Bicycling can be a fun and relaxing way to get around and a great way to get exercise. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous. For the year ending December 31, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported over 460,000 serious injuries and 1,000 deaths from bicycle accidents. Negligent behavior exhibited by drivers was the cause of many of these accidents. We discuss five of the most negligent actions below.
Texting and driving, operating the radio or temperature controls, eating, and diverting attention from the road ahead to look at other things are just some of the common causes of distracted driving. In the time it takes to engage in one of these activities, the driver could run into a bicyclist and seriously injure or kill him or her. The only solution to this growing problem is drivers making a commitment to distraction-free driving. Since you can’t predict what a driver will do, it’s best to operate your bike defensively just as you do behind the wheel.
When a driver is already traveling too fast for the road or for weather conditions, it can be difficult or impossible to avoid striking a bicyclist. The high rate of speed also makes it likely that the driver won’t even see the bicyclist until it’s too late. You should determine your own speed on a bike based on the terrain of the road, weather conditions, and the speed limit for vehicles if you must share the road with them.
Motorists Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Impaired driving can be the cause of a driver striking a person on a bicycle. Having too much alcohol, illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs in the body impairs a driver’s reaction time and causes him or her to exhibit poor judgment and impulse control. Anyone who strikes a bicyclist while driving under the influence is subject to the same civil and criminal penalties that he or she would incur after crashing into another vehicle and injuring or killing the occupants.
Failing to Check Blind Spots and Turning in Front of a Bicyclist
Drivers cannot rely only on their mirrors when looking to see if anything or anyone is directly in their path. They must physically look over their shoulder to check the blind spots that the vehicle’s mirrors won’t pick up. Failure to do so can result in disastrous consequences. Collisions between cars and bikes are common at intersections because the motorist didn’t expect a bicyclist to be there and failed to check blind spots before proceeding with the turn.
Running a red light, failing to yield, ignoring a stop sign, and not stopping to look both ways at the end of a driveway or parking lot before pulling out into the street are all common reasons for crashes between personal vehicles and bicycles. As a bicyclist, the law also requires you to follow traffic laws as well as signal your intent to turn by using hand signals.
How to Protect Yourself as a Bicycle Rider
While you can’t control the actions of other people, you can take steps to keep yourself safer while riding a bike. Some of these include:
- Always wear a helmet, even when you’re not moving. Even a seemingly minor fall from a bike can cause a traumatic brain injury.
- Ride with the flow of traffic if you need to share the road with vehicles. This is much safer as it prevents the possibility of a head-on collision.
- Stay as far to the right as possible.
- Don’t use headphones or other distractions while riding.
- Remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
Have You Been Injured by a Motorist in California?
Sometimes you do everything right as a bicyclist and still end up seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence. If you are struggling with medical expenses and don’t know when you can return to work due to your painful injuries, contact Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, for a free consultation. You can reach our office in El Cajon, California at 619-441-2500. We look forward to helping you obtain the financial compensation you deserve to get back on the road to recovery.