Archive for the ‘Pay Attention’ Category

Recreate on the Water But Do it Safely!

July 8, 2013

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So between vacations and a busy work schedule I dropped the ball on my weekly blog post. I’m sorry. I spent the past week with friends and family in Salt Lake City, Utah and Bear Lake, Idaho. Where we had the opportunity to do something I haven’t done in several years—go boating with my family. It was great to get the old slalom ski out and cut the wake—even if not as aggressively as I was once able (just to be clear, that’s not me in the photo–that’s professional water skier Andy Mapple).

I was amazed at something I didn’t recall in years past. Namely, the other boats, wave runners, and Jet Ski’s that were following closely behind us in order to jump over the wake behind us. I noticed the same thing when my kids were being pulled behind the boat on a large inner tube. I couldn’t help but wonder what could happen if one of us fell into the water and the wave runner or Jet Ski couldn’t see or react in time. As if reading my mind, my father-in-law commented about how many people are ran over ever year in Utah by such carelessness.

This of course happens elsewhere too—not just in Utah. It happens in Washington. In fact, just a few years ago DK Ross was ran over by a motor boater while he kayaker on American Lake. He suffered serious brain damage, multiple broken bones, and an unimaginable skull fracture. His life and the life of his family will never be the same.

Tragedies such as these can be prevented by taking just a few simple precautions and paying extra attention while enjoying recreational water activities. Washington law prevents “operating a vessel in disregard of careful and prudent operation, or in disregard of careful and prudent rates of speed that are no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of traffic, size of the lake or body of water, freedom from obstruction to view ahead, effects of vessel wake, and so as not to unduly or unreasonably endanger life, limb, property or other rights of any person entitled to the use of such waters.”  RCW 79A.60.030. What does this mean?  Don’t drive your boat like a moron.

Washington law also has specific laws targeted at various water activities:

Specific to water skiing, Washington law requires:

  • There be at least two persons on the boat (an “operator” and an “observer”);
  • The water skier wear a personal floatation device;
  • That water skiing take place only between one hour prior to sunrise and one hour after sunset; or
  • No person to conduct himself or herself in a reckless manner that willfully or wantonly endangers, or is likely to endanger, any person or property.

RCW 79A.60.170.

Specific to the operation of “personal watercraft”, Washington law requires:

  • All persons aboard wear a personal floatation device;
  • The operator attach a “lanyard-type engine cutoff switch” to his or her person, clothing, or personal floatation device;
  • That the personal watercraft shall not be operated during “darkness”;
  • Operators be at least 14 years of age;
  • “A person shall not operate a personal watercraft in a reckless manner, including recklessly weaving through congested vessel traffic, recklessly jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably or unnecessarily close to the vessel or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or recklessly swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision.”

RCW 79A.60.190.

In the end, if we can all follow a few common sense rules and watch out for other people on the lakes and rivers where we recreate, we can all have a more safe and enjoyable summer with many more to enjoy in the future.

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Last Day of School Means More Kids Outside “Playing”

June 18, 2013

260562_511552342225126_250326176_nRock legend “Alice Cooper” may have coined the lyrics, but today kids all over Vancouver are singing them:

No more pencils;
No more books;
No more teachers dirty looks!

If you live in the Vancouver School District, today marks the long-awaited first day of summer. No longer will our children spend hours in the classroom and at the kitchen table working on homework or studies. Gone are the days of writing and arithmetic.  With this newly rediscovered freedom comes balls, and bikes, and games.  Unfortunately, this time also represents the most dangerous period for our children.

It goes without mentioning that kids don’t pay attention. Despite our constant and recurrent pleas that our little ones not run into the road before looking both ways, they will.  They do. Despite our many reminders, they will ride their bikes into the street before looking for cars. These types of occurrences happen much more often  than we care to admit and they create a dangerous, even life-threatening situation for our children.

With this in mind, we drivers must slow down.  We must pay attention.  We must be the driver we would want on the roadway if it was our children playing where they ought not to be playing in a way that they ought not to play.  SLOW DOWN!  and PAY ATTENTION!

As a father of three (almost four), I understand firsthand the fear I experience every time my kids play in the front yard. I know, despite my constant vigilance and admonishing, “kids will be kids” and they will dart, dash, run, ride into the roadway.  That’s what kids do. In their minds, they are invincible and don’t know what death is much less that it is them that could run into the road one minute and not wake up the next.

We drivers have to make up for their youthful shortcomings. We do this not only by slowing down, but by paying attention to the things outside of our car and not things inside of our car (cell phones, radio, makeup, lunch, etc.). We need to be ever cautious in neighborhoods, especially where children are present. We even don our Sherlock Holmes’ hat and use our deductive reasoning skills. Where we see one child, we can bet that he or she is playing with someone. Where we see a ball in the street, it is safe to assume a kid put it there and will soon be out to get it. Where we see a bicycle lying on the sidewalk, we can suppose that its rider is somewhere close by. Watch out for these kids. Let them enjoy their summer how summers were supposed to be enjoyed.

I shudder at the thought of something tragic happening to my children. Probably more concerning however, is the thought that my carelessness could forever take the life of someone’s Johnny or Sally. I just don’t know if I could cope with that guilt and remorse. Neither could you. Make safe our roads. Be safe out there and watch out for children.

 

 

Do I Really Need to Share the Road with “Them”?

May 7, 2013

We have all seen more motorcycles and bicycles on our roadways recently–blame it on the sun. During the past two weeks three motorcyclists injured in crashes caused by other drivers retained our firm to represent them. Unfortunately, if history is any indication of the future, these clients are only the tip of the iceberg of injured victims.

All too often motorcyclists and bicyclists get a bad rap. They’re always referred to as the “crazy ones” who don’t obey the laws and go too fast or too carelessly. While this may be true in many instances the “bad” few make for “bad” stereotypes. As an avid cyclist myself, I know firsthand that most cyclists obey the rules of the road and try to follow the safety guidelines established for their own safety and the safety of others. The same can be said for motorcyclists. After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the bicycle/motorcycle will lose every single time when involved in a crash with an automobile.

All this discussion about rules of the road and safety guidelines begs the question–what actually are the laws that motorcyclists and bicyclists must follow and how can those driving cars do their part to better protect motorcyclist and bicyclist safety?

BICYCLE LAWS:

The Washington State Department of Transportation has provided a good summary of applicable bike laws and other resources.  Below are some of the most pertinent:

Bicycle Helmets – Currently, there is no state law requiring helmet use. However, some cities and counties require helmets. Vancouver city is one example–it is mandatory for all persons to wear a bike helmet when biking in Vancouver City Limits.

Riding on the Road – When riding on a roadway, a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver (RCW 46.61.755). Cyclists who violate traffic laws may be ticketed (RCW 46.61.750). To bicyclists: Obey the law. To drivers: Learn to share.

Children Bicycling – Parents or guardians may not knowingly permit bicycle traffic violations by their ward (RCW 46.61.700).

Riding Side by Side – Cyclists may ride side by side, but not more than two abreast (RCW 46.61.770).

Riding at Night – For night bicycle riding, bikes MUST be equipped with a working white front light (not a reflector) visible for 500 feet and a red rear reflector. I would recommend a red rear light in addition to the required reflector (RCW 46.61.780).

Shoulder vs. Bike Lane – Cyclists may choose to ride on the path, bike lane, shoulder or travel lane as suits their safety needs (RCW 46.61.770). Again, bicyclists: Obey the law. Drivers: Share the road.

MOTORCYCLE LAWS:

Motorcyclists are subject to the same laws and rules as drivers of automobiles. It’s worth noting that motorcyclists must wear helmets and it is permissible for two motorcycles to ride side-by-side in a single lane.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

One of the greatest dangers to bicycle/motorcycle operators is a vehicle turning in front of them. These drivers simply don’t see the bicycle/motorcycle that is all too frequently there to be seen–many times they don’t even look. As common sense would dictate, the resulting collision is often catastrophic–for the cyclist/motorcyclist. Look before making your turn.

One of the most stupid and idiotic things a bicyclist can do (I suppose it would be equally crazy for a motorcyclist) is to ride on the wrong side of the road–facing oncoming traffic. This is a sure recipe to get oneself killed or injured so badly they’d wish they had been killed. Drivers who approach from a cross street intending to make a right turn, don’t always look to their right for oncoming traffic–why should they? They would not be expected to anticipate a cyclist approaching from their right.

Regardless of whether you prefer the 2-wheeled or 4-wheeled methods of transportation, obey the law. Share the road. Pay attention. Follow the rules. Be smart. Don’t be a statistic.


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