According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 738 cyclists killed in the US in 2017. Lacking the protection of a vehicle, cyclists tend to sustain worse injuries than automobile drivers and passengers when involved in an accident. When it comes to accidents involving cyclists, there are certain patterns that, when recognized, can help you avoid becoming another statistic.
Left Hook Cycling AccidentsOne of the most common forms that cycling accidents take involves a left-turning car that does not yield to the cyclist heading toward them in the opposite lane. As a result, the cyclist either collides with the car’s passenger-side fender or, even worse, the car runs the cyclist down. The driver will either admit they didn’t see the cyclist, or insist that the cyclist “appeared out of nowhere” and, therefore, must have been moving too fast. The reality is that the driver was on the lookout for another car or a truck and not a smaller object like a bicycle. That is what makes these situations so dangerous for cyclists. You can avoid this type of accident by never assuming. Do not assume that the oncoming car about to turn left sees you, and do not assume that just because the driver has made eye-contact with you that he or she is going to yield to you like they legally should. Your wisest course of action is to slow down and let that vehicle complete its turn.
Right Hook Cycling AccidentsPicture this: a vehicle passes a cyclist on the left and then makes a right-hand turn – directly into the cyclist’s path. In many cases, there is not even a turn signal and the motorist does not take the time to check their right-hand mirror. The cyclist ends up being run down or runs into the vehicle’s passenger-side fender. In these cases, the driver will usually state that they just never saw the cyclist, although the cyclist would have been hard to miss had they actually checked their right-hand mirror before executing that turn. Their brain likely did not register the presence of the cyclist because most drivers are looking for other vehicles like trucks and cars, not bicycles. This kind of accident is hard to avoid. You cannot read the minds of the drivers around you, so you cannot predict when one is going to turn in front of you without a signal. If you do see a signal, it is best to assume that the driver did not recognize your presence and to slow down to avoid getting hurt.
T-Bone Cycling AccidentsAnother common form that cyclist accidents take is the T-bone, and this one is typically the fault of the cyclist. The cyclist rides out into the road from a cross street and fails to yield correctly to cross traffic. The result is that the cyclist “T-bones” one of the cars making up the cross traffic. Again, this one is on the cyclist and, when it comes to insurance claims related to the accident, the cyclist is considered at fault. This type of accident can be avoided by always checking for cross traffic, whether you are coming from a cross street or your own driveway – just as you would do with your vehicle. Failure to yield can quickly turn fatal.
Right Cross Cycling AccidentsA car pulls out from a side street to the right of the cyclist and either hits the cyclist or blocks the cyclist so that a collision with the side of the car is unavoidable. And it does not have to be a side street – it could be a parking lot, an alley, or a driveway that is involved. However, once again, we have a case of a motorist that didn’t see the cyclist. That will be the defense that the motorist uses, but they will still likely be held liable for the accident.
Safe Cycling on the RoadThere are a few definite measures that cyclists can take to stay safe on the road:
- Make yourself visible to drivers with reflective clothing, headlights, or a flashing light on your bicycle even in the daylight
- Assume that the vehicles around you haven’t noticed you and if you need to, try to make sure they see you by waving, yelling, or trying to make eye contact
- Ride a bit further to the left so that cars can see you better and so that you have more time to avoid a collision like a right hook or right cross
- Do not ride on sidewalks because that will make it less likely for a motorist to see you if they are about to turn in front of you
- Choose a safe riding time – the NHTSA reports that most bicycle accidents occur between 6 pm and 9 pm