Even if you’re an avid and experienced bicyclist, there’s still the risk of being involved in a bicycle accident. However, the big question is, “How can bicyclists and drivers do their part to ensure everyone is safe when sharing the road?” The knowledgeable car accident attorneys at Peterson & Associates, P.C. in Kansas City provide this breakdown of the actions each party can take to mitigate the risk of being involved in a bicycle collision.
The Risks to Bicyclists When Sharing the Road with Drivers
According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), “By law, bicycles on the roadway are vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles.” Unfortunately, bicycle riders don’t have the same steel frame protection as vehicle passengers, so the NHTSA also notes that:
- Bicyclist deaths are higher between June and September, mostly in urban areas.
- “Failing to yield the right of way is the highest factor in fatal bike crashes,” followed by bicyclists not being visible.
So it’s critical for everyone’s safety to know the importance of their roles.
Drivers, Understand the Vulnerabilities Bicyclists Face
A car’s weight can be two tons or more, depending on the type of vehicle, and bikes are a mere 20 pounds. Any collision between a car and a bicycle can result in the rider sustaining catastrophic injuries such as bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. When on the road, obey speed limits and approach riders with extreme caution.
Know the Traffic Laws and Rights Related to Bicyclists
Drivers may not fully understand the laws pertaining to bicyclists and their rights when sharing the road with motorists. Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic and follow the same traffic rules that apply to drivers. However, bicyclists also have the right-of-way. When approaching an intersection, look carefully and respect the bicyclist’s right-of-way.
Beware of Your Surroundings When Making Turns
One of the biggest hazards for bicyclists is when motorists make turns. When making a right turn, it’s critical to watch out for a rider who may be behind you or to the right of you. If they’re planning to keep riding straight ahead while you turn in front of them, they could crash into your vehicle. When making left turns, look for oncoming bicyclists so you can assess if you have enough time to complete the turn. You may not realize it, but many bicyclists ride at a fast pace and can come at you at up to 20 mph.
Refrain From Distracted Driving Behaviors
Distracted driving is potentially dangerous behavior, as your visual, manual, and cognitive driving abilities are compromised. So while behind the wheel, refrain from:
- Grooming (combing hair, applying makeup, etc….)
- Attending to other passengers
- Changing your music or audiobook player
- Plugging directions into a navigation system
Keep Driver Attitude “In Check”
When sharing the road with bicyclists, remain patient. Many drivers get annoyed with them and may get angry if they feel they’re “getting in the way” of making a quick turn or missing a green light. Remember, bicyclists have the right to be on the road just as much as drivers do. Practicing patience can keep everyone safe.
Bicyclists, Here Are Your Responsibilities When Sharing the Road
Being prepared before going out for a ride is critical. While wearing a helmet and other safety gear is a non-negotiable safety measure when out riding and may protect you in the event of a crash, it won’t prevent you from colliding with a vehicle. So here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
- Wear bright-colored and reflective clothing for both day and evening rides.
- Ride a bike that fits you (a bike too big or too small may not be easy to control).
- Ensure the bike is well-maintained and in a safe condition.
- Keep all items you must carry in a backpack or appropriately strapped to the back of the bike.
- Plan your bike route for less traffic and lower speeds.
- When available, use bike lanes and paths.
Whether you’re the driver or the rider, you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Having a skilled personal injury attorney on your side makes all the difference.