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Washington Bike Accident Attorney

The Most Common Bicycle Accidents (And How to Avoid Them)

Bicycle accidents can occur in the blink of an eye, especially if you bike inattentively. When you bike, you must pay close attention to the road around you and not rely on other drivers to take care of you on the road, particularly since many drivers completely fail to notice a bicycle’s smaller profile. Are you aware of the most common types of bicycle accidents and, just as importantly, how to avoid them on the road?

1. Left Hook Accidents

In a left hook accident, a vehicle makes a left turn without yielding to a bicycle crossing alongside it. Often, drivers completely fail to notice a bicycle’s smaller size. Drivers’ brains tend to focus on the presence of larger passenger vehicles around them. A bicycle’s smaller size does not fit that profile, which can increase the risk of a left hook accident. Bike riders often also ride in spaces that cars do not usually occupy. A driver may stop to check for vehicles in places it expects those vehicles to drive, but fail to think through the possible presence of another vehicle.

How to Avoid a Left Hook Accident

While you cannot control the behavior of drivers on the road, you can control your own actions as a bicyclist. If you need to cross an intersection, make sure you pay close attention to the other vehicles around you. Avoid crossing an intersection without making sure a turning vehicle notices you. If necessary, wait for the vehicle to complete its turn before proceeding through the intersection.

2. Open Door Accidents

Some bike riders choose to ride on the sidewalk or to skirt close to the edge of traffic, especially if they want to avoid an accident. Unfortunately, as the bike rider, you may not notice that a driver or passenger in a vehicle plans to open their door until it opens into you.

In a vehicle, a door-opening accident usually causes relatively little injury, at least to the people in the other vehicle. A bicycle rider, on the other hand, may suffer serious injury.

How to Avoid Open Door Accidents

Pay attention to the vehicles around you. If you notice passengers remaining in a vehicle, consider giving it a wide berth. You should also carefully consider where you ride your bike to minimize the risk of serious injury.

3. Getting Clipped by a Driver

Some bicycle riders prefer riding on the road. You may need to use the road to get to your destination: for example, you bike to work each day, and the road offers the only way to get there. Others may prefer riding on the road to riding in parks or other safe locations. Traveling close to traffic, even with a bike lane, can lead to getting clipped by a driver. At high rates of speed, even a minor accident can cause serious injury. The closer you ride to traffic, the greater your likelihood of getting clipped by a driver as he speeds around you.

How to Avoid Getting Clipped by a Driver

The closer you ride to the road, the greater your likelihood of getting clipped by another driver. Where possible, use bike lanes. Try to stay on the inside of the lane, away from other traffic, whenever possible. If you must share the road with motor vehicles, pay attention to the flow of traffic around you. Like a slow-moving motor vehicle, you should plan to get off the road if you notice cars backing up behind you. You may also want to consider using bike trails or alternative routes.

4. Ignoring the Rules of the Road

The rules of the road exist to help prevent accidents. Stop signs, red lights, and speed limits help control the flow of traffic and increase the odds that everyone will reach their destination safely. Drivers who ignore the rules of the road substantially raise their accident risk.

So do bicyclists who do not follow the rules of the road.

How to Avoid an Accident Due to Ignoring the Rules of the Road

You cannot prevent the actions of another driver: one that gets frustrated with your presence and tries to speed by you, for example. You can, however, control your adherence to the rules of the road. As a cyclist, you must follow the same rules as motor vehicles when it comes to red lights and stop signs, and you must adhere to the posted speed limit, even if you can travel faster than that limit.

If you notice another driver ignoring the rules of the road, get out of the way. Wearing a helmet and other vital protective gear may decrease your risk of severe injury in a bicycle accident, but it does not eliminate it. Your bicycle offers relatively little protection from a motor vehicle, so take precautions. If you have to stop or take another route, it may interfere with your time or make you late, but it may also help prevent you from suffering a serious accident.

5. Following Too Closely

When you share the road with motor vehicles, some cars will drive very close to you. Their drivers may want to get you off the road or try to get you out of the way. Unfortunately, tailgating leaves both you and the driver with fewer options when it comes to avoiding an accident.

How to Avoid a Tailgating Accident on a Bicycle

If you notice a driver getting too close to you, avoid the urge to simply pour on more speed. A motor vehicle can always travel faster than you can, even at your best rate of speed. Instead, get out of the way. Move off of the road and allow the car to go around you.

Bicycle accidents can happen to even the safest cyclists, especially when you share the road with motor vehicles. If you suffer serious injuries in a cycling accident, contact an experienced bike accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible.