Biking on city streets with heavy traffic increases the chances of being involved in an accident. However, there are some safety tips that bikers can implement to keep themselves and others on the road as safe as possible.
The Rules of the Road
Cyclists must follow certain laws when biking on the road, just like drivers. Some of the rules of the road that bikers must conform to include:
- Biking in the same direction as traffic. Bicycles are legally considered road vehicles, so they must ride in the same direction as traffic, not towards oncoming traffic.
- Bikers must obey all traffic signs and stop at stop signs and red lights, just like cars.
- If a bike lane is marked and available, bikers should opt to use it instead of riding in the same lane as cars on the road.
- When riding with children, bikers need to use extra caution. Children must always wear their helmets, and young children need to be attached by a child carrier.
- Bikers should take note of what type of road they are on. In most areas, bikers cannot ride on the highway or interstate routes.
Using Appropriate Gear
The state of South Carolina requires all bicycles to have a front light that can be seen from 500 feet away. Bikes also need to have a red light or reflector in the back that can be seen from 300 feet away. In addition to what is required, bikers should consider the following safety measures when hitting the road:
- A bell or horn to alert other people on the road if necessary
- A quality, well-fitting helmet
- Brakes that work well enough to cause a skid mark if slammed
Practicing Safety Habits
It is important for all bikers to try their best to implement safety habits to keep the roads as safe as possible. Some examples of good habits bikers can implement to keep themselves safe include:
- Avoid using cellphones while biking. Cell phones and other technology can be a major distraction. Bikers should also avoid listening to music through headphones while biking.
- Keep to the right side of the road and travel in a straight line. Bikers may ride in the center of the appropriate lane when the lane is not wide enough for cars to pass them. What part of the road a biker rides in can have a big impact on their chances of getting into an accident.
- Ride predictably. All bikers should do their best to ride in a straight line, because it makes it easier for cars to pass them.
- Ride outside of the typical car blind spots so drivers can see them in their side and rear-view mirrors.
- Only biking while sober. Biking while intoxicated greatly impairs one’s ability to bike safely, just like driving.
- Wear reflective clothing or accessories while biking at night to ensure cars can see them well.
- Add a mirror to their bike to be able to see cars approaching or passing.
All bikers should know how to signal when making turns. Turn signals for bikers are done using the left arm, and the right hand should be kept on the bike while signaling. Signaling a left turn requires the biker to extend their left arm straight out to their side. Signaling a right turn requires the biker to extend their left arm straight out to their left side with their hand pointed straight up, forming the shape of the letter L.
Accidents Still Happen
Even the safest cyclists can still get into an accident due to a negligent driver or circumstances out of their control. In fact, South Carolina has some of the worst bicycle death rates in the United States. In 2015, 16 bikers died due to accidents involving cars.
What Causes Bike Accidents?
Drivers have a duty to give bikers an appropriate amount of room on the road and yield to them when needed. Bikers have similar obligations, and when either party fails to meet those duties, accidents can happen. Some common causes of accidents involving bicycles and cars include:
- Drivers failing to give bikers enough space on the road
- Drivers opening their car doors in the path of bikers
- Either bikers or drivers failing to stop at red lights or stop signs
- Distracted, aggressive, or drunk driving
Common Cyclist Injuries
When a car hits someone on a bike, the cyclists may endure serious injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Damage to internal organs
- Broken bones
It is important for both drivers and bikers to take safety seriously while on the road. Either party can endure life-altering injuries if an accident occurs, and many accidents involving cars and bikes are preventable.
When an accident involves a collision between a bike and a car, liability is usually placed on the driver because bikers have less protection. However, if a biker acts negligently, they can be held responsible for an accident as well. Each party owes a duty of care to the other, and liability ultimately depends on which party broke that duty. The following elements are what must be proven in these types of lawsuits:
- The defendant had a duty to keep the plaintiff safe
- That duty was breached
- The accident wouldn’t have happened if that breach did not happen
- The breach was directly responsible for the injuries sustained
- The accident resulted in damages
The circumstances surrounding each collision between a bike and a car are unique and will be taken into consideration when determining who was responsible.
We’re Here to Help
If you have been involved in a bicycle-on-car collision and need legal counsel, contact Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC today. With over 125 years of combined legal experience, our firm has the legal insight and persistence to pursue the compensation you deserve. We understand that life after an accident is stressful and emotional, which is why we work hard to bring negligent drivers to justice on behalf of our clients. Contact us today at (843) 968-0886 or through our online contact form.