The number of cyclists on the road is on the rise. More Americans are taking their bikes to work or simply enjoying a newfound pastime. As these eco-conscious and workout-minded individuals add to the number of people on the road, it comes as no surprise that more and more accidents take place each year.
Bicyclists involved in motor vehicle accidents result in thousands of injuries, with hundreds of those incidents ending in death. In fact, cyclists constituted 3% of all fatal crashes in the state of Illinois alone during 2013. Those statistics are mirrored across the country. If you don’t want to become one of those statistics, then here are three ways you can prevent an accident.
Obey Your Local Traffic Laws
While it might not seem like it, bicycles are considered a vehicle just like a sedan or an SUV. As the operator of that vehicle, you must abide by the same laws as everyone else on the road. Those rules are in place for good reason, too.
Most accidents occur when cyclists make illegal turns, ride against traffic, or weave in-between stopped cars. Familiarizing yourself with traffic laws pertaining to bicycles is one of the best ways to avoid injury.
Part of following those laws includes proper signaling. While bikes don’t have turn signals, cyclists can use their arms to alert other drivers of their next move. Extending your left arm signals a left turn, while doing the opposite signals a right turn. Holding your left arm out and down lets other drivers know you’re coming to a stop.
Stick to Your Lane
In some places, you have the advantage of using a designated bicycle lane. That isn’t always the case, though. Moving into motor vehicle lanes requires cyclists to increase their awareness of other cars around them.
To avoid an accident, stick to the right-hand side of the road and stay as far out of the lane as possible. Always go with the flow of traffic, allowing approaching cars to spot you long before they are in your vicinity. The goal is to make it simple for cars to pass you.
At the same time, you want to be extra careful around parked cars. It isn’t uncommon for a driver to open their door and hit an oncoming cyclist. Finally, you should always swerve away from traffic when avoiding an obstacle like a pothole.
Use Your Reflectors
It isn’t always easy for drivers to spot a bicycle on the road, but that task becomes near impossible at night without reflectors. If you have to bike at night, make sure your bicycle is clearly visible in the dark. Wearing reflective clothing also helps maintain your visibility.
Even with these safety tips in mind, accidents do happen. If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney to help fight your case. You have the right to compensation if you are injured by another driver’s negligence.