Collisions with motorists are one of the most common causes of bicycle accidents, often resulting in severe injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most bike accidents occur due to falls or collisions with cars. In 2017 alone, 738 cyclists died from accidents involving motorists according to the NHTSA. Understanding the most common causes of bicycle accidents can help us determine if road safety precautions adequately protect cyclists while on the roads.
In Florida and other states, bicycle regulations state that cyclists may share the road with cars, with the expectation of respect and safe treatment on the road. However, cyclists remain at a natural disadvantage to cars on the road, simply due to the size, weight, and lack of protection that a bicycle offers. Hence, they have a heightened risk of dangerous accidents with cars. When bicycle accidents happen, they may result in more fatal injuries than a car crash under similar circumstances.
Car and Bicycle Share-the-Lane Laws
When you see a cyclist on the road, you must treat them with the same safety precautions and respect that you would any other vehicle. In Florida and many other states, the law permits bicyclists to take up the entire width of one lane, but the laws require the bicyclist to keep up with the flow of traffic.
Sometimes, roads do not contain designated bicycle lanes. In this case, cyclists only have the option of staying as far to the right of the lane as possible, with the expectation that any cars passing will need to give three feet of space for the cyclist to maintain a safe distance from the car.
Cyclists must take extra precautions to increase visibility on the road, including the use of reflectors and lights that drivers can see from a distance or after sunset. While states do not license bicyclists, they do impose age and weight requirements for riding a bicycle on the road. Passengers four years old and younger or those weighing under 40 pounds must ride in a safety seat with the parent as the main cyclist. Helmet laws vary by state, but in Florida, anyone 16 and older may ride on public roadways without a helmet.
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Bicycle Accident Injury Risks
When a cyclist gets into an accident, a variety of reasons may have played a part. Cyclists may contribute to their accidents in a variety of ways, including:
- Neglecting to wear a helmet.
- Riding at high speeds.
- Losing control of the bicycle.
- Navigating roadways with little to no experience.
- Riding under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances.
- Engaging in competitive riding.
- Riding during the summer.
- Riding a bike with a mechanical failure.
- Riding despite environmental hazards like objects in the road, loose gravel, or poor road maintenance.
- Riding despite the lack of bike path or lack of maintenance on a bike path.
Cyclists and car drivers should practice safety to help prevent accidents.
Types of Bicycle Injuries
Your accident injuries could include acute trauma and severe trauma in different parts of the body, including your:
- Musculoskeletal system.
- Skin and soft tissue.
Taking safety precautions before riding your bicycle may help reduce your risk of an accident.
Insurance and Bike Accidents
Before getting on the road, cyclists may not consider a need for insurance coverage. In some cases, if a driver proves at-fault, the cyclist receives coverage from the driver’s uninsured driver policy. A cyclist injured in an accident may otherwise receive coverage from a personal health insurance policy.
If the trend of increasing bicycle accidents continues, future legislation could include requirements for cyclists on the road to carry official insurance policies. Until then, cyclists and motorists must remain vigilant on the road and assume responsibility for safe roadway cycling.
Consider Legal Representation for Your Bicycle Accident Case
When bicycle accidents happen, you might have a right to compensation for your injuries. A lawyer may assist you through the litigation process with insurance companies, and if required, a civil court case.
At Ben Crump Law, PLLC, our lawyers advocate for injured bicyclists. We work on a contingency-fee-basis, so we never collect payment unless we secure financial recovery on your behalf. Call us at 800-761-5225 for a free consultation, so we can begin talking about your legal options in the event of a bicycle accident.