Automobiles and bicyclists collide on an almost daily basis. This accident is often very serious or fatal for the bicyclist because of their relative lack of protect against a much larger vehicle. Although only 29 percent of all bicycle accidents involve another vehicle, these accidents result in the most serious injuries.
Bicyclists are at the most risk of injury around intersections, which is generally a very short portion of their travel. Approximately 45 percent of accidents with vehicles occur at intersections. Other accidents that may not be at an intersection include:
- Being brushed by a passing vehicle
- Hitting the opening door of a parked car
- Sudden stops or starts that affect the cyclist
- Cars that are backing out of driveways or exiting parking lots
Auto vs. Bicycle Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 743 bicyclists killed in collisions that involved cars in 2013. That means that just over two people on bicycles die in auto accidents every day. California, Florida, and Texas have the highest number of bicycle deaths.
The number of bicyclists deaths is concerning because this is the highest number the United States has had since 2006. It was just over 2 percent of all people killed and injured in traffic accidents in 2012.
Although the occurrence of death increased, the number of injuries involving cars dropped in 2013 to 48,000, a 1,000-injury decrease from 2012. Most years see roughly 50,000 auto verses bicycle accidents. The total cost of bicyclist injuries and death is roughly $4 billion according to the National Safety Council.
Florida Bicycle Laws
In Florida, the law considers the bicyclist a driver and the bicycle his or her vehicle. That means that they, like other cars and trucks, must obey the rules of the road. That also means that they have the same rights as other vehicles on the road.
Below are few highlights from Florida bicycle law that may be helpful to both bicyclists and other drivers:
- A bicyclist must obey all traffic controls and signs.
- When the bike is on a sidewalk, the bicyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian. However, they must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
- Bicycles must have a front lamp and a red reflector on the rear for night time driving. Additional lighting is both permitted and recommended.
- If the bicyclist is not traveling at the same rate of speed as the other traffic, then he or she should ride in the designated bike lane, if available.
- A bicyclist is not allowed to wear a headset or other listening device (other than a hearing aid) while riding their bike.
Legal Liability in Auto vs. Bicycle Accidents
Although some people assume that the car is always at fault in an automobile verses bicycle accident situation, this is not always the case. Because the bicyclist is required to follow the rules of the road, if he or she was violating any of those rules then he or she could be at fault as well.
If the accident occurred somewhere other than at an intersection, the car is generally more likely to be liable. However, if the accident occurred at an intersection, then liability will depend on who had the right-of-way in that particular situation.
To help you determine who is at fault, keep these common right-of-way rules in mind:
- If there is no traffic signal or just a four-way stop sign, then the first vehicle to arrive at the intersection has the right-of-way.
- If the bicyclist is traveling on the sidewalk, then he or she should remain in the crosswalk to cross the street.
- Just like a vehicle, the bicyclist must stop at stop signs and use turning signals.
Cars should treat bicyclists as if they are another car, yielding to them when appropriate. Practice defensive driving and stay alert to avoid an accident with a bicyclist.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a car or bicycle, contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact Fetterman & Associates, PA to get help. Call 561-845-2510 for a free case evaluation.
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