Coexisting with Bikes: Tips for Drivers
Motor vehicles are undeniably one of the greatest hazards out on the road for cyclists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hundreds of cyclists are killed and thousands injured in accidents involving motor vehicles every year. The legal team at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., has seen time and time again how motor vehicle drivers play a large role in New Jersey bicycle accidents by driving in an unsafe or negligent manner.
Drivers have a responsibility to share the road, and bicycling advocates argue that drivers can play a big role in reducing the number of accidents, and lead to a more peaceful coexistence. Here are some tips for drivers to better coexist with bikes out on the road.
- Understand bikes are vulnerable- A standard car weights about two tons, while a typical bike can weight as little as 20lbs. Bikes and their riders are at a high risk of suffering injury or death if they collide with a motor vehicle. Drivers must understand this, and act accordingly when driving in the vicinity of a cyclist. In any physical interaction between car and bike, the bike always comes out worse for wear.
- Understand the rules of the road for bikes- Many drivers are completely unaware of the rules that bicyclists must follow when braving public streets and roads. The state of New Jersey has specific laws that govern the behavior of both cars and bicycles on the road. Bicycles are viewed as vehicles on the same level as cars, and they must respect traffic law, but their right-of-way must also be respected because they are entitled to share the road.
- Watch out when making a right- Intersections are a hotspot for serious car-on-bike collisions. Drivers making right turns should always take the time to check for riders. A cyclist may be coming from behind and to the right of your vehicle, and may be planning to ride straight ahead. If you don’t signal your right turn, or do a mirror check, you could wind up hitting each other. If you are not sure if a nearby cyclist is planning to turn right, look for his raised left hand in a squared position, or an extended right hand that is signaling the intention to make a turn.
- Be careful when turning left- A driver trying to make a left turn must be on the lookout for bikes crossing the intersection. Sometimes, a driver sees an oncoming bicyclist, but believes he has enough time to complete a turn when he does not. Often, after a collision, the negligent driver will state that he didn’t realize the cyclist was going that fast. A bike can easily get to speed up to 15 or 20 mph. If in doubt about how fast a bike is moving, be sure to yield.
- Allow bikes adequate clearance- Though the state of New Jersey has no specific laws regarding the amount of space a driver is required to give a bike when passing, most states in the U.S. require cars to give a rider three feet of clearance. Along with leaving space, it is important for motor vehicles to reduce their speed when passing a bike to allow for reaction time.
- Look before you exit- Drivers and passengers of motor vehicles must check for oncoming cyclists before they open their doors to exit. Getting “doored” is one of the most common and worrisome accidents for cyclists. While drivers can take a few seconds to look and wait to exit if they see a bicycle approaching, a rider has no way to foresee if someone inside a parked car is about to open their door.
Bike Accident? Call Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C.
It is an unfortunate fact, but many bicycle accidents are caused by negligent drivers. If you or a loved one were involved in a bike crash with injuries, call Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., immediately at (609) 240-0040. We are avid cyclists and veteran New Jersey personal injury attorneys with a great track record in recovering compensation for our clients. Call today for a consultation and see what our legal team can do for you.
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