The battle lines are drawn. As more communities improve conditions and infrastructure for cyclists, an increasing number of bikers are taking to the road. This is often to the chagrin of motorists, who blame cyclists for failing to obey laws, riding carelessly, and causing accidents. A growing number of studies, however, show that motorists bear the majority of blame in accidents involving cyclists.
Studies throughout the world are analyzing the blame when cyclists and motorists collide. A study by Adelaide University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research indicates that motorists are to blame in four out of every five motorist/bicycle accidents. Researchers found that the majority of incidents occur when motorists turn into the path of bicyclists at intersections. And, due to their lack of exterior protection, cyclists face the brunt of injuries. The study reported that nearly a third of cyclists are rendered unconscious and many face fractures and soft-tissue injuries.
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A study in London, performed by the Westminster Council, found that drivers were to blame in roughly two-thirds of the motorist/bicycle collisions that occur throughout the city. They cited numerous reasons for accidents, including:
- Drivers failing to look about and be aware of cyclists on the road
- Reckless driving on behalf of the motorist
- Drivers inability to judge the speed or path of the cyclist
- Drivers proceeding too close to the cyclist
The study further indicates that cyclists were solely responsible in only about twenty percent of the accidents.
Emphasis has been placed on cyclists obeying traffic laws, adhering to safe cycling areas, and maintaining an awareness of motorists around them. It seems, however, that the impetus for change needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of drivers.
Motorists should take note of the following precautions:
- Drivers should exercise extra caution and be aware of the presence of cyclists, especially when making turns and approaching intersections.
- Biking lanes are not for parking- not even for a few minutes. Doing so means that cyclists have to swerve into traffic.
- Most states have a boundary of approximately three feet around cyclists. That means that drivers must stay at least three feet away at all times. Do not encroach upon a cyclist.
- Do not assume that the guy in front of you on his bike can hear you coming. Cars are quieter than ever, and road noises blend together.
- Remember that just a slight graze is all it takes to cause a potentially deadly accident. There are few fender-benders in the biking world!
Our bicycle injury attorneys believe that we can share the roadways safely by adhering to these rules, and ask that both motorists and cyclists exercise patience and caution. And if you ARE involved in an accident, call upon the experienced team of cyclists and attorneys at Kass & Moses for help!