Monday, November 9, 2020

Illinois Bicyclist Killed in Crash with Passing Truck in Southern Illinois

Last Thursday, November 5, 2020, a bicyclist was killed in a collision with a truck while cycling in southern Illinois. According to reports, 58-year-old David Coleson was riding a bicycle southbound on Illinois 3 near its intersection with Airport Road in Alexander County. Alexander County is best known for being the southernmost county in the State of Illinois. 

The Illinois State Police reported that Mr. Coleson was killed after we was struck by a truck while riding his bicycle. According to the Illinois State Police the collision occurred when both Mr. Coleson and the driver of the truck were both travelling southbound on Illinois 3. The driver reported that Mr. Coleson turned left into the truck at the moment the truck passed and the driver of the truck was unable to avoid striking the bicycle. 

The Illinois State Police continue to investigate this fatal crash. 

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

The only available information is contained in news reports which seem to primarily use the Illinois State Police's report as the basis of their information. As such, the information available is limited and it would be unfair to make conclusions as to what exactly occurred. 

What we do know is that in Illinois a driver of a motor vehicle passing a bicyclist has certain duties to the bicyclist when passing. If there was contact between the truck and the bicyclist then there could be 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 Illinois Rule of the Road 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 requires a minimum of 3 feet between the bicycle and the motor vehicle when the motorist passes the bicyclist. The motorist is required to "leave a safe distance" that is not necessarily determined by the number of feet. In addition, the driver must maintain this distance of at least three feet until the motorist is "safely past" the overtaken bicyclist. While the specific information available is only available from these reports, common experience suggests that there was little reason for a bicyclist to turn into a passing truck. Ideally the Illinois State Police's investigation provides more information, on way or another, as to the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mr. Coleson and everyone affected by this tragic loss of life.