What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
Bicyclists face serious risks when they have to share the road with motorists. Despite only accounting for about 1% of total traffic, bicyclists make up a disproportionate percentage of injuries and deaths. In 2018 alone, traffic accidents killed 857 bicyclists in the US, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Recognizing the most common causes of bike accidents could help you avoid a collision as a cyclist in Kansas City.
Driver Negligence and Inattention
Driver error is the most common reason for bicycle accidents. Drivers can make mistakes that compromise the safety of everyone on the road, such as speeding or drunk driving. Distracted driving is a common error involved in bicycle and pedestrian collisions. A driver who is texting and driving, chatting with others, looking at a map or otherwise not paying attention to the road may not see a crossing or nearby bicyclist. Failing to keep a proper lookout can increase the risk of a motorist crashing into a biker in Kansas City.
Dooring is a type of bicycle accident that also comes down to driver inattention. It describes a driver opening his or her door into traffic or a bicycle lane without first checking for oncoming bicyclists. A bicyclist could slam into the open door, get ejected from his or her bike, and suffer serious injuries in a dooring accident. Drivers and passengers should check their mirrors and look behind them for oncoming cyclists before opening their doors, especially in busy parts of downtown Kansas City.
Passing Too Closely
Many drivers do not recognize or respect bicyclists’ rights to the road. For example, a biker has the right to take up a full lane in Kansas and Missouri. Although the law requires bicyclists to stay as far to the right-hand side of the lane as possible (unless turning left or avoiding obstacles), it gives the bicyclist full reign over the lane. Drivers often get impatient when behind bicyclists, however, and pass them while in the same lane. Passing too closely could sideswipe the biker and cause a serious accident.
Broken Traffic Laws
Speeding, drunk driving, texting and driving, red-light running, and ignoring rights-of-way are commonly broken traffic laws that contribute to bicycle-vehicle collisions in Kansas City. Drivers can break many traffic laws that increase the risk of accidents. One of the most common is ignoring a bicyclist’s right-of-way at an intersection. This can result in a left-hand turn accident, where a driver turns left on top of an oncoming cyclist.
A bicyclist could also contribute to an accident by breaking traffic laws. Bikers are subject to most of the same laws as motor vehicle drivers in Kansas City. These include speed limits, rights-of-way, stop signs, red lights and traffic direction. If a bicyclist rides in a direction opposing traffic, for example, this a violation of the law in Kansas City. Breaking the law as a bicyclist could make your movements unpredictable to a nearby driver. This could increase your risk of getting into an accident.
On top of driver inattention, poor visibility in terms of being able to see a bicyclist also contributes to collisions. A bicyclist can reduce the risk of accidents related to this by using the proper lights and equipment when biking after dusk or before dawn. All cyclists in Kansas City must use a front white headlight and rear red light and/or reflector when biking at night. You can further increase your visibility for drivers by wearing bright colors, using a reflective or high-visibility vest, and only riding during the day.
Driver negligence is a major problem in Kansas City. If you get into a bicycle accident and need assistance proving negligence or obtaining fair compensation, contact an attorney near you. A Kansas City bicycle accident lawyer could help you enforce your rights and negotiate with a driver’s insurance company for a positive case outcome.