Bicycle Awareness for Drivers
Earl Mowery, Jr., 61, of Brighton was killed while riding his bicycle on August 6, 2010. Mr. Mowery was hit by a Dodge Durango driven by a female. Because the driver is juvenile, no information such as her age or the specific circumstances of the accident are being released. It’s highly likely, though, that the driver simply didn’t see Mr. Mowery on his bicycle. Such accidents are, unfortunately, very common. There are steps you can take to avoid accidents with cyclists on the road.
1. Bicycles Are Vehicles
First, be aware that bicycles are considered vehicles, and are legally permitted to share the roads with cars and other, larger vehicles. As such, cyclists must also follow the rules of the road, but even if they do, there may still be issues with visibility because a cyclist on a bike takes up so much less space than a car or truck. Remember they are entitled to drive on the road, and respect that space.
2. Know Your Right-of-Way
Because bicycles are also vehicles, take some time to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road, particularly as they pertain to right-of-way. If it’s been a while since you got your driver’s license, a refresher can’t hurt. Better yet, consider taking a defensive driving course. Some insurance companies will even offer you a policy discount when you provide proof of having taken such a course.
3. Check Your Blind Spot
When changing lanes, always check your blind spot. It’s sometimes difficult to see a car in this spot, so imagine how much more difficult it is to see a bicycle. Don’t just rely on your mirrors when you change lanes. Turn and look, and be sure to signal so any vehicle approaching from behind is aware of your intentions and can adjust accordingly.
4. Check “The Door Zone”
If you park on the street, look over your shoulder before opening your door to exit the vehicle. Cyclists often ride in “the door zone.” Even if cyclists see you in the driver’s seat, they cannot predict when you might open the door right in their path. It’s also a good idea to check behind you before opening the door because while a cyclist could be severely injured by slamming into the door, an approaching car or truck could take the door right off your car. Always look, then open.
5. Turn From Furthermost Lanes
Only make turns from the furthermost lanes. For example, if you need to turn right, turn from the farthest right lane, not from the center lane, unless it is also designated for right turns. If the farthest lane is not a turn-only, but instead allows vehicles to continue driving straight, and you turn from the center lane, you can place your vehicle right in the path of an oncoming bicycle, or any other vehicle, for that matter. Watch the road signs, and follow them closely.
If you’re a cyclist on the road, be sure you know the right-of-way rules, and follow them to the letter. You may also want to periodically review a list of safety tips for cyclists to keep them fresh in your mind. Ride defensively. Even if you come to a situation where you have the right of way, it’s safer to assume that a car or truck driver may not be aware that you do. Take a moment to assess what the driver of the other vehicle is doing before simply riding out in front of them. You may have the law on your side, but the law won’t keep you from getting injured if you’re hit by a car.
If the unthinkable does happen, and you are hit by a car, a bicycle accident lawyer can help. It can be difficult to navigate the legal system on your own, and if you’re injured, you may be hospitalized, or confined to bed. An attorney will represent you, and ensure your interests are looked after so you can focus on recovering, and getting back on your bike as soon as possible.
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