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Bicycles and Car Accidents
Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia
Most motorists give little thought to bicycles, seeing them as a minor annoyance whenever they appear on the road. However, cyclists are vulnerable to serious personal injury if they are involved in a car accident. Cars and bicycles need to respect each other and carefully follow the rules of the road to avoid devastating accidents.
How Cars Endanger Bicycles
Research conducted by the University of Toronto suggests that less than 10% of car-bicycle accidents are caused by cyclists. Drivers regularly endanger bicycles with dangerous conduct, including:
- Dangerous turning – Instead of waiting, impatient cars will often turn in front of cyclists at intersections, cutting off their path and increasing their risk of injury.
- Dangerous passing – If a motorist does not give a bicycle enough space when trying to pass, the bicyclist may be forced off the road or struck by the side of the car.
- Opening car doors – After parking, motorists will sometimes open their car’s door into the path of a bicycle. These types of accidents can be especially dangerous for cyclists, since they are often propelled up and over the car’s door.
- Disregarding bike paths – If a driver fails to check bike lanes before making a turn, a cyclist with the right-of-way could be cut off or hit.
Motorists need to drive cautiously when bicycles are around, understanding the limitations of a bicycle’s braking ability and speed. If a driver’s recklessness or neglect leads to a bicycle accident, they can be held responsible for negligence.
Avoiding Bike-Car Accidents
State law either defines a bicycle as a vehicle, or gives cyclists the same rights and responsibilities as a motorist. This is because research shows that bicycles are most safe when they are operated as vehicles, obeying the same rules of the road as motorists.
If you are a cyclist, be sure maneuver your bicycle according to accepted traffic rules, and remember that drivers do not always understand what your needs are. Safety should be your primary concern every time you are out on the open road.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car-bicycle accident, please contact our experienced accident attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. today to schedule a free personal consultation. Our law firm represents bicycle accident victims throughout Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia.