Hundreds of bicycle accident fatalities that happen every year are caused by careless motorists who refuse to obey rules of the road. Hundreds are killed, and thousands more are injured every year when drivers exhibiting negligence fail to consider other people on the road; more often than not, the bicyclists’ didn’t cause the accident.
Dangerous Drivers Cause Accidents
Where drivers of cars, trucks, vans, and sports utility vehicles are surrounded by multiple layers of protection, including metal car frames, plenty of cushioning, seat belts, and air bags in case of an accident, bicyclists have none of these, and therefore very little protection in case of an accident. In fact, cyclists have only their clothes and maybe a helmet to shield them from getting injured.
Bicyclists have rights just like drivers do, but many drivers fail to acknowledge other drivers’, much less bicyclists’ rights; their negligence can lead to and cause accidents, which can easily cause a great deal more damage to the bicycle and bicyclist than to the car and driver. Drivers’ attention is easily pulled away from what should be their primary focus (the road and other people on it) by cell phones, passengers, and even billboards. Furthermore, drivers frequently drive to fast for the road or the conditions; all of these elements can wreak havoc when the driver happens to hit a bicyclist.
Bicycle Accident Injury Statistics
Approximately every six seconds in the United States, a bicyclist is injured in an accident. While drivers are legally obligated to respect all other people (including bicyclists and pedestrians) on the road, not all do. With just a helmet to protect their head, bicyclists are no match for a vehicle, regardless of its size and weight. When a moving vehicle strikes a human body, it can cause a great deal of harm, including a wide variety of serious medical conditions.
Bicycling, whether as a way to have fun, get in shape, or commute to work or school, has recently grown in popularity, but did you know that bicyclists have many of the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles on the road? If you are a regular bicycle rider, there are a handful of safety precautions you should take each and every time you set out for a ride:
- Always wear a properly fitting helmet. Although you may be in a rush to get to work, start your workout, or meet a friend, making sure your helmet fits and is secured to your head is absolutely worth it. When you buy a helmet, make sure you get one that fits you comfortably, and has adjustable straps so that it won’t slide around or fall off your head if you should ever get hit. It could mean the difference between life and death.
- Ride a bicycle only if it is the right size for your height; riding a bike that is either too big or too small for you can make it harder to control, which can be a contributing factor in accidents.
- Wear protective and light, reflective clothing, especially between the hours of dusk and dawn. To make yourself more visible to vehicles on the road, make sure your bicycle has reflectors and fully functioning lights.
- Make sure your bike is in working order. Remember you can only use your brakes when they work.
- Avoid having an accident whenever possible. Be responsible. Practice cautious defensive driving (bicycling). Don’t assume that cars will stop at the stop sign or light for you, or give you enough room on the side of the road.
- Know the hand signals to use when you want to make a turn, and keep your hands on the handlebars unless you need to signal.
- If your bike is only intended for one rider, allow no more than that; don’t allow anyone to stand at the side of the spokes, or to sit on the handlebar, for example.
- Secure everything you’re wearing and transporting, making sure it is safely tucked away, including your pant legs and shoe strings, as they can easily get caught in the chain or spokes and cause an accident.
Drive Defensively to Avoid a Bicycle Accident
If you have a license to drive a car, you’re probably more than vaguely familiar with the concept of what it means to drive defensively; riding a bicycle isn’t much different in that aspect. You should keep your attention and focus on the road or path in front of you, rather than on your phone, for example. Your eyes should constantly scan all around you, watching for road hazards, other people on the road, and road signs and signals that might help you anticipate the road ahead. Only ride as fast as conditions allow: if the road is wet, icy, filled with potholes or other hazards, or if you’re riding around pedestrians, you should slow down considerably. Mostly, be aware of your surroundings.
As a bicycle rider, you should always ride in the bike lane, usually on the far right side of the road, with the flow of traffic. Like the vehicles around you, you are subject to and should obey all street signs and signals on your path; in other words, come to a full and complete stop at stop signs and lights, just like cars would. Driving defensively also entails assuming that other people on the road don’t see you, because they might not. Look ahead, and anticipate any hazards such as potholes, rocks, twigs, or grates on the road that may throw you off balance if you aren’t aware of them ahead of time. If you do have to swerve suddenly, make sure you don’t swerve into a car to the side of you; if you have time, you should always glance over your shoulder just to make sure you won’t hit someone else who is already there.
Holding Negligent Drivers Responsible
If you have been injured or a loved one was killed in a bicycle accident, you have the right and it is of the utmost importance to hold the driver responsible for their actions by filing a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries and losses. While many people may hesitate to get involved in the legal system for fear of the complex nature of legal documents and court proceedings, hiring an attorney to manage your case for you is an excellent solution to this otherwise very daunting, overwhelming task. An attorney who has had plenty of experience dealing with bicycle accident cases will be able to explain the process, answer all of your questions, and help you decide which course of action you would prefer, given your very specific needs and wants.
Call Today For Help With Your Bicycle Accident Case
If you are considering hiring an attorney for your bicycle accident injuries, call the experienced attorneys with Walton Telken toll free today at (844) 307-7349. They will listen to your story and provide you with information to help you decide which course of action you would most prefer, depending on the specifics of your case and your particular needs and wants. If you are unable, an attorney can schedule a time to come to meet with you, and they can also take cases on contingency, which means they won’t get any money unless and until you do, so you have nothing to lose. Call today.