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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 840 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents in the United States in 2016. Bicycle accident related deaths account for 2.2% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities, and the number continues to increase.
The reckless or negligent behavior of drivers is usually the cause of cyclist deaths and injuries. Here is a detailed breakdown of the most common causes of bicycle accidents:
1. Driving While Distracted
One of the deadliest forms of bicycle accidents is a rear-end collision. A majority of these accidents could have been avoided if the driver of the vehicle had been paying attention to their surroundings. Cell-phone usage, such as texting or checking email, is one of the leading causes of distracted driving in the United States.
Car-bicycle accidents caused by distracted driving are most common at stop-signs and traffic lights. Rear-end collisions by a distracted driver resulted in 78% of cyclist fatalities in 2016.
Speeding is one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents. When a car is driving at too fast a speed, they may not be able to brake quickly enough to avoid hitting a cyclist. A cyclist hit by a speeding car will usually suffer from serious injuries, or the accident may even be fatal.
3. Riding too Close to a Lane of Cars
Drivers are required by most states’ traffic laws to give a bicyclist at least 3 ft. from the widest point of their car and the bike. This is because cyclists can easily get hit by side mirrors or unstabilized by the force of the car passing by.
Bicyclists should never assume that a driver will give them plenty of room, however. If possible, it is safer for a cyclist to ride on the sidewalk or in a bike lane.
4. Running into an Open Door
Accidents involving a cyclist running into an open car door happen quite often on college campuses and in cities. It is up to the driver and passenger of a vehicle to check before opening their car doors to avoid hitting an oncoming cyclist. If a cyclist is hit by a car door opening, the fault usually lies with the driver of the vehicle and not the cyclist.
5. Side Swiping
Side swiping happens most often in intersections or when a vehicle attempts to pass a cyclist. This type of collision will occur when the driver of a vehicle does not give the cyclist a wide enough berth or the driver fails to look out for the cyclist.
6. Inclement Weather
Weather is often unpredictable, and a sunny day can turn into a torrential downpour in a matter of minutes. A cyclist can easily get caught up in a storm on their way home from work or the store. When this happens, visibility is greatly reduced. In order to help increase a driver’s ability to see a cyclist on the road, it is best to wear reflective clothing or have a light or a mirror mounted onto their bike. These tools will help catch a driver’s attention and alert them to the cyclist’s presence when it’s dark or storming.
7. Drugs and Alcohol
It is the responsibility of both cyclists and drivers of motor vehicles to make sure they do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Not only do drugs and alcohol impair judgment, but they also slow down reflexes, making it harder to react to changing situations. Bicyclists have significantly less protection than a car does, meaning that a DUI accident will typically result in an injury or death. 35% of bicycle accidents where alcohol or drugs were involved result in fatalities.
8. Reckless Riding
Bicyclists have just as much responsibility to keep the roadways safe as a car driver does. This should be accomplished by practicing safe riding techniques, such as keeping oneself visible to other drivers. Riding recklessly or failing to follow traffic laws often lead to bicyclist accidents. These are the most common reckless riding behaviors that led to accidents in 2016:
- Sudden movements by the cyclist, such as swerving in front of a car
- Failure to make oneself visible to other drivers
- Running a stop sign or red light
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident and are seeking compensation for damages, contact the personal injury attorneys at Hernandez Law Group. Juan Hernandez is one of the 2% of attorneys who is Texas-board certified in personal injury law. We will help you claim the compensation you deserve and help you get on the road to recovery.