Bicycle riding is one of the most popular forms of recreational transportation and cost-effective solutions for commuting to work. Unfortunately, bicycle accidents are an all too common occurrence, especially in events where the cyclist is traveling at a high rate of speed. Some of the most serious injuries result in fatalities when the cyclist collides with motor vehicles. Even a minor bicycle-related injury can cause serious damage to the body, including brain trauma and spinal cord injury that can cause long-term disabilities.
Common Types of Cycling Accidents
According to statistics maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 7 out of every 10 collisions of motor vehicles with bicycles are the result of the vehicle driver’s negligence. In those cases, nearly one in five collisions between the vehicle and the bicycle were the result of the driver failing to remain actively aware of their surroundings. Other common types of bicycle accidents involve:
- The driver failing to see the bicyclist.
- The driver operating their vehicle too fast, recklessly or carelessly.
- The driver failing to adequately judge the speed or path of the cyclist.
- The driver overtaking the cyclist at a distance too close together.
- The motorist making a sudden lane change without signaling.
- The driver of the motor vehicle hitting the cyclist from behind.
- The driver turning into the pathway of the cyclist.
- The driver blocking bicycle lanes which causes the bike rider to swerve into the pathway of other cars.
- The driver failing to provide the cyclist the right away at an intersection.
- The driver dangerously merging into the pathway of the cyclist.
Other factors known to cause serious bicycle-related accidents include loose debris on the roadway, poor road conditions, large potholes or adverse weather conditions. The most dangerous kind of collision involving a cyclist occurs at intersections or inside roundabouts.
Many bicycle accidents involve:
- The Right Crossing where the vehicle pulls out, striking the bicyclist from the side.
- Car Dooring collisions where the driver or passenger unexpectedly opens the door of the vehicle as the cyclist is passing by.
- Crosswalk Accidents where the vehicle turns at an intersection without providing a safe right-of-way to the bicyclist.
- Wrong Way Accidents where the bicyclist rides against the flow of traffic.
- Red Light Accidents where a cyclist pulling up next to a stop vehicle at an intersection is hit by the motorist when making a right hand turn when the light is red.
Preventing Bicycle Accidents
Bicyclists can improve their chances of remaining safe while riding with the flow of traffic in the road or designated bypass. Specific actions can help prevent serious injuries and death. Some of these include:
- Always ride a bicycle that is designed as the appropriate size for the cyclist.
- Take proactive measures to increase the cyclist and bike’s visibility to other sharing the roadway, especially during nighttime hours by wearing bright reflective clothing.
- Always wear a federally approved helmet to minimize the potential of suffering a serious head injury and brain trauma.
- Avoid highly congested streets and highways.
- Always check the reflectors and brakes on the bike to ensure their proper working order before every trip.
- Respect the right-of-way of other motorists, truckers and pedestrians.
- Base the speed of the bicycle on traffic volume and road conditions.
- Avoid playing music while riding to ensure other cars, pedestrians and motorists can be heard.
- Make the bike and rider fully visible to other motorist by riding in the entire lane instead of along the side of the street.
- Take precautionary measures when passing a bus or truck that has a large blind spot.
- Always ride the bike defensively and assume no other drivers can see the bicycle.
It is imperative that the bicycle rider maintain complete awareness of their surroundings and remain focused on the road. In addition, it helps to make direct eye contact with truckers, drivers and pedestrians who could impact the pathway of the bicycle. In addition, the rider should always be ready to react quickly or exit the roadway if necessary. By acting assertively and claiming your portion of the roadway, you are likely to minimize the potential of being involved in an accident with injuries or death.