One the things I find the most irksome about the Tucson Police Department’s various bad policies is their habit of telling wounded cyclists that if they have to write up an accident report they are going to give the cyclist a ticket.
Here’s how it works:
A cyclist gets hit by a car, and is lying in the pavement dazed. Assuming the cyclist is not suffering a serious injury, the officer will then try to determine fault. As I have written many times before, “carhead” tends to point toward the cyclist being at fault.
If the officer determines the cyclist was at fault, he will then often give the cyclist a choice: you can leave here and forget about all this, or you can stay and get a ticket. Which do you pick?
Most of the time the cyclist is in shock and is not thinking clearly. Add to that a lot of frowning motorists and an officer telling the cyclist to scram, the cyclist usually scrams.
Then, once home, the cyclist starts to calm down and maybe notice the broken rib or the unrelenting dizziness. Then the cyclist may start playing the accident through his or her mind and realize that the person at fault was actually the driver. But now the motorist is long gone and there is no record of the accident. There is no insurance company to call. And the police have no records because they didn’t make a report.
If this sounds preposterous to you, let me tell you: it happens all the time. I got another call today from someone who had this happen to him. He was dragged under a car that ran a red light. Miraculously, he escaped with a minor bone fracture, possible concussion, and soft tissue injuries. Wandering around in a daze afterwards, no one came to his aid and motorists would not even get out of the way for him to retrieve his things. The driver who hit him insisted he had done nothing wrong. By the time the police got there, the poor cyclist was really in a state, outnumbered and sore and terrified from being dragged down Aviation Parkway under a truck whose driver apparently never even saw him.
When offered the chance to either go home or get a ticket, he decided to go home.
But once he got home, of course, his adrenalin levels started to fall and he was able to see just how injured he really was.
I think it is completely irresponsible for TPD to do this to people. Cyclists who have been dragged down Aviation Parkway underneath trucks are guaranteed to be in shock. I don’t care how many times you have read this and other bike safety blogs, if it happens to you, you are not going to be thinking clearly either. In my experience, cyclists nearly always feel guilt and shame after being hit by a car, and they just want to clear out of there, even if they were not even remotely at fault.
For police to take advantage of this and make deals on the street with cyclists to just go away or get ticketed is, in my view, offensively improper behavior.