Vehicles and bicycles often operate in close proximity to one another, which can lead to precarious situations. Under Arizona law, bicycles are typically treated as vehicles themselves, with full rights to most roadways (excluding major highways). It is imperative that drivers safely share the roadway with bicyclists in a way that forms an almost symbiotic relationship. Here, we want to review some basic steps drivers can take to increase bicycling safety.
Bicycle Safety is Crucial For Reducing Roadway Injuries and Fatalities
Information available from the Arizona Department of Transportation indicates that there were more than 1,100 total bicycle crashes across the state reported to officials in 2021. In these incidents, 48 individuals lost their lives, and there were 1,128 reported injuries. Many of these injuries were severe.
Unfortunately, there is a significant risk of severe injuries for a bicyclist in the event a collision occurs between a vehicle and a cyclist. That is why it is of the utmost importance for all drivers in Arizona to safely share the roadway with bicycles.
First and foremost, this safety includes having patients with bicycles on the roadway. It is important for all drivers in Arizona to understand that bicycles are considered vehicles and, therefore, afforded the same rights on the roadway as any other vehicle.
Some other important tips recommended by an experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyer for drivers to remember include:
- Give bicycles at least three feet. Many state laws, including the law here in Arizona, require motorists to put at least three feet between their vehicle and the bicycle when passing the bicycle, even if a cyclist is in the bike lane. Drivers should increase the distance if they are operating faster than 25 mph or in inclement weather.
- Watch for blind spots. Because cyclists are much smaller than other vehicles, they can easily get caught up in a vehicle’s blind spot. We encourage all drivers to regularly check their blind spots, which they should be doing when they practice defensive driving.
- Know the hand signals. Drivers should know the hand signals that bicyclists are required to use when they want to turn, merge, or stop. We encourage all drivers to regularly reinforce their memory of these hand signals.
- Give the horn a rest. Using the horn to honk at a bicyclist is only going to make matters worse. A horn will be much louder for a bicycle rider than it is for drivers inside other vehicles, and this could startle the bicyclist and lead to an accident.
- Look out for kids. When children are on their bicycles, their riding behavior can be unpredictable. Any driver who sees children on bicycles in their vicinity should slow down and pay attention to their surroundings to avoid an accident.
What To Do If You Are Injured In a Bicycle Accident
If a bicyclist sustains an injury caused by the negligent actions of another driver on the roadway, they should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A Phoenix bicycle accident lawyer can be an advocate and help victims recover compensation for their losses. This could include coverage of their medical bills, lost income if they cannot work, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering damages.