Bicycling as a form of transportation has many benefits. Biking is economical, healthy and good for the environment. But, bicycling can also be dangerous. Each year, more than 500,000 bicyclists are treated in U.S. emergency rooms; 700 die. Many of these deaths and injuries are related to motor vehicle accidents.
There is little a biker can do to protect himself from a reckless driver. Titanium frames and sleek helmets can’t protect against a bicyclist from a 3,500 pound vehicle. When the car hits the bicycle, serious injuries are inevitable.
Pennsylvania law is designed to protect bicyclists. Drivers have a “duty of care” towards bicyclists. This means that they must watch for bicyclists and take steps to reduce the chances of an accident. Yet, many PA drivers pay little attention to bikers; some even consider bikers an annoyance. These drivers often behave in ways that increase the risk of a bicyclist getting hurt.
Five Driver Behaviors That Cause PA Bicycle Accident Injuries
- Dangerous turns: Drivers at intersections often try to turn in front of an oncoming bicyclist. This is dangerous, especially if the driver has underestimated the bicyclist’s speed. A left hand turn can cut off the bicyclist’s path causing a collision; a right hand turn can knock the bicyclist over or force him into the path of the turning vehicle. Both types of turns can result in serious injury.
- Dangerous Passing: When a passing a bicycle, drivers must give the bicyclist enough space. Divers who pass to closely may sideswipe the bicyclists with side-view mirror. Drafts from larger vehicles can force the bicyclist off the road or push the bike into traffic.
- Disregard of bike lanes: Pennsylvania drivers should use extra care and watch for bicyclists when driving near bike lanes. Watching for bicycles is especially important at driveways and intersections where the bicyclist must share the lane with other vehicles. Car drivers should remember that although bikes are slower, bicyclists have the same rights of way as other drivers.
- Opening car doors: When a driver opens a car door into the path of an on-coming bicyclist, the bicyclist is put at risk. If the bicyclist hits the door, he or she may be knocked off the bicycle and into the path of a moving vehicle. Follow the link to learn more about Pennsylvania dooring accidents.
- Overestimating a bicyclist’s ability to stop: Under normal conditions, it takes about five seconds to stop a car. Stopping a bicycle takes longer. In fact, sudden braking can cause the bicyclist to be thrown over the bike and into the street. Drivers who assume that bicyclists can make sudden stops put bikers at risk.
Although car drivers should remember that bicyclists have the same rights as other drivers on the road, drivers aren’t the only ones responsible for preventing PA bicycle accidents. Bicyclists must also do their part to prevent accidents and injury by wearing proper safety gear and following the rules of the road. However, even the most experienced bicyclists are defenseless against a reckless driver.
Our legal team can assist you in holding negligent drivers accountable for bicyclist injuries. If you have been injured in a Pennsylvania bicycle accident, we are here to help. Call us at (215) 309-4034 to schedule a free consultation with a Philadelphia bike accident attorney.