Due to the high risk of injury that bicyclists face if involved in an accident, it is critical to know the most common causes to protect yourself and others on the road.
Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and one hundred percent preventable. Drivers often run into bicycle riders due to activities such as texting or talking on the phone, using a navigational system, speaking to other passengers, reaching for items, changing the music, eating, etc. Even when drivers use a hands-free device, they are not focused completely on what is going on around them.
Failure to Yield
Many accidents occur when drivers and bicyclists fail to yield the right of way, and may not be fully aware of when they are supposed to. Collisions frequently happen at intersections when motorists fail to see or misjudge a bicyclist’s distance and turn left into their path.
When drivers travel at high speeds, their ability to react quickly and avoid bicyclists on the road is drastically reduced. A collision with a bicycle rider while speeding can be catastrophic or even fatal.
Alcohol consumption before getting behind the wheel leads to diminished cognitive abilities that increase the chances of a motorist not seeing a bicyclist.
Motorists sometimes refuse to share the road with bicyclists or give them the right-of-way. Some common types of aggressive behaviors are:
- Following a bicyclist too closely.
- Honking or flashing their lights.
- Yelling at or threatening the bicyclist.
- Dangerous passing.
- Accelerating to pass a rider then turning directly in front of them.
Bicyclists can easily cause an accident if they ride while distracted. Given how exposed they are while on a bike, with little safety gear to truly protect them, even the smallest of distractions can lead to a devastating accident. From headphones to cellphones, and even pretty scenery – riders can veer into oncoming traffic or fail to stay in the designated bicycle lane.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Despite a city’s duty to ensure all roadways and bicycle lanes are well maintained and free from hazards, many injury accidents are caused by dangerous road conditions. In these cases, bicyclists may be able to file a claim against the government entity responsible for maintaining the roads.
Riding at Night
Most fatal accidents involving a bicyclist occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Due to low visibility, drivers may not see bicycle riders on the road, especially if they don’t use reflective gear while riding.
How To Avoid a Bicycle Accident
Both bicyclists and drivers can reduce the risk of an accident with these few tips:
- Check equipment before riding.
- Know your signals and use them.
- Obey all traffic laws and signs.
- Wear bright and reflective clothing.
- Stay on the far right-hand side of the road except when making a left turn.
- Always stay alert to your surroundings and be predictable.
- Follow all traffic laws, including speed limits.
- Share the road with bicyclists as you would other drivers.
- Pay attention.
- Only drive when sober.
- Make eye contact with a bicyclist before proceeding through an intersection.
- Double-check for oncoming cyclists before making a left-hand turn.
- Check for riders before opening your driver-side door.