In a Split Second

I live with it every day
For every step I have to pay
The only thing that they can’t take
The guilt that spirals in my wake

—Barenaked Ladies

The director of Bike Florida, Ron Cunningham, has written a poignant post about the death of a cyclist during last week’s event. Robert Paul King was killed by a distracted driver who drifted into the shoulder:

Mr. King was killed after being struck from behind by a fast-moving pickup truck. The driver, a young man, reportedly told police he had dropped his cell phone and was reaching down to retrieve it when his vehicle drifted into the marked shoulder where Mr. King had been cycling.

Rather than rant against the driver, Ron says this:

It takes only a split second of inattention to transform the mundane into the terrifying. I am certain that the young man who struck down Robert Paul King in an instant of distraction would dearly love to have that split second back. But he can never get it back. And now another cyclist is gone and another young driver’s life has been altered forever.

That is a picture of reality we would all do well to internalize. If we were all mindful of this possibility while operating our vehicles, there would be a lot less carnage on our roads. Unfortunately, the very fact that most people consistently get away with moments of inattention while driving leads us into complacency.