When the weather’s nice, there’s hardly anything that beats a good bike ride. But when you’re pulling out your bicycle for another season of riding, it’s important to keep in mind that bicycle accidents involving cars are a very real danger. These accidents are often quite deadly because of the lack of protection offered to cyclists.
To help both cyclists and motorists stay safe this season, we’ve put together a guide that covers what you need to know about bicycle accidents. We’ll look at how to avoid bicycle accidents as a cyclist and as a motorist, as well as what to do should you get into a bicycle accident involving a car.
How Do You Avoid Bicycle Accidents As a Cyclist?
Because bicycle accidents involving a car are so dangerous, the best thing to do is to avoid getting into one to the best of your ability. We’ll look at some of the important steps you can take to improve your safety when enjoying a bike ride.
Keep in mind, however, that following these won’t guarantee that you’ll stay out of an accident. But following them is a good way of ensuring your behavior is favorable should you need to take a driver to court for damages following an accident.
As a cyclist it’s important to:
- Observe Traffic Laws: This should be pretty obvious but many cyclists think they don’t need to observe those laws. However, if you want to win a lawsuit against a driver then you’ll need to be observing them. As an added bonus, they help to increase your safety.
- Be Aware of Your Situation: Avoid texting or chatting on your phone and consider even avoiding listening to music, or at least listening to earbuds. Anything that removes your attention from your cycling increases the chances that you miss something important and end up in an accident.
- Be Aware of Doors: Doors are the enemy of cyclists the world over. Drivers often forget to check their mirrors before opening and nothing feels worse than slamming into a car door at full speed. Except maybe hitting the ground afterwards.
- Watch Out for Right Turns: Sudden right turns are much more likely than sudden left hand turns because a driver will look to the left for an open and then start to turn before ever checking what was behind them. That’s why it’s also a good idea to…
- Keep a Safe Distance: Keeping a few feet back from cars can give you enough time to react when they do something suddenly. This space is often the distance between a good bike ride and one that lands you in the emergency room.
- Ride in Bike Lanes: Don’t ride on the sidewalks and don’t take up extra space in the driving lane if there is a bike lane. Always use the bike lane, but be wary of cars even when there is a bike lane to make use of.
- Make Yourself Seen: Make sure you can be seen. If you’re going out at night use a bike light and reflective gear. If you’re going out in a storm, wear light colors instead of dark ones. Most drivers aren’t gonna be looking for cyclists so make yourself seen.
- Practice: It’s a good idea to practice dodging pedestrians and stopping in case of emergencies. Hopefully you’ll never need to call upon your training but if you have to then you’ll be glad that you practiced it.
How Do You Avoid Bicycle Accidents as a Motorist?
As a driver, chances are you won’t suffer overly serious injuries from an accident with a bicycle. While injury and damage to your vehicle are certainly considerations to keep in mind, the odds are that you are more likely to cause serious injury to the cyclist. This could cost you a lot of money, should they look to take you to court, but it can also weigh heavily on your conscience.
That’s why it’s important to take steps to avoid getting into an accident. Steps like:
- Being Extremely Careful When Turning: Always check both sides of the vehicle to make sure you don’t suddenly cut off a cyclist or a pedestrian when you turn right.
- Looking Twice: Before you open your door, look twice. Make sure that you’re not about to take out a cyclist and lose your door in the process.
- Stay a Few Feet Back: If you’re following a cyclist then stay a few feet back if possible and give them a couple feet distance when you pass. This isn’t always possible but it’s a good practice to try to keep in mind when sharing the road with a cyclist.
What Should You Do If You’re In a Bicycle Accident?
If you are able to, call 911 and ask for police and EMS. If you need medical assistance, seek medical assistance as quickly as possible. If you are able to, get the contact information of witnesses. You don’t need to take down their version of events right now, so just get their contact information so you can get their recollections later down the road.
There are other important steps to take, such as getting a copy of the accident report, speaking with insurance companies, and all of the frustrating stuff that goes into dealing with an accident. But the important part is first getting medical attention.
Should I Talk to an Attorney If I’ve Been In an Accident?
If you were in a bicycle accident then you may want to speak to an attorney. Steps such as getting a copy of the accident report are mostly only important if you plan to take any legal actions relating to the accident.
However, you might not know if you want to make a lawsuit out of your accident or if you even have a case for a lawsuit. The best way to find out is to speak with an attorney and get their opinion. But don’t worry, this isn’t expensive. Most attorneys will offer a free consultation which will let you figure out whether or not it is worth the time pursuing your case.