Biking Distractions That Can Get You Killed
Since your daughter got her license, you’re constantly reminding her about the importance of undisturbed driving focus. You tell her to always put her phone away, never to text or talk while driving, always to pay attention to her surroundings, and never to allow anything to distract her from driving safely.
Apparently, the lectures have made an impression, because she actually used your same words to call you out on a recent bike ride. You, your wife, and your precious teenager try to bike the Arlington Triangle at least three times a month, and yesterday was the first time in the past two weeks that you could get away from work. However, about halfway through the ride, your boss called you. As you put the phone up to your ear, your daughter rode up beside you and told you to pull over. Although slightly confused, you did as she asked.
You finished your phone call as your daughter and wife pulled off alongside you, patiently waiting for you to hang up the phone. As soon as you put your phone away, your daughter began her lecture, complete with hand quotation marks expressing the “importance of undisturbed focus” and “never answering the phone while driving.”
You tried to play the “Well, this is different” card, but you knew you’re not going to win the conversation. You conceded her point, and to the admiration of both her and your wife, you promised that you’ll never do it again.
But, seriously, you think: there is a safety difference between distracted driving and distracted biking, isn’t there?Dangerously Common Distractions for Bikers
Distractions account for nearly 500,000 bike, car, and pedestrian accidents each year in the United States, according to D!straction.gov, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving. Now, although certain driving distractions may not be illegal for bikers, they can still be highly dangerous for bikers, pedestrians and motorists alike. These distractions include:
- Texting. Not only does it keep your hands from stabilizing your bike, but it also keeps your eyes off the road or sidewalk.
- Talking on your phone. A phone conversation takes your focus off of the road, takes a hand off the handlebars, and weakens your control over the vehicle.
- Playing music. Listening to music with headphones can make it extremely difficult to hear traffic, pedestrians, and other bikers.
- Looking too far ahead. Although staying focused and looking ahead for potential problems is a good idea, not paying attention to the immediate area could be even more devastating.
Don’t allow a silly distraction, such as a phone call, to cause you a serious injury. If the call or text is that important, stop! It’s a lot easier and safer to brake and maneuver a bike out of the way, then it is to stop and move a car. Simply take the extra few seconds to stop, or wait until you’ve stopped, to reply or take the call.
Riding a bike requires a lot of focus and attention, especially in high traffic areas. Little distractions or lost focus could wind up putting your life at risk. Savor the nature around you, pay attention to your surroundings, and put your phone away while riding your bike. Not only will you protect yourself and avoid a potential accident, but you’ll also be a good role model to your family and fellow bikers.
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