Warm weather is here again, and that means shorts, long summer days, and staying outside as long as possible. Unfortunately, it also brings an increase in avoidable accidents as riders dust off their bicycles and take to the roads. In order to keep children and commuters safe while on their bikes, we offer some facts on bike crashes, as well as must-have tips to help avoid an accident.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Car-Bicycle Accidents?
Cars and bicycles are most likely to collide in places where vehicles cross paths, especially intersections. Even when drivers stop properly at stop signs, they may accelerate without checking crosswalks and roadways for bikers, crashing into a cyclist who has the right-of-way. Here are the most common factors that lead to car-bicycle collisions:
- Cars turning left. Left turns are one of the most dangerous maneuvers a driver can make. A driver may build up considerable speed through the intersection before striking the biker, increasing the odds of severe injuries.
- Driveway accidents. Driveways see many different types of car-bike collisions, including bikes t-boning into cars pulled out too far into traffic, cars striking bicyclists due to an obstructed driveway, bicyclists making an improper turn into a driveway (such as speeding down a hill and entering at a wrong angle, and backover accidents of small children biking on sidewalks as drivers back out.
- Right-turn crashes. Both bikers and drivers may cause an accident when turning right at an intersection. A car may pass a cyclist as they ride into the intersection, and the cyclist is cut off as the car turns right in front of the bike. Bicyclists may also fail to signal while waiting at a stop light, continuing forward into the path of neighboring cars when the light turns green.
What Can Bicyclists Do to Stay Safe on the Roads?
Although cars are more likely to be at fault for a car-bike crash, bikers are more likely than drivers to suffer broken bones, brain injuries, facial lacerations, spinal cord injuries, and even death after an accident. For this reason, it is up to the bicyclists to keep themselves safe by:
- Wearing a helmet. Bike helmets save thousands of lives every year, and can stop your accident from becoming a tragedy. Wear your helmet on every ride!
- Checking their equipment. Just as drivers have a responsibility to make sure their lights, tires, and brakes are in good working order, bicyclists have a duty to inspect their bikes before each ride. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, brakes are working, and that your seat and handlebars are adjusted to the right height.
- Staying visible. No matter what time of day you ride, you should always wear brightly-colored clothing to increase your visibility. Reflective clothing and flashers on your wheels can help drivers see you from hundreds of feet away, alerting them to your presence and speed.
- Riding straight and in control. Always ride with both hands on the handlebars, and stow phones, books, and other items in a backpack or secure bike carrier. Ride in a straight line and avoid weaving between cars or other obstacles. When you need to turn, signal your intentions and watch for cars pulling out or open doors on parked vehicles.
- Staying alert. Distracted riding is becoming more and more of a danger as bikers tune in to their music players rather than the road ahead. Resist the urge to wear headphones while you ride, as it can drown out the traffic signals around you (and pull your attention away from potholes and other road hazards).
- Respecting other road users. Try to think of your bicycle as a car, with you as the driver. You should go with the flow of traffic when riding in the road, and clearly communicate your actions before changing your position (your arms are your turn signals). Always yield to others with the right-of-way, regardless of whether they are cars, pedestrians, or other bikers.
- Taking the safest option. If your route has a bike lane or a dedicated bike path, always use it. If you don’t have to ride after dark, then don’t. What’s the sense in putting yourself at higher risk?
Do you know someone who bikes every day? You can help keep him or her safe by sharing this article on Facebook or via email. Even if your friends are safe riders, it never hurts to warn them of the dangers they face on the roads!