as a beautiful, crisp, and sunny early-spring day changed quickly when I glanced in my rearview mirror only to see it filled with the fast-approaching grill and headlights of a Dodge pickup. There was what felt like a micro-second between the realization that I was about to be hit and the impact which vaulted me up onto the hood of the truck, thankfully not underneath. After slamming the back of my helmeted head down on the hood, the truck catapulted me toward the shoulder of the road where I somehow managed to land on my feet. Elapse time for the whole operation couldn’t have been more than a second, but seemed both shorter and longer. As I made my way curbside I began the bodily evaluation; legs: working order–left calf’s a little sore, arms: check, core: bit of soreness in middle back–otherwise fine, head: definitely rang my bell but stayed conscious and only feeling a little fuzzy. At this point I was amazed at all the worse I was feeling after being rear-ended by a truck doing somewhere in the vicinity of 35mph. Now, that’s what I call luck.

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Poor Bike

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As I write this I’m feeling quite conflicted about the idea of commuting–my confidence has been shaken. I certainly don’t want to give it up, but I’ve also taken quite a few precautions to minimize risk. Today, for instance, I was wearing my heinously-bright yellow jacket, and riding smack-ass in the middle of the right-most of two lanes. You’d think someone wearing a vivid yellow jacket riding on a moderately traveled straightaway would be visible?

Like many of you, I have always felt that driving should not be considered a right, but rather a privilege that must be earned. A more experience and education intensive licensing program, like those in many European countries, would make the roads exponentially safer for all. I also believe the elderly should be required to pass a physical and eye exam bi-yearly (or similar) in order to retain their license. Yesterday’s experience has only further solidified these ideas, as the older gentleman who hit me “just took his eyes off the road for a second” and “didn’t see” me despite every other driver on the road’s ability to plainly see what was about to transpire.

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So what have I learned from this experience? Wear a damn helmet, and no matter how repulsively geeky a mirror might be, they are a really good idea. While a mirror obviously didn’t prevent my accident, I still knew what was happening behind me. As for helmets, I’m pretty certain I would be in bad shape right now had I been without. Seeing folks on the road without a helmet, which seems to be done for status or fashion, pains me immensely. Accidents happen and they can be totally out of your control, wearing a helmet may be the difference between walking away–or not.

Wear a helmet, please, I beg you.

–Justin Steiner

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