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Who’s Right, Part 2: North Carolina Right-of-Way Laws for Bicycles

North Carolina's Bicycle Laws

If you’re a cyclist and you ride on public roads in North Carolina, it’s essential to understand our state’s traffic laws and how they apply to bicycles. In part two of our right-of-way series, we’re explaining North Carolina’s bicycle laws and how they affect riders, pedestrians, and motorists on the roadKeep reading to learn more. 

North Carolina Traffic Laws Treat Bikes Just Like Cars 

Because bikes are pedal-powered, many people don’t realize that North Carolina traffic laws treat them the same as motor vehiclesBikes and bicyclists have the same rights on the road as motor vehicles, but they also have the same responsibilities to follow traffic laws. This includes signalingmaking proper lane changes, and obeying all traffic signals.  

Here are some of the fundamental rules that cyclists need to keep in mind: 

Ride on the Road 

In general, cyclists must ride on the road as long as it’s safe to do so. Different communities in North Carolina have different laws regarding cycling on the sidewalk. If it’s legal and you choose to bike on the sidewalk, watch for pedestrians and move with the flow of foot traffic. 

When you ride your bike on the road, you should position yourself as far to the right as you can safely manage and move with the flow of traffic. Drivers must treat cyclists like they would any other vehicle, which includes yielding to them. 

Follow the Rules of the Road 

Too many cyclists weave between cars, pass on the shoulder, or perform other risky maneuvers just because they can. These types of behaviors can put you in danger, and they’re illegal as wellRiding on the road and behaving like a car allows pedestrians and other drivers to anticipate your movements and give you plenty of leeway. 

Use Your Arms to Signal 

Since your bike doesn’t have blinkers, your arms become the turn signals that let other vehicles know what you intend to do. Just like drivers, cyclists must use turn signals to communicate as they ride. 

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Bike Safely With These Tips 

North Carolina’s bike laws are designed to keep you safe on the road, but there’s much more you can do. Follow the steps below to reduce your risk of a collision or injury. 

Wear a Helmet 

North Carolina law only mandates helmet use for cyclists under 16, but this doesn’t mean adults can safely leave their helmets at homeWearing a proper helmet is the simplest and easiest way to dramatically reduce your risk of a deadly head injury. More than half of all cyclists killed in 2018 were not wearing helmets, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. 

Ride With Lights at Night 

Under North Carolina law, cyclists who ride at night must use front and rear lights that are visible from up to 300 feet. Although the law doesn’t mandate a blinking taillight, many cyclists choose to use one for the extra visibility it provides.  

Choose High-Visibility Clothing 

Cycling isn’t the time to put on dark colors that blend in with the road. Choose bright, reflective colors that stand out on the street. This will help cars see you well in advance and act accordingly. 

Make Sure Your Bike Is Ready to Ride 

Bikes don’t have a “check engine” light or an oil-change reminder, so it’s easy to forget to maintain them. But bikes are complex machines, and they need regular maintenance to provide a safe ride. 

Make sure to perform routine brake checks, inflate your tires often, and oil your chain to keep things running smoothly. If your bike has been sitting in the garage for a while or hasn’t been checked by an expert in years, bring it to your local bike shop for a tune-up before you take to the road. 

RELATED: Who’s Right? North Carolina Right-of-Way Laws for Pedestrians 

Hurt in a Bike Crash in North Carolina? Call Myers Law Firm 

At Myers Law Firm, we believe everyone should feel safe on the road, and we’re passionate about helping people who become injured through no fault of their own. If you’re a cyclist who’s suffering after a crash, get in touch with us to learn about your rights and options. We’ll meet with you in person during a free case evaluation, get to know you, and offer practical advice about your legal options and your best path forward. 

To schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys, call 888-376-2889 or complete our quick online form. 

References 

Bicycle safety. (2019). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://helmets.org/stats.htm#effectivenes 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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Bicyclist Injuries

When you’re getting ready to go for a bike ride, you make sure you have everything you need for safety and check that your bike is in good shape.

But then it happens. You’re hit by a motor vehicle as they make a left-hand turn directly into you. Even though you wore a helmet and took safety precautions, you suffer serious injuries and end up with significant medical bills.

If this sounds like your situation, you’re not alone. On average, 1,000 North Carolina bicyclists suffer injuries in police-reported crashes with motor vehicles each year. Approximately 20 of these cyclists die, and 60 of them suffer serious injuries.

Even worse, some of these victims get hit by drivers who don’t carry auto insurance. So what happens if the person who hits you doesn’t have any insurance coverage? Are you totally out of luck?

Not necessarily. Read on to learn more.

Your Auto Insurance Policy Can Help After a Collision With an Uninsured Driver

If you have an auto insurance policy, it should include coverage that can help you if you get hit by an uninsured driver, even if the crash happened on your bike and not in your car.

Many people don’t realize that when they buy auto insurance, they’re purchasing coverage for many automobile-related harms — even those that don’t involve them driving or even riding in a car. This provision of auto insurance becomes very important for bicyclists who get hit by a car or truck.

RELATED ARTICLE: Do I Have to Pay My Own Medical Bills After a Car Crash?

And if you have an auto insurance policy that meets the minimum legal requirements in North Carolina, you should have coverage that protects you if you are hit by a driver who has no insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the costs of your injuries and other financial losses. This coverage is called uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.

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What Does UM/UIM Insurance Cover?

Even though the law requires every driver to carry some amount of auto insurance, some people will always break the law and drive uninsured rather than pay insurance premiums. In fact, almost 7 percent of drivers in North Carolina carry no car insurance whatsoever.

This alarming fact is exactly why UM/UIM coverage exists. UM/UIM coverage provides compensation when the at-fault driver’s coverage isn’t enough to pay for all the damages you incur — or when the at-fault driver doesn’t have any insurance at all.

UM/UIM coverage will pay for both financial and non-financial losses after a wreck. Examples of losses covered by UM/UIM coverage include:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Medications and medical equipment
  • Lost wages due to missing time at work
  • Loss of future earnings potential
  • The costs of household help or in-home nursing care
  • Pain and suffering

UM/UIM coverage can also help cover losses from hit-and-run crashes. When an unidentified negligent driver hits a cyclist and then leaves the scene, the bicyclist should be able to successfully file an UM/UIM claim with their own auto insurance company.

Minimum UM Rarely Provides Enough Coverage for Serious Injuries

Even though UM/UIM coverage can be incredibly helpful, it will only reimburse you for losses up to the policy limits. If you just have the state-mandated minimum $30,000 of UM coverage (UIM coverage isn’t available at the $30,000 minimum limits) and an uninsured or underinsured driver leaves you with serious injuries, it’s easy to exhaust the $30,000 and still have unpaid medical bills left over, not to mention other losses.

This is one of the many reasons why we recommend that most drivers carry additional UM/UIM coverage beyond North Carolina’s state-mandated minimums. Adding additional UM/UIM coverage is generally affordable and won’t create massive increases in your premiums, so it’s something you should consider — especially if you’re a cyclist, since bicycle riders often suffer serious injuries in collisions.

RELATED ARTICLE: Why You Need More UM/UIM Coverage Than You Think

If you’ve been hit and injured while riding your bike by an uninsured or underinsured driver in North Carolina, call your insurance company to find out what types of coverage you have available under your policy. And if you find the details of your policy confusing or your insurance company is giving you the runaround, contact Myers Law Firm for help.

Myers Law Firm: Fighting for Bicycle Accident Victims in and Around Charlotte, North Carolina

At Myers Law Firm, we understand that a serious bike crash can leave you with confusion, stress, and anxiety, not to mention lots of medical bills and other losses. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence, we’re here to help. When you choose us to represent you, we’ll act as your advocate and use our experience and resources to fight relentlessly for you.

To schedule your free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer from Myers Law Firm, call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form. We’ll use this time to learn about your case and inform you about your legal options so you can go forward with confidence.

References

Bicycle crash data. (n.d.). North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved from http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/pbcat_nc/_bicycle.cfm

Megna, M. (2017, November 15). Uninsured drivers by state. CarInsurance.com. Retrieved from https://www.carinsurance.com/Articles/uninsured-motorist-coverage-state-averages-of-uninsured-drivers.aspx

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Bicycling in North Carolina

Bicycling and walking are among the healthiest and most environmentally friendly ways to get around. These activities do come with certain risks, though — and in North Carolina, those risks are higher than almost anywhere else. 

According to data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT’s) Watch for Me NC pedestrian and cyclist safety program, vehicles in North Carolina hit more than 3,000 pedestrians and 850 bicyclists every year, making North Carolina one of the least safe states for walking and cycling. 

Even more alarming is the fatality rate for these crashes: approximately 160 pedestrians and 20 bicyclists die in statewide traffic crashes each year. This figure represents roughly 15 percent of all traffic deaths in the state. 

The populations in cities around the state such as Charlotte, Raleigh, and Asheville continue to grow rapidly, which is one factor fueling the rise in injuries and deaths. Public officials and law enforcement personnel say they’re striving to reduce the rates of pedestrian crashes and encourage walkable and bike-friendly communities. To accomplish this, though, officials say they need help from drivers and pedestrians alike. 

“Pedestrian and bicycle safety is more important than ever before,” Danny Pleasant, director of Charlotte Department of Transportation, told the Charlotte Observer last year. “The bottom line is, everyone needs to be involved. Everyone needs to look out for one another.” 

Drivers: Know the Risk Factors for a Pedestrian or Cyclist Crash

If you’re a driver in North Carolinait’s important to share the road safely and avoid the major driver behaviors that put pedestrians and cyclists at riskCollisions involving pedestrians often involve distracted driving, intoxicating substancesor speeding, and bicycle accidents often happen due to negligent driver actions, like opening a car door in a rider’s path.

  • A pedestrian who gets hit by a car at 40 mph has only a 15 percent chance of surviving the crash. Driving slower in areas with foot traffic can significantly reduce the risk for a fatal accident. 
  • Seasons do not discriminate — pedestrian and cyclist crashes occur year around. 
  • More than half of vehicle-pedestrian crashes occur near bus stops or on bus route roads. 
  • 25 percent of bicyclist and pedestrian accidents occur while a vehicle is turning. 
  • Approximately 76 percent of accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians occur during the week. These crashes often happen during the rush hour commutes in the morning and early evening.

RELATED: The 5 Most Common Causes of Bike Crashes And How to Avoid Them

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Pedestrians and Cyclists: Know the Risk Factors for a Crash

As a cyclist or pedestrian, you’re trusting that vehicle operators are obeying the law, being responsive to traffic signals and signs, and looking out for their surroundings. Unfortunately, you can’t control drivers’ behavior or keep them from exercising poor judgment, but you can lower your risk for a crash by raising your alertness levels and taking certain precautions. 

Make yourself visible when you ride a bike.

  • Attach a reflector to your bike or a personal item, or wear a bright and reflective vest or shirt. 
  • Make sure you’re visible at crosswalks by avoiding large objects, signs, or trees. 
  • Carry a flashlight and attach both front and rear lights to your bike. 

Stay alert and obey the law. 

  • Always cross at crosswalks when walking and ride in bike lanes (if provided) when cycling. 
  • If there is no sidewalk, walking pedestrians should walk against traffic. If there are no bike lanes, bicyclists should ride with traffic and use proper hand signals. 
  • Even at a signaled crosswalk, look at drivers and make eye contact if possible before crossing the road. 
  • Watch out for turning vehicles at intersections and vehicles backing up in parking lots. 
  • Don’t let yourself get distracted when you walk or bike — avoid headphones and put your cell phone away. 
  • Avoid unlit roads and crosswalks at night. 
  • Don’t ride a bicycle intoxicated, and avoid walking long distances after drinking.

For additional educational tips and resourcesvisit the official website of Watch for Me NC.

What to Do If an Accident Occurs

If you’re involved in traffic accident in North Carolina, you should always take several important steps, regardless of your role in the crash (driver, pedestrian, cyclist, or witness). 

  • Assess the situation and remove yourself from danger if possible. 
  • Call for emergency medical help if a serious injury occurred. 
  • Document the entire scene with photos, video, and written notes. Take down details about conditions at the scene, damage to property and vehicles, injuries, and any other factors that may have played a role in or resulted from the crash. 
  • File an accident report with the police department. 
  • Collect data from all parties, including names, phone numbers, and insurance information. 
  • Never admit or imply fault. Leave it to the authorities to decide who was at fault for the accident. 
  • Contact your insurance agency. 

For more tips that can help you after an accident, read our previous blog article on this subject. 

Finally, if you’ve been injured in a crash in a North Carolina, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can investigate your accident, deal with the insurance companies, and make sure your rights are protected. 

Injured in an Accident? Contact Myers Law Firm Today

If you’ve suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligent behavior while walking or cycling in North Carolina, the team at Myers Law Firm may be able to help you receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We are committed to advocating for the rights and safety of pedestrians and bicyclists in North Carolina, and we work to provide fair and aggressive legal representation that puts your needs above any other concern. 

To schedule your free consultation today and speak with an attorney at no risk to you, fill out our convenient online contact form or call our offices at 888-376-2889. 

References 

Crash facts. (n.d.). Watch for Me NC. Retrieved from http://www.watchformenc.org/crashfacts/ 

Safety Tips for Pedestrians. (n.d.) Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Retrieved from http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/community/tips_pedestrian.cfm 

Stone, A. (2016, July 14). Safety program aims to reduce Charlotte’s rising pedestrian, cyclist deaths. The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved from http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article89680127.html

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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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.

RELATED: Sharing The Road: Basic Bicycle Safety Laws In North Carolina

  • 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.

References

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.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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