Bike Accidents: Common Causes and How to Protect Yourself

South Carolina is a great state for biking – and our mild weather makes it a nearly year-round option. When you’re on your bike, you have the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air, get some exercise, reduce your carbon footprint, and even save on gas. On the flip side, however, bike accidents are exceptionally dangerous, and there are several common causes that you should be on the lookout for every time you ride. If someone else’s negligence leaves you injured in a bike accident, call an experienced South Carolina bike accident attorney for the professional legal counsel you need.

Bike Accident Statistics

According to pedbikeinfo, Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, 846 people lost their lives in bike accidents across the United States in 2019 – and many, many more were seriously injured. Both pedestrians and bicyclists represent a growing percentage of total fatal traffic accidents. In 2019, bicyclists, pedestrians, and others on non-motorized vehicles accounted for 20.3 percent of all traffic deaths, while in 2010, they accounted for only 15.5 percent. This represents an overall increase of more than 30 percent, but during the same time frame, overall traffic deaths increased by less than 10 percent. The fact that pedestrian and bicycle accidents are consistently underreported serves to further emphasize the serious nature of these statistics. When you’re on your bike, in other words, you’re far more vulnerable to the risks of the road. 

Common Causes

There are a variety of common causes when it comes to dangerous bike accidents.

Excess Speed

When motorists speed, they increase their stopping distances and decrease the amount of time they have to react safely to any given situation. When you’re on your bike, you take up much less space on the road, which makes you more difficult to see and which leaves you especially vulnerable to speeding motorists.

Distraction

The only way to drive safely is by paying adequate attention to the road ahead, and any kind of distraction can prove deadly. When motorists turn to their smartphones behind the wheel, the situation becomes that much more dangerous, and bicyclists can pay the ultimate price.

Inadequate Buffer

When motorists fail to allow enough buffer between their vehicles and any bikes in their midst, it amplifies the danger bicyclists experience. Motorists who don’t allow at least three feet between their vehicles and bicycles on the road put those bicyclists in extreme danger. Not only does riding too closely increase the risk of hitting a cyclist, but it also helps to ensure that the driver and the cyclist alike have fewer viable options when it comes to avoiding dangerous situations.

Excess Movement

When motorists choose to dart in and out of traffic and generally engage in a lot of movement across the road, their ability to take in everything that is going on around them is diminished (making the road less safe generally). Additionally, however, these motorists are more likely to travel on bike lanes and, as a result, to put bicyclists in harm’s way.

Carelessness

When a motorist takes it upon himself or herself to leave his or her lane without carefully checking to ensure it is safe to do so, the driver puts bicyclists at particular risk. The same is true when motorists proceed through intersections without taking the necessary precautions and ensuring that the path forward is clear. Failing to yield the right-of-way when a motorist is required to do so is another serious risk factor that is related to carelessness – as is failing to stop for red lights and stop signs.

Impairment

When a motorist gets behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, he or she can experience impairments that are physical, cognitive, and even sensory in nature, and that make him or her an inherently dangerous driver. Exhaustion behind the wheel can lead to similar kinds of impairment and endangers bicyclists in the process.

Dooring Accidents

Motorists who park along the side of the road and who don’t pay adequate attention when they fling open their doors into oncoming traffic often cause what are called dooring accidents in which bicyclists crash into these open car doors headlong.

Blind Spots

Blind spots deserve a mention of their own. Motorists experience blind spots on both sides of their vehicles, and as a result, cannot always see what is happening right next to them. When you are on your bike, it’s far easier for you to get lost in a driver’s blind spot, which makes proceeding with utmost care and taking motorists’ blind spots into careful consideration every time you are on your bike imperative.

Protecting Yourself

People Powered Movement – a bicycle and walking alliance – offers the following important steps that you can take to protect yourself when you are biking:

  • Wear a helmet every single time you ride. The leading cause of bike fatalities is head injuries, but a bike helmet that fits well can significantly reduce the risk.
  • Check your bike to ensure it is road-worthy every time you hop on, including checking your tires for wear and checking to ensure that your brakes are working properly.
  • Wear a piece of reflective outerwear that increases your visibility whenever you ride.
  • Keep your hands where they belong. Even if you have an incredible sense of balance, it will take you far longer to safely react to sudden danger if your hands are not in the proper position.
  • Know the appropriate hand signals and use them consistently.
  • Ride distraction-free by putting your phone away and concentrating on safety.
  • Proceed as if you were driving a car by employing all the same safety standards you do behind the wheel (which can significantly decrease the risks associated with biking).
  • Use dedicated bike lanes whenever they are available to you. 

An Experienced South Carolina Bike Accident Attorney Can Help

The practiced South Carolina bike accident attorneys at McCravy Law take great pride in their track record of successfully helping clients like you prevail with just compensation that covers their full range of accident-related losses. To learn more about how we can also help you, please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 864-388-9100 today.

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