A settlement has been reached regarding a claim resulting from my accident last year.
The accident happened on December 5th 2006 when a female driver in an SUV traveling in the opposite direction, made a left turn in front of me and I ran head first into the side of the vehicle.
I was wearing a helmet at the time, but still sustained a hairline skull fracture. I had multiple bruises and the worst injury was damage to a nerve in my right eye, resulting in double vision.
The double vision was severe at first but has gradually improved to slight. Every morning when I wake, my eyes are in perfect focus, but after I have been up for 15 minutes of so, my vision goes back to double. Doctors tell me the fact that my vision varies tells them that it will return to normal in time.
I am not going to talk about the settlement itself, but now the case is resolved I can write about the accident and what I learned from this whole episode.
Lessons I learned here might be of value to others, either in avoiding a similar accident, or learning what to do should you be unfortunate enough to be in one.
The accident happened on Savannah Hwy., Charleston, South Carolina. This is a busy main road, two lanes of traffic either side, with a center turn lane. The businesses on both sides of this particular section are mostly car dealerships.
I was traveling south, it was a clear sunny day. A strong wind was blowing behind me so I was probably doing at least 25 mph. There was a steady flow of traffic in both lanes beside me, traveling in my direction. Because of this, I was not expecting anyone to turn in front of me, from the center lane.
I had just come through a traffic light, which was green, but I believe it changed to red right after I passed through. The result was, this person was sitting in the center lane waiting to turn, and did so when all the residual traffic had passed.
The problem is cars are faster than bicycles, so when the last motorized vehicle went through I was lagging behind. The driver did not see me, partly because I was hidden by the flow of traffic, but mainly because the driver was concentrating on the “gap” in traffic.
When that gap came the driver “floored it” to get quickly across the two opposing lanes. The driver then slowed to almost a complete stop to negotiate the ramp over the curb.
This gave me no chance; I was about 20 feet away when the vehicle appeared in front of me. I had about one second to react, and swerved to the left to go behind it and I might have made it had the vehicle kept moving, but the driver stopped giving me no chance.
What annoys me is, these SUVs are depicted in TV ads driving up the side of a mountain, over boulders almost as big as the vehicle. In real life a driver slows to almost a complete stop to negotiate a four inch ramp up a curb.
Lessons I learned here. Be aware of vehicles in the center lane, waiting to turn across my path. Be aware of traffic behind me, mainly by turning my head slightly and listening.
If there is a vehicle behind me that is my protection, but if there is no one behind me, look out. There maybe a gap in traffic and the person turning may not have seen me.
It may be to my advantage, if safe to do so, to move to the left to the center of the lane. This means the driver turning is more likely to see me, and if they do turn in front of me, gives me more room to maneuver and swerve behind them.
On Monday I will post a second part and talk about what you can do to protect your rights, if you are as unfortunate as I was, to be involved in an accident.