How Dangerous Conduct by a Bicyclist Can Lead to Accidents
You may have heard some bicyclists arguing that the rules of the road only apply to cars, and not to bicyclists; however, this belief can end up causing potentially serious or fatal accidents. Most bicycle accidents happen in cities with large populations, most especially in cities with colleges.
Many students, faculty and staff of colleges tend to use bicycles more for transportation to and from the college, which creates an increased likelihood of accidents involving bicycles. Nearly three-fourths of all bicycle accidents occur at intersections or driveways, suggesting that many bicyclists are not fully cognizant of the rules of the road. Better education for cyclists could greatly reduce the number of automobile-bicycle accidents.
What Can Auto Drivers Do to Avoid Accidents With Cyclists?
Of course drivers should be alert and vigilant at all times, and should know that bicyclists are entitled to the same rights as auto drivers. Automobile drivers should always drive at speeds which are safe for the conditions, giving themselves extra stopping room in areas where cyclists are common. Two lane roads require additional caution, as nearly 60% of all accidents involving cyclists occur on these narrow lanes. Almost 70% of cycling accidents occur during the early morning or early evening hours when glare is a factor, so make sure your windshield is clear of dirt. Avoid distractions, and check your side and rearview mirrors carefully when backing out of your driveway or a parking lot—cyclists can be difficult to see, and may not be watching for you either.
When the Cyclist is at Fault
Because of the sheer size and speed of an automobile as compared to a bicycle, we don’t want to believe that an accident could actually be the fault of the cyclist; however, sometimes bicycle riders fail to engage in safe, road-wise behavior leading to accidents, injuries and death. Many cyclists are notorious for sliding stops through stop signs and stop lights; since it takes effort to come to a complete stop, they may simply glance both ways and ride on through. Cyclists are also often seen to pass a line of stopped cars on the right. Though this can be tempting, the risk created is significant. When the cyclist has reached the intersection, the front car could make an unexpected right turn while they are passing, hitting the cyclist full on. Cyclists are just as bound as drivers to pay attention to turn signals, and to make sure it’s safe to pass a car before attempting it.
Unsafe Speeds and Poor Maintenance from Cyclists
We’ve all seen a cyclist reaching maximum cruising speed while going down a hill or even on a long, straight road, and it looks as though it is both exhilarating and exciting. Cyclists should always attempt to maintain control of the bicycle and ensure they would be able to come to a controlled stop in the event of an emergency. Cyclists also need to consider roadway hazards which could conceivably cause loss of control when determining their speed. Speed limits are applicable to bicycles as well as cars, but more to the point, use your common sense when you are riding among larger, heavier vehicles. Just as car owners have the responsibility to keep their vehicles in good working condition, so do cyclists. Brake pads should be checked to ensure they are not overly worn, handlebars and wheels should always be tightly secured, and the chain should be checked regularly. You should always wear a helmet, and should equip your bicycle with mirrors and lights to give you a better chance of seeing and being seen.
Finally, do your best to avoid busy streets; while you do have the right to the road, there is little consolation in that fact if you’re badly injured. In most cities you will be able to often travel through neighborhoods to get to most places you need to go rather than the busier roadways. Make sure you always signal your turns, and skip listening to the iPod in a busy part of the city, as this can be a distraction. If you’ve been involved in an auto-bicycle accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine whether you have any recourse for recovering damages. Even if you are partially at fault you may still be entitled to compensation.
At the Atlanta accident law firm of Montlick and Associates, we are familiar with the types of defenses used by insurance companies in auto accident cases and diligently seek the compensation our clients are entitled to receive.
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