When a bicyclist is hit by a car, the potential for serious injury or even death is significant. Although cycling accounts for less than 1% of all trips in this country, bicycle deaths make up 2% of total traffic deaths. Factors such as driver inattention and poorly maintained roads can be deadly to even the most experienced bicyclist.
At O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley we represent people who have suffered serious injuries as a result of others negligence on California’s roads and highways. The injuries that can result from an accident involving a bicycle and a motor vehicle are often catastrophic; including, brain and spinal cord injuries; fractures; abrasions; and internal and soft tissue injuries.
The bicycle accident attorneys at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley work with medical professionals, vocational rehabilitation experts, and financial planners to determine all of the effects of serious injuries. We have the skill and experience to ensure that individuals and their families receive the financial support necessary to help them move forward with their lives. Contact us now for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.
Bicycle Accident Statistics
According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a significant number of car-bike collisions occur every year but go unreported. In the Bay Area, bicycle related injuries are on the rise, after a short decline from 2000 to 2003. Most bicycle accident injuries happen in cities with the largest populations, however college towns like Berkeley and Palo Alto both rank significantly higher for the number of bicyclists injured, than their populations would suggest. Many students, teachers and staff ride their bicycles to campus in these cities, increasing the chance of a bicycle related fatality than occurs in other Bay Area communities.
Furthermore, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 1975, only 32% of those killed in bicycle accidents were over the age 16 years. In 1999, 71% of bicycle deaths riders 16 years or older. Today most bicycle accidents involve adults in the intersection major roads at night.
The fact that nearly three-quarters of all bicycle accidents occur at intersections and driveways, suggests that neither cyclists nor drivers fully understand the traffic rules when it comes to turning and right-of-way situations in traffic. The Federal Highway Administration has suggested that both drivers and bicyclists should become better informed about these situations before they venture onto the road.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
- Reduced visibility
- Poorly maintained roads or bike paths
- Road debris
- Dog attacks
- Opening a car door into a passing cyclist when parked
- Not paying enough attention while driving
- Drinking and driving
- Refusing to share the road, forcing cyclists off the road or into a collision.
The best way for drivers to avoid accidents involving bike riders is to always be alert and vigilant behind the wheel. Be aware that cyclists are entitled to equal rights and have the same responsibilities as automobile drivers.
How can automobile drivers avoid accidents with bicyclists?
- Drive at a speed that is safe for conditions. Slow down on wet or icy roads as you will need more time to come to a stop.
- Be careful on two lane roads. A majority of accidents occur on these narrow roads where traffic is moving at a high speed.
- Two-thirds of bicycle accidents nationwide occur in the late afternoon and evening due to poor visibility. Be especially careful in early morning and evening hours when glare on your windshield can impair your vision. Keep your windshield clear of dirt and waste.
- Pull over to the side of the road, if you need to consult a map or talk on your cell phone, especially when cyclists are often present. Distracted driving is a significant cause of collisions involving bicyclists.
- Don't drink and drive.
- Always check your mirrors and proceed slowly when backing out of driveways and parking lots. Almost 75% of all bicycle accidents nationwide occur at intersections and driveways.
- Slow down when moving through an intersection, and always come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Watch for cyclists at other entrances to the intersection. Check your mirrors and blind spots for any cyclists behind or beside your vehicle when making turns.
- Don't assume that cyclists will give right-of-way.
How can bicyclists avoid accidents with automobiles?
- Keep in mind that not all drivers feel it is their duty to share the road with cyclists, and few drivers check their mirrors and blind spots as often as they should.
- Failure to yield, riding against traffic, stop sign violations, and safe movement violations are the most common mistakes that bicyclists make to cause an accident.
- Wear a helmet. Although this can not protect against an accident, it can protect you from serious injury or even death.
- Be visible. Wear reflective tape for night riding and equip your bike with a light.
- Never make a left hand turn from a designated bike path. Instead, merge into left hand lane of traffic and do not cut in front of other drivers, who may not be able to see you.
- Do not ride alongside cars when passing through an intersection. A driver may turn in front of you without warning.
- Always merge into normal traffic lanes from your bike lane as you approach an intersection.
- Pay attention when passing parked cars, as car passengers can open their doors suddenly.
- Keep both hands on your handlebars to maintain maximum control of your bicycle.
- Equip your bike with mirrors and check them frequently while riding.
- Know the hand signals and make them consistently before turning.
- Pay attention in the late afternoon and evening hours when the sun can cause visibility problems for drivers.
Because personal injury cases can be very complex, you need an experienced and aggressive attorney to successfully handle them. The bicycle injury attorneys at O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley have the necessary experience. With over 50 years of trial experience we are not afraid to take anyone to trial that has wrongfully injured one of our clients. Contact us now for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.
The attorneys at O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley are well known and respected throughout the legal community and among our clients. From our offices in Contra Costa County, San Francsico and Sacramento, we serve clients throughout Northern California. Our experience and expertise are available to you.