You're riding down the bike lane when an SUV goes by. There's plenty of space to move over, but the driver neglects to do so, coming within a foot or so of your bike. It's way too close. On top of that, the SUV is going about 60 miles per hour, even though you are clearly in a 45 MPH zone. As the vehicle goes by, you look up and see that the driver is texting and looking down as they pass you. While you watch, the SUV actually drifts into the bike lane about 20 feet ahead of you.
Sound familiar? It's probably something that happens a lot. Even when you don't get into an accident, you wind up with your heart pounding, feeling like you almost lost your life just trying to ride your bike. You know that, one of these days, someone is going to hit you. And you feel like it's probably going to be an SUV.
But are you just biased? Maybe the size of the SUV makes you feel less safe. Maybe you feel like SUV drivers are irresponsible in general because of the damage they're doing to the environment. Or are you onto something?
While there is something to be said for both unnecessary size and environmental impact, you are not just biased. Studies do back up the way that you feel. When looking at distraction scores, people in vans, pickup trucks and SUVs all tend to do worse than those in smaller coupes and sedans. You face greater risks from those oversized SUVs.
Why this is? It's complex, but one issue is that people in big vehicles tend to feel safer. The vehicle, which poses a greater potential threat to those around it, lulls the driver in with a sense of security. They know they're protected. If someone in a massive Cadillac Escalade hits someone in a Mini Cooper, who is going to suffer more severe injuries?
This sense of safety changes their mindset when they drive because the reality is that many of them only think about their own lives and their own safety. They neglect to consider the ramifications for others. They don't think about how distractions and inattentive driving could put a cyclist or another driver in the hospital. They just think about the fact that they're probably going to be fine, so sending that text message doesn't seem like a big deal. Neither does breaking the speed limit.
Someday, you may be right. You may get hit and injured in an auto accident. If so, it is absolutely crucial that you understand all of the legal options you have in Illinois to seek financial compensation.