Accident Prone

Do you know someone that is accident prone? I know I do.

I have a brother and a sister that are accident prone and have been since they were children. I’m the oldest, so I witnessed the gore. Knocked out teeth, stitches in foreheads and broken bones were routine among those two, whereas my other sister and I went through childhood relatively scar free. In fact, I was 37 years-old before I first saw the inside of an emergency department and my sister was about the same age when she did.

I have known people that are constantly involved in accidents.  Car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, catching things on fire(!) accidents, chain saw(!) accidents  just seem to be a normal part of life for these people. Everybody has something happen sometimes, but these people tend to have more accidents than others.

My wife likes to tell me about this widow she knew. Her husband took up running and was hit three times by cars, so he took up cycling and was killed within the month. My wife is certain that my mortality will be similar to his and after a couple of years when it hasn’t, she is sure it will be that day. I think he was just accident prone, just like my brother and sister.

I ride my bike  slowly compared to many people and can stop very quickly.  I rarely take a hand off the handlebar, so people think I am being rude by not waving. I watch the road surface carefully and now, thanks to Mighk and Keri, I use enough of the road to keep myself safe — I didn’t used to do that. I am aware of motorists that make dumb right and left turns in front of me and know what to do to avoid them.

I rode my bike, in the ’70’s, in NYC  (even Manhattan) and Atlanta with nary a mishap. How was this possible? According to all the safety experts I should have been long dead — run over by crazy motorists, like the widow’s husband.

I read things by bicycle “advocates” that say, “I was hit three times last year and I think we need . . . ” FULL STOP What? You were hit three times last year? I ignore what they say after that because it should be obvious that anyone that gets hit three times in a year is doing something wrong.

4 replies
  1. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Certainly three accidents in a year suggests a bit of skpticism about the person. My dad had three accidents (in a car) in not much longer. Never had one before or since. Sometimes the cards just fall that way.

    Accident prone people I’ve seen, more often than not, contribute to that condition, but not always.

  2. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    Along the same lines, I know people who keep having “bad luck”. Same kind of thing — bad luck because they get hit on their bike. Bad luck because they get a DUI driving just a few blocks from their home after two beers. Bad luck because they lose their job due to being late (again) because this time it was a flat tire. On and on …..

    You start to wonder about people who keep having “bad luck”, and I agree with SteveA that somehow you know it’s not all about the luck but about their actions ……

  3. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Those of us in the traffic safety profession prefer to use the word “crash” instead of accident. In the vast majority of collisions, one or both parties committed a violation of the rules of the road, or at least an error in judgment.

    Over about 35 years I’ve had three cycling crashes which involved other road users. The first was when I was about 13-14 years old and just getting the hang of toeclips. Fiddling with the straps and not paying attention, I ran into the back of parked car. Crash, not accident.

    In the second (around age 15-16), my cycling partner suddenly cut across my path, and my pedal ran into his front wheel, sending me over the bars. Crash, not accident.

    In the third, a motorist — probably under the influence of something — followed me for a few blocks, missing many opportunities to pass on a 2-lane street. Finally he came by within the lane, and bumped my left foot. I did not fall off the bike — or even leave the roadway — but it still qualifies as a crash, and a hit & run at that. No accident.

    So that’s three crashes in about 160,000 miles.

    A couple months ago I was fielding calls and e-mails from a guy who wanted some legal assistance. He claimed to have had six crashes in as many months. You don’t crash that often by being “unlucky.”

  4. acline
    acline says:

    I’ve had one crash in six years of using my bicycle full time for basic transportation. It was entirely my fault — the result of absolutely bone-headed behavior on my part. It occurred in the first of those six years. I learned a lesson (about lane positioning) that has served me well since.

    This idea is ripe for study. But it’s out of my academic area 🙂

Comments are closed.