Bicycle accidents are a major problem in Florida, Tampa included. In fact, Hillsborough County consistently ranks in the top 10 counties for bicycle fatalities. Statistics show bicycle accidents peak during the winter months (January specifically) and decline during summer, likely because many find it too hot to ride in the August heat. Because we are currently experiencing the peak of this annual epidemic, it is important to focus on ways to safely share the road.
Sharing the Road Safely
To share the road safely, both motorists and cyclists should know more about traffic law. When on the road, bicycles are considered vehicles and riders are expected to abide by traffic law. Here are a couple of important components that can better help motorists and cyclists safely share the road.
Bicycles are Vehicles
Florida law treats bicycles as vehicles, as such they have as much right to be on the road as a car. In addition, bicycles must follow the same traffic rules. Bicyclists are expected to ride on the right side of the road, close to the curb. When it is unsafe to do so, bicyclists can legally ride in the middle of the road and use the whole lane. This is meant to discourage motorists from passing a cyclist. It’s important for motorists to understand that it is within a cyclists rights to do this.
Lights at Night
Too many accidents happen because motorists don’t see cyclists until it’s too late. That’s part of the reason that cyclists must affix lights to their bikes if they ride in the dark. The law does not state a preference for a strobing or steady light, both of which or popular options, but makes it clear that reflectors are not enough.
The Word on Helmets
Cyclists should wear always wear a helmet. Helmets save lives and reduce the chances of traumatic brain injury. Current law only requires that cyclists under 16 wear a helmet. While adults are not required to wear helmets, it is recommended and all evidence points to their ability to save lives.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
While we might like to think that snowbirds are a cause of bicycle accidents, that is not the case. Most drivers involved in Florida bicycle accidents are residents of the state. Others may want to blame the cyclists themselves, however, rarely do cyclists cause an accident (though they do make the bottom of the list). The first two causes listed below account for the majority of traffic accidents, while the third is rarer.
Car Driver Failed to Yield
Bicycles have a right to be on the road. Too many drivers get frustrated, nervous, or angry when faced with a bicycle in the road. This can lead to poor driving, reckless maneuvers, and other aggressive behaviors like speeding and driving too close to the bicycle. The most common cause of bicycle accidents is a motorist failing to yield.
There’s a lot going on inside of motor vehicles these days. Not only are drivers eating and changing radio stations, but they may also be talking on the phone, setting a GPS, or checking text messages. A careless or distracted driver endangers everyone around them—including the passengers in their own car.
Cyclist Ran Stop Sign
Much further down on the list of bicycle accidents causes is a failure by cyclists to follow traffic laws, and specifically, running stop signs or red lights. A cyclist who fails to stop and obey traffic signals is endangering their own life. Oncoming traffic not only has the right of way in this situation, but they may not be able to stop in time.
Consulting with a Tampa Bicycle Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident, speaking with a Tampa bicycle accident lawyer can help you better understand your legal options. A bicycle accident can have devastating consequences. If you’ve experience severe injuries, you may be eligible to receive compensation to help offset the costs of medical care and lost wages.
Too often, Florida cyclists are injured by negligent drivers. If you’re a victim of a careless driver, it’s time to speak with Winters & Yonker, the aggressive personal injury attorneys. We fight for our clients in order to get them the compensation they deserve. Focus on healing and recovering from your injuries, we’ll focus on successfully trying your case. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, it’s important to act quickly because of Florida’s statute of limitations. Call us today for a free case review and learn more about what we can do for you.
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