Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Illinois Bicyclist Loses Life In Crash With Semi-Truck in Mahomet, Illinois

A bicyclist has lost their life as a result of injuries sustained in a collision with a semi-truck near  Mahomet, Illinois in Champaign County. According to reports, David Powell was killed when he was struck by a semi-truck driver who failed to provide the legally required distance when passing the bicyclist. The crash occurred on Friday around 9:30 a.m. when 46-year old David Powell was bicycling northbound on Illinois 47. This roadway is frequently used by bicyclists as it is just north of the Lake Of The Woods Bike Path. The roadway is one way in each direction. At the same time Roman Sydoruk, a 41-year old semi-truck driver from Michigan City, Indiana, was also travelling northbound on Illinois 47. 

"Improper Passing" of a Bicyclist: The 3-Foot Rule

As the driver came upon the bicyclist the collision occurred. According to news reports, the driver claims that he attempted to pass the bicyclist but struck the bicycle. Regardless of intended action, if there was contact between the semi-truck and the bicyclist then there was a violation of the "3-Foot Rule" which is based on sub-paragraph (d) of Section 11-703 of the Illinois Rules of the Road. This statute provides as follows:

(625 ILCS 5/11‑703) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑703)

Sec. 11‑703. Overtaking a vehicle on the left. The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules otherwise stated in this Chapter: 

(d) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.

The 3-Foot Rule is often misconstrued as requiring just three feet at the moment of passing on a roadway. The Illinois vehicle law actually requires a minimum of 3 feet between the bicycle and the motor vehicle when the motorist passes the bicyclist. In addition, the driver must maintain a distance of at least three feet until the motorist is "safely past" the overtaken bicyclist. The driver in this tragic case was ticketed for improper passing. 

Illinois and Federal Laws Address Duties of Truck Drivers

There are specific state and national laws that apply to drivers of commercial trucks. The drivers of commercial trucks are expected to be professionals and drive with the utmost care. These drivers are typically required to carry a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). These rules and regulations exist not just in state and local laws, but also in federal regulations. Here are some of the key laws that apply to a bicycle crash of this nature:

  • 49 C.F.R. Section 383.111 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires a professional driver to recognize and avoid potential hazards at all times.
  •  Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code states that every driver of a vehicle must 1) always exercise care to avoid colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists, and 2) sound their horn to provide warning of an impending impact. 

A Loss of A Life

Often lost in the details of news stories is the person who lost their life. David Powell was an experienced cyclist and very involved in the Champaign-Urbana road cycling community. The loss of David is more than a news story and certainly more than a statistic. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of David. May he rest in peace.