Bicycle accidents on public roads can result from a variety of different factors, many of which are driver-related. Some of the most common causes include unsafe lane changes, turning without looking for cyclists, driving too close to bike lanes and shoulders, and using cell phones behind the wheel.
Whether you ride your bike on your daily commute, you ride for exercise, or you are a serious cyclist, the reality is that you face risks every time you hit the road. Even though bicycle riders are entitled to the same rights and privileges as drivers, it is no secret that many drivers treat cyclists as second-class citizens. From riding on cyclists’ back wheels to passing with virtually no room to spare, drivers routinely put cyclists in dangerous situations, and drivers who aren’t paying attention can cause accidents before they even realize that cyclists are on the road.
For injured bicycle riders, seeking financial compensation can be an important part of the recovery process. Traumatic injuries from bicycle accidents can be extraordinarily expensive, and they can also lead to chronic pain, limited mobility, and other forms of non-financial loss. However, in order to seek compensation, you first need to determine the cause of the accident, and this means hiring a personal injury attorney to conduct an investigation as soon as possible.
10 Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles
Why do you need to know the specific cause? In order to hold the driver accountable (typically by filing a claim with his or her insurance company), you need to be able to prove that he or she was negligent in causing the collision. Since the fact that you were hit does not necessarily mean that the driver was to blame (although this is typically the case), in order to file a successful claim, you need to be able to affirmatively demonstrate that the driver is responsible for your losses.
So, how can you prove that the driver who hit you was negligent? Some of the most-common causes of bicycle accidents include:
1. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a leading cause of all types of vehicle collisions, including those involving bicycles. When drivers are paying attention to their phones instead of their surroundings, they are significantly more likely to cause dangerous collisions. Common forms of distraction include reading and responding to text messages, dialing phone numbers, talking on the phone, and using social media.
2. Failing to Leave an Adequate Buffer
Drivers who follow cyclists too closely and who pass within less than three feet of a cyclist unnecessarily create extremely dangerous situations. Not only are these drivers more likely to hit cyclists, but they are also leaving cyclists (and themselves) with far fewer options to avoid collisions and other accidents.
Speeding increases drivers’ stopping time while limiting the amount of time they have to make decisions on the road. Although high-speed accidents are more likely to result in severe (or even life-threatening) injuries, even accidents at relatively low speeds (e.g., if a driver is speeding in a residential neighborhood) can be extremely dangerous for cyclists.
4. Weaving Through Traffic
Drivers who are weaving through traffic are less likely to see cyclists who are sharing the road. They are also less likely to be able to make evasive maneuvers in order to avoid collisions. Weaving drivers also often drift outside of traffic lanes and onto bike lanes and shoulders.
5. Unsafe Lane Changes
Even if a driver is not weaving, making a single unsafe lane change can still be extremely dangerous. Bicycle accidents involving unsafe lane changes typically result from drivers merging into cyclists’ lanes without first looking to ensure that the lane is clear.
6. Turning without Looking
At many intersections, drivers will have a green light to turn while still having an obligation to check for cyclists and pedestrians. Turning without checking for bicyclists is a frequent (and completely avoidable) cause of bicycle accidents at intersections.
7. Running a Red Light or Stop Sign
Running red lights and stop signs is a common cause of intersection accidents as well. This is true in neighborhoods and suburban areas as well as in city centers and other urban locations. While running a traffic sign or signal is dangerous in itself, the risks are magnified when drivers fail to look for cyclists who have the right of way.
8. Failure to Yield
Failure to yield is yet another form of careless or reckless driving that poses severe risks for bicycle riders. From roundabouts to intersections with merging lanes, there are various locations at which vehicle drivers have an obligation to yield to oncoming traffic – including bicycle traffic.
9. Impaired Driving
Individuals who make the decision to drink or get high and then get behind the wheel are dangers to themselves and everyone else on the road. Alcohol and drug impairment significantly reduce drivers’ ability to make smart decisions and avoid causing accidents, and far too many collisions involving cyclists are the result of driving while impaired.
10. Driver Fatigue
Although the risks of driving while fatigued are not as well known as the risks of driving while impaired, studies have shown that they are similar in terms of their severity. Drivers who are out early, out late, or trying to get home after a long day at work can be at a significantly increased risk for causing serious collisions.
Regardless of what happened, if you were seriously injured in a bicycle accident involving a car, truck, van, or SUV, it is important that you speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys in Clarksville or Springfield, call us or contact us online now.
Schedule a Free Bicycle Accident Consultation at Batson Nolan PLC
For more information about your legal rights and the financial compensation you may be entitled to recover after a bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle, call us or request a free consultation online. We will arrange for you to speak with one of our attorneys in confidence as soon as possible.