WHY LOOK AT FATAL CRASH REPORTS?
Shortly after the new year began Ohio suffered its first fatal bicycle crash. We are still waiting to hear the details.
As I do with ALL fatal bike crashes, I have ordered the full report, including all witness statements, photos and police video, measurements, crash reconstruction data and the like. I will be updating this Crash Report page on the OBF site when further data become available.
My goal when I started tracking fatal crashes in 2009 was to look closely at these crashes, using my "trial lawyer" eyes and my "cyclist" and "bike advocate" eyes to try to figure out what happened and why.
There are, typically, 1500-2000 "bike" crashes in Ohio for which crash reports are prepared. However, we average around 16 fatal crashes. The fatal crashes tend to very thoroughly investigated so looking at fatal crash reports offers the chance to see what should be the very best in crash investigation. In the past, I have certainly experienced, and fought against, discrimination against cyclists or investigations in which the officer did not really understand the case from a cyclist's perspective. I wanted to try to insure that such discrimination did not happen any longer.
Initially, we review these reports in great detail to see if we think the police "got it right." Did the investigating authorities properly analyze the facts and properly assess fault or blame? Did the police and prosecutor aggressively pursue errant motorists with criminal charges. Where and why are these crashes happening? Are they relatively random or do certain roads or cities have higher incidence of severe/fatal crashes.
I felt that my 30+ years of experience as a trial lawyer who had handled 1000s of "traffic" cases and 100s of "bike" cases, including taking cases to trial in several Ohio counties, would provide me with an excellent technical background for assessing the investigation and case evaluation by law enforcement. I have worked with, and cross examined, some of the top bicycle accident experts in the country and have handled "bike" cases ranging from $50 traffic tickets to 7-figure brain damage and death cases.
I've also worked in the "bicycle advocacy" field since the early 1980's. I believe my trial lawyer background and my years as an avid cyclist and bike advocate provide me with a unique blend of experience for reviewing and talking about the issues raised in these cases.
As an OBF Board member for many years, I am looking forward to updating this page regularly and keeping ALL Ohio cyclists abreast of what is happening around the state.
We also hope to track any criminal & civil cases that arise from these crashes. From time to time, depending on the circumstances, we may also recommend that cyclists become involved in the process by writing letters relative to sentencing or other issues
Since 2009 we have found a high percentage of fatal crashes occur at night. However, we know that the percentage of riding that occurs at night is fairly low compared to the percentage done in the daylight. Often, the nighttime crashes involve cyclists who are poorly lit or who fail to use lighting devices. Clearly, crashes occuring in the dark are a big problem in Ohio.
Despite all of the conversation here about bad crashes, the fact remains that these are VERY rare occurrences. There are millions of cyclists in Ohio who ride 10's and 100's of millions of miles each year. There are a few car/bike crashes - 1,500 or so. There are very few fatal crashes - an average of 15-16 per year.
Ohio, statistically, is and remains one of the SAFEST states in which to ride!
FIRST 2017 FATAL BIKE CRASH
When: 1/1/2017 - 2:40 am
Where: Wagner Ford Road - Harrison Twp - Montgomery County Ohio
Details: Wilbur Vanwey, age 47, was riding northbound on Wagner Ford Road at 2:40 am, shortly after the new year, when he was rear-ended by a 2013 Nissan Altima driven by a "Timothy Talley.” The crash is being investigated by the Montgomery County Sheriff's office and the investigation is ongoing.
LINKS RELATING TO THE CRASH