As more Americans choose to ride bikes to stay healthy and fit, or as an alternative to driving a vehicle, accidents between motor vehicles and cyclists continue to increase. Loved ones and friends alike turn to a wrongful death law firm as vehicles continue to kill cyclists each year.
According to a study from 2018, a record number of bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle related crashes and that will likely increase as time goes on. Drivers need to be aware of important rules about sharing the road with cyclists. So, consider the following.
Bicyclists, Although Different, are Equal
Under the law, bicyclists are considered operators of vehicles and are equally entitled to use the road. Because of this, they must also follow the law and be treated by you as any other slow-moving vehicle. Don’t allow yourself to be caught off guard by cyclists, expect them, and be alert at all times.
Although a biker in your path may slow you down, being patient with cyclists can save you from getting into an accident and prevent serious injury or even death. Always wait until it’s safe to pass and give bikers the right of way when situations call for it. Be aware that cyclists have a legal right to avoid potential dangers in their path, so always be aware of road conditions.
Pass Slowly and Safely
Always wait to pass a cyclist until you’re not putting anyone at risk and maintain a distance of at least 3 feet between you and their bike whenever possible. Slowing down whenever you see a bicyclist within your view is also a good rule of thumb. In the case that you accidentally hit a biker, the rate of impact can drastically affect the amount of injury caused.
Never Drive Your Vehicle in the Bike Lane
Bike lanes are designated areas of a road for cyclists to ride freely and safely without worry of colliding with a motor vehicle. Because these lanes are strictly for bicyclist use, never drive on, pull into, or park in a bike lane. You could cause a biker to have to make tricky and dangerous maneuvers in order to avoid running into your car.
Be Careful Making Turns
Whether you’re making a right hand or left-hand turn, use extra caution. You should never speed up to try to beat a biker to a turn because they’re traveling faster than you think and you could cause an accident. When you’re making left-hand turns, be alert for cyclists that are crossing straight in the opposite direction and are approaching faster than you think.
Be Extra Cautious When Backing Up
Instances of motor vehicles hitting bicyclists are more common than you think. Small children on bikes are particularly vulnerable to these accidents, as well. Always take special care to look for bikers when backing out of a driveway, alley, or parking spot. Cyclists can come out of nowhere, so always back out slowly and look multiple times as you are backing up to avoid an accident.
It’s never a good idea to startle someone on a bicycle when they’re in the middle of traffic. Doing so could cause a dangerous situation if the biker should lose control. If there is a situation where you must use your horn, always do it from a respectful distance and make it a quick tap.