Summer weather may have more people trading their car keys in for a bike helmet. After all, riding a bike is a great form of exercise, saves on gas costs, and is a cheap and eco-friendly way to get around. Unfortunately, bicycle accidents can cause serious injuries. Whether you’re riding down the street or on the trail, you should know what the most common causes of bicycle accidents are and how you can steer clear.
Distraction is one of the leading causes of accidents, including bicycle accidents. When riders or nearby drivers are distracted, they can cause serious accidents. Whether behind the wheel or behind the handlebars, never take your attention off the road. Using a cell phone, eating, and other activities can divert your attention for long enough to have significant consequences.
Riding Too Fast
Simply because you can’t ride at the same speed a car travels doesn’t mean that you cannot speed. If you are ridding too fast to make a quick and safe stop, you’re riding too fast. High speeds can lead to fatal accidents and give you less time to react and prevent accidents. Use the terrain, weather conditions, and traffic conditions to determine a safe speed to ride.
Riding Too Close to Traffic
In many states, drivers are required by law to leave several feet of space when sharing a lane with a bicyclist. That doesn’t mean that riders should expect this to happen. When you have a choice, try to give yourself as much space as possible between your bike and the next lane of traffic. Even a little extra space can prevent accidents or near-misses. In Ohio, it is also required by law that cyclists ride as close to the right side of the road as is practical, except when it is unsafe to do so.
Merging and Intersections
In Ohio, bicyclists are classified as vehicles, which means that they must follow the rules of the road the same way a car would. This includes stopping for traffic signals, merging, and yielding. It can be easy for other drivers to miss bicyclists in traffic, and they may be struck or cut off by drivers. When riding in intersections or merging, be sure to stay to the right whenever possible, follow the rules of the road, and use hand signals to indicate changes in direction or braking.
Driveways, Parking Lots, and Sidewalks
When conditions are close and more confined, there is less space for cyclists to maneuver and avoid an accident. On sidewalks, cyclists have to contend with other pedestrians, as well as other objects like trees, trash cans, and benches. In parking lots, there is far more activity and a cyclist can easily be overlooked. Riding past or across driveways is also hazardous because of vehicles entering and exiting the driveway. When riding in busy or compact places, be extra attentive to what is happening around you. Slowing down can allow you extra time to react to changes. Never assume that a driver sees you or will stop, and be prepared to ride accordingly. There are numerous causes of cycling accidents, but these are common situations that many riders face on a daily basis. Riders can take precautions to prevent accidents in any form, however. Some ways to increase your safety on a bicycle include:
- Wearing a helmet when riding
- Wearing bright clothing or a bright vest
- Using front and rear lights on your bike
- Wearing reflective material at night
- Allowing extra space between yourself and other vehicles
- Maintaining vigilance and following the rules of the road
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, don’t hesitate to get help from our Toledo personal injury attorneys. We have more than 100 years of collective experience fighting for the victims of transportation accidents, car accidents, and more. Our team at Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A. is ready to help you explore your legal options today.