Bicycle accident-related deaths account for 2.3% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities, and the number continues to increase. In 2019 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 846 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents in the United States.
In the state of Texas, the year 2020 saw 44 bicyclists lose their life due to an accident with a motorized vehicle. 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. Distracted Driving
One of the deadliest forms of bicycle accidents is rear-end collisions. 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/social media, is one of the leading causes of distracted driving in the United States.
Bicycle accidents where a car hits a cyclist due to distracted driving most commonly occur 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 someone is driving too far over the posted speed limit, 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; the accident may even be fatal.
3. Riding Too Close to a Lane of Cars
Drivers are required by Texas State Law to treat bicycles as if they were another vehicle and give them at least a car length to maneuver. When approaching a cyclist to pass them, they have to leave at least 3 ft. from the widest point of their car and the bike. Failure to follow these laws can result in a cyclist getting hit by side mirrors or becoming unstabilized by the force of the car passing by.
Cyclists, however, should never assume that a driver will give them plenty of room. If possible, it is safer for a bicyclist to use the sidewalk or a bike lane. If neither is available, they need to stay as far-right and as close to the curb or edge of the roadway as possible.
4. Running Into an Open Door
Accidents involving a cyclist running into an open 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 when the driver fails to look out for the cyclist completely.
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. 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 operate their machines 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 those in a car, meaning that a DUI accident will typically result in injury or death for the cyclist. Thirty-five bicycle accidents where alcohol or drugs were involved resulted in a fatality.
8. Reckless Riding
Bicyclists have just as much responsibility to keep the roadways safe as car drivers do. 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 leads to bicyclist accidents. These are the most common reckless riding behaviors that led to accidents in 2019:
- 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
What Are Common Injuries From Bicycle Accidents?
Bicycle accidents often result in horrific injuries due to the mere fact that bicycles offer a lot less protection to cyclists than a car does to a driver. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the following injuries are the most common during a bicycle accident:
- Leg, knee, or foot fractures
- Abrasions, cuts, and bruises
- Spinal cord injuries
- Concussions or other head injuries
- Wrongful death
- Facial or dental injuries
What Should I Do After a Bicycle Accident?
Knowing how to respond after an accident is essential to ensuring that you not only receive the proper care but also that you can build a strong personal injury case to receive the compensation you deserve. Here are the steps you should take after an accident:
- Check to see if you or anyone else is injured: If you or someone else were injured in the accident, it is important that you contact emergency services immediately.
- Take pictures: If you are able, take pictures of the scene of the accident from as many angles and distances as possible. (Remember, never put yourself in harm’s way to get a photo.)
- Exchange information with the other party/parties involved in the accident: This information should include name, license plate number, insurance information, and contact information.
- Gather witness information: If there were witnesses to the accident, make sure you get their names and contact information. This will help you later in your case by helping to establish a full picture as to what happened.
- Seek medical attention: Even if you think you were unharmed in the accident it is important to get checked over by a health professional. Sometimes, some injuries may not be readily apparent due to the rush of adrenaline from the accident. Seeking medical attention will ensure that any unknown injuries are taken care of properly and create a paper trail of the injuries sustained due to the accident.
- Collect and keep any documentation: You will want to keep a record of the following in a safe place:
- Police reports
- Medical documents
- Bills from the medical treatments or repairs for the damages caused by the accident
- Pictures of the accidents and injuries
- Witness statements
Contact a Trusted Personal Injury Attorney
Juan Hernandez is one of the 2% of attorneys who is Texas-board certified in personal injury law, so 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 the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. We will help you claim the compensation you deserve and get on the road to recovery.