Earlier this month, I posted about Devin Kunich, of Kenosha, Wisc., who was hit from behind while cycling just after midnight by a young female driver who was blind in one eye, not wearing her corrective lenses, and talking on her cellphone.
At the time, I suggested that the driver, Quashae Taylor, might get off with a wrist slap because the cyclist was wearing dark colours and appeared not to have lights on his bike. Taylor has been charged with negligent homicide and at last week's preliminary hearing, was bound over for trial.
There have been comments about that item since, including the observation that a bike light was found at the scene.
I have also had some web conversations with Devin's father, Gary, who spoke about his son in this article on a Kenosha news site, KenoWi. There were 1,000 people at Devin's funeral, a testament to the loss his community feels.
One of the things Gary Kunich is trying to do is to make people aware of the dangers of distracted driving. He's changed his Facebook profile pic to a poster that says: "Don't drive distracted. Put away your electronic devices before you start your engine. In Memory of Devin." He's also launched a Facebook page that you can join here, and has ordered 300 pink wristbands that say, "Save a Life. Hang up and drive."
Gary has other plans to get a public discussion going about distracted driving, although he is keeping a relatively low profile for the time being, so as to not hinder in any way the negligent homicide court case. But a non-profit foundation may be in the future.
Wisconsin is one of the many U.S. states to not have a cellphone-driving ban. No texting while driving in Wisconsin, but cellphones are apparently OK. Getting such a ban in Wisconsin might be the first step for Gary Kunich.
While it seems to me that cellphone and texting bans are no brainers, it's also clear that a the ban will stop the practice. We have a ban here in Ontario, but I'm driving back and forth to Toronto almost every week, and every week, I see slow-moving vehicles, vehicles that slowly weave from side to side in their lane, and, worse, fast-moving vehicles, that all have something in common: a driver who is talking or texting on a smart device.
(Why do they call them smartphones, when the users are so clearly stupid?)
Trial or no trial, the matter of distracted driving is one that can be raised at any time, and especially with the cycling community. Talk to your friends, get them thinking about their in-car behaviours. I know that they say it will never happen to them, but it can.