A recent incident in Houston has led to calls for stricter enforcement and increased penalties for drivers who injure or kill bicyclists through negligence. Chelsea Norman was the victim of a hit-and-run accident on December 1, 2013 and died of injuries sustained in that accident a few days later. On February 5, 2014, Houston police arrested Margaret Renee Mayer for not stopping to offer assistance after she allegedly struck Norman with her car and then left the scene of the accident. Chelsea Norman was found some time later and was transported to the hospital, where she later died. The investigation revealed that Mayer had been drinking on the night of the accident, but it is not known whether Mayer or Norman was directly at fault for the collision. Limited Legal Recourse Chelsea Norman's fate has led to calls for increased bicycle safety programs and harsher penalties for drivers who fail to comply with state and local traffic ordinances regarding bike lanes. Mayer is currently charged only with failure to stop and give aid after an accident. In cases like these, seeking legal help from a qualified Houston auto accident lawyer can sometimes provide an alternative way to hold drivers accountable for their actions. An attorney specializing in Houston wrongful death cases can provide families with compensation for their losses and can help to provide closure in this difficult time. The right Houston personal injury attorney can help victims of these accidents to manage medical expenses and other associated costs of their recovery period. Recent Events Prompt Concern The hit-and-run accident that claimed Chelsea Norman's life is not an isolated incident in Houston. The city was the scene of two similar hit-and-run collisions within two months of Norman's death:
- Nabor Rosas-Inclan's body was found on January 13, 2014, near the Brays Bayou Bike Trail. It is believed he was the victim of a hit-and-run collision on Broadway near the Houston Ship Channel and the force of the accident sent Rosas-Inclan into the water, where he was later found by two fishermen.
- On December 20, 2013, Stephen Belle lost his life after his bicycle was struck by an unknown vehicle as he crossed Normandy near the East Freeway in Houston. The hit-and-run driver has yet to be located by police, and few leads are available.
Public safety officials and leaders in the Houston cycling community have joined forces to call for added driver awareness and increased enforcement of current bike lane laws and regulations. A Serious Disadvantage Bicyclists are at a significant disadvantage in collisions with larger vehicles. The light weight and reduced protection afforded to cyclists can create serious injuries even in low-speed accidents. Helmets and other protective gear can allow a greater degree of safety on the road. Bike lanes are also helpful in establishing a clear path for cyclists to follow away from other traffic. Houston has established bike lanes and trails to allow cyclists to navigate the city more safely; however, a concerted effort to raise bicycle awareness among Houston drivers may be required to prevent further tragic accidents in the future. By pursuing legal action against drivers who cause accidents through negligence or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, families and victims can achieve a small degree of closure on these incidents. Settlements reached with the help of a qualified personal injury attorney can provide valuable assistance in managing medical bills and providing financial support throughout the victim's recovery. Compensation for wrongful death cases can allow families to start over again after the loss of their loved one. Ultimately, however, increasing driver awareness of bikes on the roadways will be the key to reducing the number of accidents involving cyclists in the Houston area.