Warmer weather is upon us, and that means more bicyclists sharing the road with vehicles. The recent auto accident resulting in the tragic death of a triathlon athlete training for a competition is an unfortunate reminder of the dangers motor vehicles can pose to cyclists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of cyclist deaths has steadily risen since 2003, accounting for about 2% of all traffic fatalities in 2011. Cyclists also account for about 2% of people injured in car accidents.
The NHTSA has recommendations for both cyclists and drivers when sharing the road. The most important thing to remember is that bicycles are by law considered to be vehicles, and they have the same rights and responsibilities as automobiles. Here are a few other important safety tips:
- Wear a helmet: Louisiana law dictates that this is a requirement for children under 12, but it is a good idea for all cyclists, since it is the most effective way to prevent a head injury in the event of a crash.
- Follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicle operators: Ride in the same direction as traffic, use hand signals, and obey traffic signs and signals.
- Increase your visibility to drivers: Wear bright or reflective clothing. Make sure your bike has a reflectors or flashing lights.
- Share the road: Yield to cyclists and their signals as you would to an automobile. Also be courteous and allow at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist on the road.
- Be alert: Look for cyclists before opening a car door, pulling out of a parking space, or making a left or right turn.
- Avoid distracted driving: Of course, this is a good rule to always follow. Keep your eyes on the road all times. A split-second glance away to adjust your radio, look at a text, or make a phone call could mean the difference between life and death for a cyclist.
If you are cyclist and find yourself the victim of a bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle, we have experience handling these types of cases. Because both cyclists and drivers have responsibilities when sharing the road, it can sometimes be difficult to accurately assign fault in this type of accident. Our legal team is always here to evaluate your case and help you determine your rights. Call us at (504) 470-3935 for a free consultation.
Source: Traffic Safety Facts: 2011 Data. Washington, DC: NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, April 2013.