Common causes of california bicycle accidents and how to avoid them
Learn how to prevent a bike accident, and find out what to do if you’ve been hurt on the road
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1,000 bicyclists die and 130,000 more are injured every year in the U.S.
In addition to the physical and emotional toll that results from a bicycle accident, the CDC estimates that the financial costs of injuries and fatalities caused by bicycle accidents exceed $23 billion annually after health care and lost productivity expenses are taken into account.
With more and more people using their bicycles as a form of transportation or for exercise, bicycle accident rates will likely continue to rise, so it’s increasingly important for everyone to be aware of bicycle safety issues and road laws.
Most common causes of bike accidents
Bicycle accidents can happen for many reasons, and even when proper safety protocols are followed, accidents still occur. In order to protect yourself, you should be aware of the following common causes of bicycle accidents.
If you’re operating your bicycle on the road near parked vehicles, you run the risk of having a car door open in front of you while you’re moving. These events often happen so quickly that cyclists don't have time to react, and as a result, many end up hitting the doors and flying over them on impact.
Bike accidents involving car doors can lead to catastrophic injuries, depending on how the person lands. If you’re riding next to parked vehicles, make sure that you’re diligent about looking at the vehicles to see if anyone’s sitting in them so you can avoid this type of accident.
Not using the far right lane or bicycle lane
When you’re operating a bicycle on the road, it’s imperative that you stay in the far right lane or the bicycle lane. Always avoid riding in the street if a bicycle path or sidewalk is available.
Additionally, if you need to cross to the other side of the road, do this at a crosswalk or intersection. Do not cross lanes of traffic or use the car turning lanes.
Vehicle turning right
One of the most common accidents between a bicycle and motor vehicle is when a car is making a right-hand turn. Always be exceptionally careful at crosswalks when there’s a potential for right-turning vehicles.
Distracted driving has become a major factor in all kinds of accidents, so make sure the driver of the vehicle can see you if you're approaching an intersection on your bicycle. If the vehicle indicates that it’s planning to turn right, don't pull up next to it.
Bicycle safety tips
In addition to avoiding the common causes of bicycle accidents mentioned above, you should also implement the following safety tips every time you’re on the road:
- Check that your bicycle is in working order. A quick visual inspection of your bike before you ride can save you a lot of misery later. Make sure that your chain is oiled and tight. Check hand brakes, and make sure that your handlebars aren’t loose. Make sure tires are inflated to the proper level and your seat is at the right height and locked into place. Verify that your bike reflectors are visible—both in the front and back.
- Wear a helmet. Helmets are an absolute necessity, and they can save your life. You want to make sure your helmet fits correctly on your head and that the straps are secure when closed. Secure the chin strap so that the helmet doesn’t move. Make sure there’s no "wiggle room" inside the helmet. If necessary, insert pads to ensure a good fit.
- Dress to be seen. Always wear reflective clothing—even during the day. Make sure the reflective material is on both the front and back of your clothing. If you’re going to operate your bicycle at night, make sure that you also have a headlight on your bike so you can easily be seen by other drivers.
- Follow traffic laws. Make sure that you’re familiar with all of your local and state bicycle laws. Keep in mind that you should always use hand signals when operating your bike and ride with traffic (never against). Also, you should never wear earbuds or any other form of ear covering that can prevent you from hearing and responding to the traffic around you.
Consult a California bike accident attorney if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident
Being involved in a bicycle accident can turn your life upside down. These accidents often result in serious injuries that leave you unable to work during your recovery. Some of these injuries may require extensive medical care and rehabilitation that can last a lifetime.
Trying to pay your bills while you heal from your injuries can be overwhelming for you and your loved ones, but financial compensation is available if it can be proven that the other driver was at fault in your accident.
Give yourself some peace of mind by consulting a bicycle accident attorney to assist you with your claim. An experienced attorney can investigate your case to prove negligence and negotiate with the insurance company to get you maximum compensation.
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident in California, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at MVP Accident Attorneys. Our attorneys specialize in bike accident cases and have recovered millions of dollars for our thousands of satisfied clients.
Contact us to schedule your free no-obligation consultation today.
Brett S. Sachs graduated from Michigan State University College of Law with Cum Laude Honors. While attending Michigan State, Brett was awarded for his service in the Michigan State University College of Law Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections from injustices brought upon them. Learn more.
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