The 5 Most Common Causes of Bike Crashes and How to Avoid Them
Accidents Involving Cyclists
Cycling isn’t an exceptionally risky way of traveling — especially when enjoyed with proper safety precautions like bike lights and reflective clothing, but cyclists are overrepresented among those who suffer injuries and die in motor vehicle crashes.
Most of the crashes that involve cyclists in North Carolina are completely preventable, and they often happen because motor vehicle drivers aren’t paying attention and aren’t looking out for cyclists on the road. These crashes tend to follow specific patterns, and if cyclists and motor vehicle drivers alike looked out for these patterns, bike crashes and fatalities could fall dramatically.
Watch Out for These Common Cycling Accident Scenarios
Listed below are five of the most common situations that lead to car-on-bike crashes. While knowing about these scenarios won’t prevent every possible crash, you can still reduce your risk and keep yourself (and others) safe by learning about these dangerous cycling situations and how to avoid them.
Crash Scenario #1: The Left Cross
- How it happens: A left cross crash happens when a car or truck driver makes a left turn but fails to see a bicyclist traveling in the opposite direction on the other side of the road. This type of crash accounts for almost half of all car-bike crashes, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC).
- How to avoid it: Bicyclists riding on sidewalks are a common factor in these crashes, as drivers may not be looking out for fast-moving vehicles off the roadway, and trees or parked cars can hide cyclists on sidewalks from view. To reduce the risk of a left cross accident, cyclists should always ride on the road whenever possible. Meanwhile, motor vehicle drivers need to look out for cyclists both on the sidewalk and in the oncoming lanes before turning left.
Crash Scenario #2: The Right Hook
- How it happens: This type of crash occurs when a car or truck passes a cyclist and then suddenly turns right, moving directly into the cyclist’s path.
- How to avoid it: Right hook crashes often occur when motor vehicle drivers fail to use their turn signals and then put their vehicle into a cyclist’s path without any warning. Drivers need to signal their turns properly, while cyclists should watch out while passing stopped or slow-moving cars and take a lane when necessary for safety.
Crash Scenario #3: Getting Doored
- How it happens: A cyclist “gets doored” (as most bike riders refer to it) when a car or truck driver opens the driver’s-side door directly into their path, either hitting them from the side or causing them to run into the door at high speed.
- How to avoid it: These types of accidents almost always happen when a cyclist is riding alongside a line of parked cars. Motor vehicle drivers are usually at fault for dooring accidents, and it’s their responsibility to check for cyclist traffic before opening the door of their vehicle. Avoiding a crash is better than getting hurt and being “in the right,” though, so cyclists should exercise caution when driving alongside parked vehicles by riding at least three feet away from them and watching upcoming vehicles for signs of a potential door opening (for example, brake or tail lights being on, movement inside the vehicle, etc.).
Crash Scenario #4: The Alley-Oops
- How it happens: This type of accident occurs when a car or truck pulls out of an alley, a parking lot, or a garage and hits a cyclist.
- How to avoid it: Again, cyclists riding on sidewalks are a frequent factor in these accidents, so bike riders should always ride on the road unless traffic or roadway conditions prohibit it. However, motor vehicle drivers also have a responsibility to check for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic before they pull out from a garage, parking lot, or alley.
Crash Scenario #5: Getting Rear-Ended
- How it happens: Rear-end crashes happen when a car or truck hits a bike rider from behind.
- How to avoid it: As with most rear-end crashes, the driver who hits the other party from behind is often at fault. However, cyclists can bear some of the fault too, especially if they weren’t following the North Carolina laws that require bike riders to have a red rear light or wear a reflective vest when riding at night. Cyclists need to follow these laws and make sure they’re visible in dim conditions, while car and truck drivers have a responsibility to pay attention to the road in front of them and watch out for cyclists, especially when going around curves.
Of course, even the most careful cyclists can suffer serious injuries in a crash through no fault of their own — especially when negligent drivers create dangerous conditions on the road. When this happens, these bike riders need help from an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the law and can help them hold the drivers who hurt them accountable.
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Contact Myers Law Firm If You’ve Been Hurt in a Bike Accident in Mecklenburg County
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, Attorneys Matt and Lee Myers of Myers Law Firm are here to help. If you choose us to represent you, we’ll advocate for you with an aggressive legal strategy that puts your needs first. We offer free initial consultations for all personal injury cases, so there’s no risk if you want to speak with us today.
To schedule your free consultation, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or fill out our simple online contact form.
MacAlister, A., & Zuby, D.S. (2015). Cyclist crash scenarios and factors relevant to the design of cyclist detection systems (IRC-15-50). Arlington, VA: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Retrieved from http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/documents/masterfiledocs.ashx?id=2092
Ride smart. (2010, June 28). Bicycling. Retrieved from http://www.bicycling.com/training/health-injuries/ride-smart
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.