The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is promoting being a “roll model” during National Bicycle Safety Month. The idea is that everyone – motorists and bicyclists alike – can take individual steps to prevent serious and frequently deadly bike-car collisions.
The safety campaign is an important one. Far too many bicycle accidents occur in Virginia and across the country. The victims of these crashes often are children.
According to the most recent data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, over the course of a single year, there were:
- 739 bicycle crashes in our state
- 744 bicycle riders injured
- 8 bicycle riders killed.
Out of the bicyclists who were injured, 137 (or 18.4 percent), were under the age of 18.
A high number of these accidents resulted from driver or bicyclist error, including:
|Failure to yield||137||18.4%|
|Ran traffic control||55||7.4%|
|Left of center line||33||4.4%|
|Lights not on||16||2.2%|
|Improper lane change||12||1.6%|
Unfortunately, one of the most common injuries suffered in these accidents is traumatic brain injury, from mild concussions to more severe forms of brain damage with lifelong consequences.
How Can You Be a ‘Roll Model?’
According to the NHTSA, it is easy to be a “roll model.” The following are suggestions from the agency for bicyclists and vehicle drivers alike.
Bicyclists can help to prevent accidents and injuries by:
- Making sure your bike is ready for the road – Do a quick inspection of your tires, brakes, gears, handlebars and seat.
- Always wearing a helmet – This is the most effective way to avoid serious head injuries. Check out the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute’s summary of bike helmet standards, including those set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Riding as if you are another vehicle on the road – This means that you always ride with traffic – not against it – and obey all of the rules of the road. Stop at stop signs and traffic lights. Signal your turns by using hand signals.
- Make yourself visible – Wear a bright-colored shirt or jacket. Make sure your bike has reflectors. If you plan to ride at night, have lights at the front and back.
- Never bike while impaired – Driving a motor vehicle after drinking is dangerous because alcohol impairs your mental and physical faculties, leading to errors in judgment and clumsy operation of the vehicle. For all of those same reasons, it is dangerous to ride a bike after drinking as well.
For their part, motorists should:
- Respect the rights of bicyclists to share the road – Never drive in bike lanes. Yield to bicyclists. Leave a safe following distance. Always signal your turns.
- Leave three feet of space when passing – Since 2014, Virginia law has actually required motorists to leave this amount of space.
- When parked on the street, check before opening your door – “Dooring” accidents can lead to serious injuries to bicyclists. Unfortunately, Virginia is one of only 10 states in the country without an anti-dooring statute.
- Use extra caution near schools and in neighborhoods – When you know children will be near, simply be on the lookout for bicyclists.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a bicyclist in a collision with a car, protect your legal rights by contacting Geoff McDonald & Associates. A Richmond injury attorney from our firm can provide a free consultation about your case.