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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Driver in Kalamazoo Slams into Nine Bicyclists, Killing Five

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Five bicyclists were killed and four more were seriously injured after they were hit by a blue Chevy pickup truck north of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The cyclist were on a group ride together, something they did often in the area. A witness said the driver hit the cyclists from behind; some bikes flew over the truck. The five deceased bicyclists were pronounced dead at the scene. The injured victims were transported to area hospitals. All victims were adults.

Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Getting said that three separate police agencies started receiving phone calls regarding the truck’s erratic driving about 30 minutes prior to the crash. Although officers were looking for the driver, they had not located him and were not in pursuit at the time of the crash. The pick-up truck sustained heavy front-end damage and was disabled after the crash. The driver fled on foot, but found a short time later and taken into police custody.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the investigation, said the crash is one of the worst, if not the worst, bicycling-motorist accidents in the county. They are still in the process of identifying victims and notifying their families. The Michigan State Police are handling crash reconstruction.

Although many facts of this crash are still unknown, this is a perfect time to remind motorists of a few safety tips when sharing the road with bicyclists.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Frequently look in your peripheral vision, not just in front of you.
  • Respect bicyclists’ right-of-way. When a bicycle lane is not present, bicyclists are supposed to travel in the right-hand lane.
  • When turning, especially when making a right turn on red, check the crosswalk to make sure it is clear before turning.
  • Check before you open your door. Many bicyclists are injured when they are struck by doors opening from parked vehicles.
  • Pay attention to traffic and weather conditions. Adjust your speed accordingly.
  • Always use your turn signal.
  • Remember, pedestrians always have the right-of-way. You always need to be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially if you are driving in residential neighborhoods where there are many children around.
  • Slow down and try to give the pedestrians as much room as possible.

Bicyclists must also do their part by:

  • Wear properly fitted bicycle helmets. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.
  • Obeying the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
  • When cycling in the street, ride in the same direction as traffic. When riding with others, do not ride more than 2 abreast on public roads.
  • Walk, do not ride, your bike through crosswalks.
  • Wear reflective clothing and install lights and reflectors on your bike.
  • Use hands to signal your moves.

Bicycle advocates say the way to cut accidents is to raise motorists awareness as to the likelihood they will encounter bicyclists on the road and that the law gives bike riders the same rights and responsibilities. Several states have gone as far as passing laws that require drivers to give bicyclists a minimum 3-foot berth as they pass. Other governmental entities have tried various solutions, such as enlarging shoulders on highways or reducing speed limits. Even with increased awareness, how to get drivers and bicyclists to safely share the road remains a vexing problem. The biggest message we can all take away is to pay attention and avoid distractions of any kind.

Lawsuit Financial extends its condolences to the family of the deceased and best wishes for a speedy recovery of those injured.