Re: Using your head…
John Foss wrote:
>But even more convincing, and personally effective, are all the stories
>by the people in my classes when we talk about accidents we’ve been in
>what we might learn from them.
I thought I would weight with this.
My wife is a pediatrician and sees many cases that involve bike injuries. A
couple of years ago she saw two cases in one day that make a very serious point.
The first was a boy who had a head on collision with a truck. Both were breaking
at the last minute to try to avoid the accident, but they still met with enough
force that the truck was left with a large, helmet shaped dent in the front. The
boy walked away with headache and a cracked helmet, but was otherwise uninjured.
Shortly after that she saw a girl (who wasn’t one of her regular patients) who
was in for a follow up check up from an earlier bike accident. She had been
riding her bike on the sidewalk in front of her house. When she turned into her
driveway the family cat ran out and startled the girl. She swerved, lost control
and hit a tree with her head. She wasn’t going very fast, but she wound up with
a steel plate in her head, and brain damage that will impair the girls for the
rest of her life. My wife inquired, as gently as possible, as to why the girl
wasn’t wearing a helmet. The girl’s mother said she didn’t think she needed one
since she was just riding on the sidewalk and wasn’t going very fast.
I know you can’t, and even shouldn’t, try to protect yourself against every
possible danger. However, some precautions are reasonable. A helmet is one of
them. Wear ing a helmet is a good habit. As a matter of course I wear a helmet
whenever I hop on a bike or a unicycle. I don’t try to decide if I really need
one or not. The vast majority of my cycling is done mountain unicycling. I
always wear a helmet, knee pads , and wrist guards. (A precaution my wife
suggested. She sees many wrist injuries from rollerblading accidents and
assumed, correctly, that there is the potential for similar injuries as I try to
ride through bumps and I am suddenly thrown forward with only my hands to break
my fall. A precaution I am glad I have taken especially after reading here
earlier about the MUni broken wrist story. I didn’t really start to learn to
ride on trails until I started trying to ride out of places where I was stuck
instead of always stepping out.)
The biggest point I am trying to make is that the one that finally gets you is
often something you hadn’t considered at all. I wear a helmet as protection, and
to set the example for my kids and anyone else who sees me riding. Young people
often think they are bulletproof and don’t foresee many potential problems.
Yesterday morning my sons were involved in a traffic accident while driving to
school. As they were driving through an intersection a car, which was traveling
in the opposite direction at a speed well above the speed limit, attempted to
turn left and hit my son’s car directly behind the driver’s seat. The car spun
two or three times as it passed through the intersection and came to rest on the
shoulder of the road. The impact crushed the back of the car. The door jam was
broken and the driver’s side door flew open. Fortunately they were both wearing
seat belts (a habit we enforced from day one) or they might have been thrown out
of the vehicle. They both escaped uninjured. I thank God for this, especially as
they were driving our old 1970 VW Bug. I am kicking myself now for letting them
drive a car with such outdates safety equipment. I am relieved that what little
protection they had was enough to save them in this particular accident.
The other car was a late model Volvo GLE. It continued through the
intersection after the impact and came to a rest on the far side of the road.
It sustained damage to the front end. I’m not sure how the occupants of the
Volvo are. They were both injured and taken to the hospital. Neither of them
were wearing seat belts.
I’m not going to wrap myself in full body armor to ride a unicycle. But, I don’t
want to guess when the unthinkable set of freak circumstances might occur when I
am suddenly falling backwards, my foot gets stuck on the pedal and I can’t get
it off, and I can’t get my hand back, and my fall is broken by my head.
Conclusion. Wearing a helmet while cycling is a good habit to get into. Wearing
a seat belt in a car is a good habit to get into. If you must drive a VW Beetle,
get a new one with driver side, passengerside, and door air bags. And, if a cat
suddenly jumps out in front of you on you bike or your unicycle or you new VW
Beetle, don’t swerve, hit the cat.
All the best,
I am not now, and never have been an employee of Volkswagen, any safety
equipment companies . I do not profit in any way from the sale of either VW’s,
bike helmets, or wrist guards.