A man riding a bicycle along U.S. 301 in Florence, South Carolina (SC), suffered fatal injuries in a rear-end collision on the night of August 28, 2015. The deadly crash happened near the community of Olanta, and police initially classified it as a hit-and-run accident.
Authorities were able to quickly identify and apprehend a suspected at-fault driver. That individual now faces criminal charges for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident that involved a death. News reports do not indicate whether the person who allegedly struck the bike rider from behind and then drove off without rendering aid or accepting responsibility was impaired by alcohol or drugs. While drinking and driving claims several hundred lives in South Carolina each year, one recent estimate indicates that nearly one in five traffic fatalities across the United States involve a drugged driver.
The tragedy also highlights the constant risks bicyclists face from even sober drivers on all roads. Too many people in cars and trucks fail to follow bicycles at a safe distance, leave enough space when attempting to pass slower-moving bikes and simply fail to see and respond appropriately to bicycles moving with traffic. Being drunk or stoned can compound these negligent and reckless behaviors, but the real problem is that too few drivers appear willing or able to treat bicycles as they do other, larger vehicles. Patience, respect and close attention are required to protect bike riders from getting injured or killed.