The Risks to Bicyclists When Sharing the Road with Drivers
Sadly, 846 people lost their lives in bicycle accidents in 2019, according to the latest data from the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA). Also, the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that in 2015 there were almost 467,000 bicycle-related injuries. Now that spring is in full force and summer is around the corner, more bicyclists will be taking to the road and riding alongside other motorists.
Even if you are avid and experienced bicyclists, there is 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?” Here’s a breakdown of the actions each party can take to mitigate the risk of being involved in a bicycle collision.
Both drivers and bicyclists have their share of responsibility when it comes to avoiding a collision. However, when a driver crashes into a bicyclist who has little to no protection except for a helmet and body pads, the driver faces a much larger responsibility when it comes to road safety. Here are some tips for drivers that can help avoid a severe bicycle crash.
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 bicycle can result in the rider sustaining catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and fractures. When on the road, obey speed limits and approach bicycle 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. First, bicycles are considered vehicles, and bicyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic and follow the same traffic rules that apply to drivers. However, bicyclists 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 problems for bicyclists is drivers making turns. When making a right turn, it’s critical to watch out for bicyclists who may be behind you and to the right of you. If they are 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 from 15 to 20 miles per hour.
Refrain From Distracted Driving Behaviors
Distracted driving is a bad habit and can be a recipe for a bicycle crash. When driving, it’s critical to refrain from the following behaviors:
- Texting and driving.
- Eating and drinking.
- Grooming (combing hair, applying makeup).
- Attending to other passengers.
- Changing the radio station.
- Plugging in directions to a navigation system.
Keep the Driver Attitude “In Check”
When sharing the road with bicyclists, it is vital to remain patient. Many drivers get annoyed with bicyclists and may get angry if they feel they are “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.
As a bicyclist, 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’s not going to prevent you from crashing with a vehicle. When it comes to a bicyclists responsibilities when out in traffic, here are some tips to keep in mind that can help prevent a crash:
- 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 you ride 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 to include routes with less traffic and lower speeds.
- When available, use bike lanes and paths.
What to Do After Being Hurt in a Bicycle Accident
Being involved in a bicycle crash and sustaining severe injuries can be a devastating and scary experience. When bicyclists share the road with motorists who are engaging in distracted driving behaviors, and a crash happens as a result, we are here to help victims hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligent actions. Our experienced attorneys are here to defend your rights. We’ll help you receive the compensation you deserve to ensure you and your family are not burdened by medical expenses and other financial setbacks that can come with life-threatening injuries.
Call Peterson & Associates, P.C. today at 816-888-8888 to speak with an attorney about your potential case. We are offering consultations via phone, email, and video conferencing for your convenience.