What are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?

News » What are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?

Bicycle accidents happen more often than you'd think and are often more serious than one would anticipate. Severe injuries and even death can result from bike accidents, so it's important to be aware of all situations that can lead to cycling accidents, no matter if you are a motor vehicle operator or a cyclist.

Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle accidents happen in a variety of ways and can be incredibly dangerous at any speed. It's important that cyclists wear sufficient protective gear and a helmet at all times, and also wear reflective gear and use lights when riding at night.

Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents are listed below.

Collisions with Motor Vehicles

Most bike accidents occur as a result of collision with a motor vehicle. In many instances, it's clear that accidents are not caused by cyclists, but result when car drivers fail to follow traffic laws involving cyclists.

It's up to both drivers and cyclists to avoid accidents, but since drivers have more power and physical authority on the road, they are expected to be more responsible when approaching cyclists.

When is a Car responsible for a Bicycle Accident?

These are some situations in which motor vehicles are typically responsible for bike accidents:

  • Speeding (another main cause of traffic crashes).
  • Poor visibility, especially during nighttime hours.
  • Merging lanes with a cyclist in their blind spot.
  • Failure to yield at stop signs or a red traffic light.
  • Failure to yield to oncoming bicycles at an intersection.
  • Distracted driving, especially on busy streets where cyclists are sharing traffic lanes with drivers (also a major cause of auto accidents).
  • Driver fatigue or drivers not paying attention on less busy roads where cyclists are riding on the shoulder.
  • Not properly sharing traffic lanes, or entering a bike lane to make a turn.
  • "Dooring accidents", when a parked driver opens their door into a passing cyclist.

Hit-and-Run Incidents

Too often, a bicycle accident turns into a hit-and-run incident when the driver flees the scene.

If you are involved in a hit-and-run bicycle accident, call 911 immediately, seek medical care, and file a police report. To the best of your ability, try to remember details of the scene such as the make and model of the car, and also do your best to gather witness information.

Numerous bicycle deaths over the past few years have tragically been hit-and-run incidents. 26.3% of bicycle accident deaths were hit-and-run incidents in 2020.

Rider Error

Bicycle riders are as prone to mistakes as drivers are. Severe risks are posed to cyclists if they make an error on roadways shared with cars.

Rider error in an accident can be both by accident and by negligent behavior.

When can a Cyclist be at Fault for a Bike Accident with a Car?

Cyclists can be at fault for bike accidents and not following the rules of the road. Cyclists are expected to ride responsibly and take all necessary safety precautions when riding alongside motor vehicles.

These are some situations in which cyclists are typically responsible for bike accidents with cars:

  • Riding into oncoming traffic and weaving between cars. It's incredibly difficult for drivers to anticipate the actions of an oncoming cyclist.
  • Failing to use a stop sign or running red lights. The same rules for traffic signals apply to both cyclists and vehicles.
  • Using the roadway when bike lanes are available, putting themselves into blind spots.

Road Conditions and Infrastructure

Potholes, cracks, debris, poor lighting, and faded lane indication paint can potentially lead to bicycle crashes.

Infrastructure issues are underlying and common causes of bicycle accidents, forcing cyclists to swerve and fall, increasing the risk of getting hit by a car.

Poor lighting also puts cyclists at risk. Riders should always wear reflective or bright clothing and ride in well-lit areas at night.

When cyclists don't have dedicated bicycle lanes, they are forced to share the road with other vehicles that are much larger and faster than them.

A dedicated and safe bike path, traveling in the same direction as motorists, is a proven way to prevent accidents and avoid collisions. Many drivers complain of cyclists getting in their way and slowing down the flow of traffic, but cyclists have nowhere else to go most times.

Equipment Failure

Equipment failure is among the most common causes of bicycle accidents. Always check your bicycle for wear-and-tear and make sure it's properly functioning before riding.

The failure of these bike parts are the most likely to cause an accident:

  • Brakes
  • Wheels and tires
  • Chain and drivetrain
  • Pedals and clips

Stats and Facts on Bike Accidents

Cars are responsible for most fatal accidents. 846 people died in fatal bicycle accidents with motor vehicles in 2019 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Also according to the NHTSA, there were an estimated 49,000 traffic-related bicycle accident injuries in 2019.

The number of fatal bicycling accidents decreased by 20% to 675 in 2020, but the rate of car traffic was down 13.2% as well due to the pandemic.

Where do Bike Accidents Occur?

Cycling accidents can happen anywhere, but most bike accidents occur on major and arterial roads (65%), away from intersections (65%), and in urban areas (78%).

The most deadly bicycle accidents in the past decade have happened in Florida, specifically Miami Dade County. Other states with high rates of bicycle accidents include California, Texas, and New York.

Cities where it is statistically safest to ride a bike include Davis (CA), Berkeley (CA), Boulder (CO), Eugene (OR), and Palo Alto (CA).

When do Bike Accidents Occur?

In 2019, over 60% of fatal bicycle accidents occurred in the early morning and in the evening. Poor visibility leads to accidents, and when riders don't wear reflective gear, streets don't have proper lighting, and drivers are unaware of cyclists more deadly accidents can occur.

Injuries Resulting from Bicycle Accidents

A bicycle accident can affect someone's quality of life greatly.

When riding a bike, always wear a helmet, make sure your equipment is working properly, and take all necessary safety precautions when choosing your route.

Below are some common injuries suffered in a bicycle accident:

  • Head injuries including concussion, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injury.
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Scratches, scrapes, and bruising
  • Back or spinal cord injury
  • Facial or dental injuries

If you're involved in a bicycle accident, seek medical care immediately for your injuries.

Seeking Financial Compensation for a Bike Accident

Injured bicyclists may be able to seek compensation through a lawsuit. Hiring a bicycle accident attorney from a personal injury law firm may be your next step after seeking medical care.

Seeking medical care can help diagnose issues early, and if you seek compensation through a lawsuit, your personal injury attorney will need medical records to build a case for financial recovery, so it's important to keep track of all costs and damage sustained after a bike accident.

Contact a personal injury near you for a free legal consultation for your bicycle accident case.

https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicycle-safety

https://www.outsideonline.com/2409749/outside-cycling-deaths-2020/

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel_monitoring/20dectvt/page2.cfm

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/bicyclists

https://www.wftv.com/news/local/florida-remains-most-dangerous-place-america-bicyclists-pedestrians-new-data-shows/URLWVNTIDFB7ZJVW2KC5GS43BA/

https://www.idrivesafely.com/defensive-driving/trending/5-bestand-worstcities-bike-safety

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/bicyclists

 

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