Bicycle Accidents & Drivers on the Road - Who is at Fault?
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association, about 750 cyclists lost their lives in accidents involving motorists while another 48,000 were injured. While likely not the largest portion of a cyclist’s journey, intersections represent the highest percentage rate for bicycle-related car accidents.
Common Causes for Bicycle Accidents
- Drivers underestimate the speed of the cyclist
- Drivers do not expect bikes on the road, so they may not be looking for them.
- Drivers cannot see cyclists ( too small, or non-reflective material)
Bike Laws of the Road
Generally, cyclists who are not riding as fast as current traffic are required to stay to the far right of the lanes or if available use the bike lane. Cyclists are permitted to leave the side of the road few a few reasons: 1) if they are able to keep up with traffic 2) if the lane is too narrow to safely share with passing cars 3) if they need to make a left turn or 4) the rider is required to avoid debris or other road hazards.
Safe Passing Space - If you are a motorist, you are required by law to share the lane with cyclists and provide safe space while passing. If a motorist is not able to provide a safe amount of space while passing the cyclist, they may be required to slow down behind the cyclist and wait until they are in an area that can provide a safe passing distance. Some insurance adjusters may try to insinuate you were not over far enough to the right if you were involved in an accident where a car knocked you off your bike, don’t fall for this tactic. As mentioned above, you have just as much right to the road as a motorist. The driver of the vehicle is required to practice a reasonable duty of care when passing you. If you are having trouble with an insurance adjuster, you should contact a qualified Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney.
Right-Turn Right of Way – Many cyclist accidents occur as a result of the motorist failing to see the bicyclist as they turn right. Regardless of whether or not the cyclist is in the bicycle lane or the side of the road, the motorist is at fault for this type of incident. Drivers are required to make sure it is safe to turn right prior to turning. If the driver did not see the cyclist and made their turn, they have failed to verify it is safe and is therefore at fault.
The Left Cross – Another common cause of bicycle accidents is the left cross. This incident occurs when a motorist and a bicycle approach an intersection with an unprotected left-hand turn. The bicyclist is cycling through the intersection on a green light while the motorist turns left and crashes into the cyclist. Motorists sometimes fail to see the cyclist because they are looking for oncoming vehicles, not bikes. A good way to prevent this incident is to ride a little more to the left than usual which should indicate you plan on taking the right of way and give the motorist a better chance of seeing you.
Best Ways to Avoid Accidents
The two best ways cyclists can help prevent accidents:
- Maximize Visibility – When riding, make sure you are clearly visible to drivers. User reflectors or blinking LED lights on your bicycle to ensure motorists can see you.
- Stay Alert – Even if you have the right of way, stay extra alert with approaching an intersection and prepare for evasive maneuvers if necessary.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were injured in a road accident due to the negligence of a motorist, you are likely suffering from moderate to severe life-altering injuries. At Rosenberg & Rosenberg, P.A., we understand unexpected medical bills can cause financial hardship for anyone which is why we provide free initial consultations. Find out if you qualify to receive compensation for your medical bills, loss of wages, and pain and suffering today.
Let us help you! – Call to schedule your free consultation.