Bicycle riders and drivers are both expected to share the road safely, but cyclists are at a significant disadvantage in the event of an accident.
Colliding with a larger and heavier vehicle, capable of three times the speed of a pedal-powered machine, often leaves bikers with catastrophic injuries or permanent disabilities.
Identifying the most common reasons these accidents occur can help cyclists avoid a crash before it happens, and help drivers realize the behaviors that put others at risk.
When Are Drivers Most Likely to Strike Bicyclists on the Road?
Thousands of cyclists suffer injuries in road accidents each year, and many lose their lives as a result of collisions with passenger cars. While cyclists may share liability in some of these crashes, driver error is overwhelmingly reported as a factor in car-bike crashes.
Driver negligence takes many forms, but the most frequent mistakes include:
- Distractions. Distracted driving is one of the most risky and irresponsible driver behaviors, and it's unfortunately prevalent on U.S. roads. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving is responsible for nine deaths and over 1,000 injuries across the nation every day.
- Speeding. Speeding is a common cause of all kinds of road accidents, including those involving cyclists. Bicyclists don't have the same speed and control capabilities as motor vehicles, giving them less time to anticipate and avoid an accident with an oncoming vehicle.
- Failure to learn road-sharing rules. Many drivers who are aware they have to share the road with cyclists know very little about bicycles, bicycle laws, and road-sharing regulations. For example, a motorist may not know how long it takes a cyclist to stop, how much room to leave on each side of the cyclist, or when the cyclist has the right-of-way.
- Driving while impaired. Drivers who are drunk or under the influence of drugs are more likely to cause bicycle accidents, particularly at night. Even driving drowsy places others at risk, as being overtired can cause the same vision, reaction time, or judgment problems as intoxication.
- Sudden or illegal maneuvers. A driver who misses a turn, brakes suddenly, or swerves across lanes without signaling, is more likely to collide with the vehicles around them. Drivers attempting U-turns or lane changes without checking their blind spots are giving bikers behind them little or no time to react. This can result in sending two-wheelers into the path of oncoming traffic or off the road at high speed.
- Failure to “see” cyclists. One of the most common defenses offered by drivers after a crash is they simply didn't “see” the cyclist. Motorists have a duty to scan their routes for all types of road users, including bicyclists. Cyclists can help do their part by wearing reflective clothing, equipping their bikes with headlights and reflectors, and staying as visible as possible.
- Road rage. Drivers may become frustrated by bikers traveling ahead and forcing them to drive more slowly. A driver who honks, speeds angrily away from the biker, or makes an unsafe attempt to pass him or her, may be found guilty of road rage, adding to his liability in an accident case.
- Leaving the scene. It's illegal for an at-fault driver to leave the scene of any kind of traffic accident, but hit-and-run crashes still occur with frightening regularity. These cases are doubly difficult for victims, since they are forced to seek compensation for their medical bills through their own health insurance provider unless the at-fault driver can be located.
If you were hit by a car while riding a bicycle, we can get you the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering—and we don't collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.