Cycling is becoming increasingly common these days. In fact, many riders have started to opt for bicycling to commute around town instead of driving or using public transportation. And there has been an especially large increase in bicyclists on the road since the pandemic, as cycling is a more socially distant and healthy way to get around.
Unfortunately, despite the increasing number of cyclists on the roads, bicycle safety continues to be a significant issue. Around 1,000 bicyclists die every year, and over 130,000 are injured in motor vehicle-related accidents. And one of the primary causes of these accidents is distracted driving.
With May being National Bike Month, we thought we’d help raise awareness by talking about the dangers of distracted driving, Indiana bicycle accidents, and how to keep the roads safe to prevent these tragic accidents.
Distracted Driving Statistics
When someone causes a car accident as a distracted driver, the consequences can be severe. Unfortunately, with cell phones and other electronic devices that pull drivers’ attention, distracted driving accidents continue to happen at alarming rates.
In recent years, distracted driving has killed over 3,000 people annually, and 1 in 5 people who were killed by a distracted driver were either walking or riding their bike. Additional distracted driving facts include:
- Young adult and teen drivers are the primary cause of distracted driving accidents.
- 39% of high school students have admitted to texting or emailing while driving.
- Teens who use their phones while driving are also more likely to drive while drunk and without a seatbelt.
Of course, cell phone use is not the only cause of distracted driving. Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention away from the road and your driving. This can include:
- visual distractions that take your eyes off the road;
- manual distractions that take your hands off the wheel;
- and cognitive distractions that take your mind off driving
Examples of various driving distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or other mobile device
- Eating and drinking
- Looking at a GPS device
- Talking to passengers
- Turning to deal with kids/pets/etc. in the backseat.
- Messing with the radio
- Grooming in the mirror
- Searching for something in the vehicle
Distracted Driving and Bicyclists
Of all those susceptible to distracted driving accidents, bicyclists are often the most at risk. This is because they often share the road with motor vehicles, putting them in close contact. Unfortunately, though drivers are supposed to share the road with bicyclists, they do not always do so in a safe manner. And because cyclists are harder to see and have less protection surrounding them, they are more likely to get severely injured or killed when struck by a driver.
Common causes of bicycle-related motor vehicle accidents include:
- Lack of visibility
- A rider being in a driver’s blind spot
- Failure to yield the right-of-way, either by the driver or the cyclist
- Opening a car door in the path of a bicyclist
- Running a bicyclist off the road
- Sideswiping a bicycle rider
- Turning right or left in the path of a bicyclist
- Not maintaining a safe distance behind a cyclist
- Failing to follow safe passing bike laws
Indiana Bike Laws
Many states- including Indiana- have implemented laws to keep cyclists safe because of the increase in bicyclist accidents, especially those caused by distracted drivers. So it is important for drivers to understand these laws to avoid causing an accident.
One of the most important laws to follow is the “Safe Passing” law, which states that drivers are required to maintain a safe distance when passing a bicyclist. If safe passing is not an option, then the driver is required to stay behind the bicyclist until it is safe to do so. Unfortunately, many drivers get annoyed and frustrated when they have to share the road with a cyclist and will often pass when it is not safe to do so.
It is the law, however, for drivers to share the roadway with bicyclists. Bicycle riders have all the same rights and duties as motor vehicles on the road. So while drivers often think cyclists should have to move out of the way or ride on the sidewalk, it is actually the law for bicyclists to ride on the road on the far right of the lane unless they are making a turn. It is even legal for cyclists to occupy the full lane if needed to keep themselves visible.
If a cyclist is making a turn, they are supposed to indicate using their hands and arms as they move into the necessary lane, and drivers should allow them to do so just as they would when another car indicates they are getting over and making a turn. Bicyclists also must stop at stop signs like cars, and if the cyclist gets there first, they have the right of way to proceed.
Someone riding a bike must also stop at red lights. However, unlike cars, bicyclists can ride through a red light if the light has not changed for two minutes and it is safe for them to proceed. This is because bicycles do not weigh as much as cars and often struggle to trigger the weight sensors that cause the light to change.
Consult With an Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney
Distracted driving puts bicyclists at an increased risk, which is why it is crucial for drivers to stay alert at all times. It is also important for everyone to fully understand bike laws and how to safely share the road and yield the right of way.
If you have questions about an accident involving a bicyclist or if you were injured as a bicyclist by a motor vehicle, our legal team can assist you. At Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery, our Indianapolis personal injury attorneys we understand how devastating the result of a bicycle-related accident can be and are dedicated to helping our clients get the settlement they deserve to help pay for their damages.
Don’t hesitate — one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.