Not everyone is educated about the rules of the road, especially when it comes to bicycles. Becoming educated about traffic accidents involving cyclists allows you to avoid them and better understand whether the car or bike would be at fault in certain types of collisions.
Where Are Bicyclists Most At Risk?
59% of bicycle accidents are caused by the cyclist losing control and do not involve other vehicles. But of the 11% of accidents that do involve a car, 45% occur at an intersection. There are steps that both drivers and bike riders can take to prepare for and avoid these intersection accidents.
How to Avoid Bicycle Traffic Accidents
In order to avoid intersection collisions, bicyclists can take a few precautions.
- Increase visibility. Cyclists can increase visibility of their bikes by installing front and rear lamps. They can also increase visibility of themselves by wearing reflective or brightly colored clothing.
- Be aware. Looking out for other vehicles is required by law. Always be aware of your surroundings and assess the situation at each intersection.
- Ride defensively. Along with being aware of your surroundings, cyclists should always be riding defensively.
- Practice emergency maneuvers. It’s a good idea to become familiar with emergency maneuvers used to avoid traffic accidents. The League of American Bicyclists recommends knowing how to confidently perform “hazard avoidance maneuvers” such as: a Quick Stop, a Rock Dodge, the Avoidance Weave, and the Instant Turn.
Drivers can also follow similar precautions to evade a traffic accident.
- Be aware. While bicyclists will often be on the lookout for cars, drivers may not think to look for bike riders. Be aware of your surroundings, especially at intersections.
- Avoid distracted driving. In order to be aware of your surroundings, you need to make sure you are not distracted. Avoid texting, reading, watching videos, eating, and drinking while driving.
Determining Fault in a Bicycle Traffic Accident
In almost every state, bicycles are considered vehicles and must follow the rules of the road accordingly. As in most vehicle accidents, fault and liability are often determined by who has the right-of-way.
If there is no traffic signal, the vehicle to arrive at the intersection first has the right-of-way. If two vehicles arrive simultaneously, the car positioned to the right has the right-of-way.
If there is a traffic signal, then the right-of-way is determined by the signal. At times the signal sensor may not detect a bicycle, and in that case the cyclist must either wait until the intersection is clear and cross when it is safe or use the crosswalk.
However, right-of-way is the most basic way to determine fault and there are many other factors that can affect liability. Some common intersection accidents include:
- Stop sign collisions where the cyclist does not yield at a two-way stop.
- Left turn collisions where the vehicle turns left into a cyclist that they often times do not see.
- Right turn collisions where a vehicle either cuts off a bike they had passed or turn right on a red light without looking for cyclists.
Ride a Bike on the Road? You Need Insurance!
Being aware of how traffic accidents happen is important to protect the safety of motorists and bike riders alike. But it is also important because if a cyclist is found at fault for an accident, they will be held liable for any car accident injuries or damages resulting from the collision. Likewise, if the cyclist is injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, they may not be able to recover damages or payment for medical bills. If you are an avid cyclist, be sure to discuss this with your insurance agent to make sure you would be covered in the event of an accident.