These days, cars share Missouri’s roads with many other vehicles. Motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles are a common site along our roadways. Unfortunately, these vehicles provide less protection, and cyclists who are hit by cars can be seriously injured or killed. In 2014, 720 cyclists were killed by traffic accidents, and many more were injured. For drivers, there are a few simple practices that can help keep everyone safe on the road. Our Kansas City bicycle accident lawyer explains what you need to know.
Respect Bike Lanes
Bike lanes are designated for use by bicycles. While this may seem obvious, it means that cars cannot drive in these lane and must yield to cyclists there. Cars may only drive in bicycle lanes when they need to cross the lane to turn or when entering or departing the thoroughfare. When you are driving on a road with a bicycle lane, check for cyclists, and respect their space.
Some drivers may become impatient with a cyclist’s slower speed and wish to pass the cyclist. The faster you are driving as you pass, however, the more likely that an accidental collision will be fatal. By slowing down just ten miles per hour while passing cyclists, you could significantly increase the rider’s survival odds if something goes wrong and you accidentally hit him or her.
Allow Plenty of Space
Even if you think you have enough room to safely pass a cyclist, always overestimate. Bikes are lightweight and can easily be blown sideways into a passing car. Debris in the road can also cause a cyclist to veer unexpectedly, resulting in an auto collision with a bicycle. Missouri law requires that all drivers keep a safe distance between their vehicle and a bicycle for as long as it takes to safely pass the bicycle.
Don’t Text and Drive
One of the most important ways drivers can help assure everyone’s safety is to pay attention to the road. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and can have particularly serious consequences for cyclists. When drivers are not aware of a cyclist’s location on the road, they cannot keep a safe distance from the cyclist, and they may accidentally hit him or her. Texting while driving is a serious problem. The CDC estimates that distracted drivers kill more than 3,000 people every year and injure more than 400,000. Avoid the temptation to pick up your smartphone while you drive.
Pay Extra Attention at Intersections
According to the Missouri Department of Revenue, the majority of bicycle-involved collisions occur at intersections. When approaching intersections, drivers should take extra care to look for cyclists. Remember, cyclists have the same right-of-way as cars and should be allowed to proceed through intersections accordingly.
Check for Cyclists Before Opening Your Car Door
Opening a door into a passing bicycle can cause serious injury or even death to the rider. If a cyclist is passing at a high speed, he or she may not be able to stop in time to avoid running into your door. Take care to check for cyclists before you throw open your car door, especially when you are parked next to a bike lane or path.
What Can Cyclists Do to Ride More Safely?
While drivers are responsible for keeping roads safe for cyclists, there are several ways that cyclists can protect themselves and others. To allow enough space for other vehicles to pass, cyclists should always ride single file. Just as cars must use turn signals, cyclists should use hand signals to show other vehicles where they are going. Cyclists should also follow all traffic laws, taking extra care to obey traffic signals and other directions.