Anyone watching the news these days will notice an apparent rise in bicycle accidents, more often than not involving a collision with a motor vehicle. As bicycling grows in popularity, this may seem nothing more than an inevitable consequence. But the attorneys at The Cartwright Law Firm have been seeing a rather disturbing trend associated with this rise in car/bicycle collisions. Few drivers of cars who strike and often kill bicyclists are ever prosecuted for these fully-preventable deaths.
Certainly in instances where alcohol, speeding, hit-and-run, or other factors that can be shown to be involved that may lead to charges often do so, but where no overtly obvious illegal behavior can be cited, there is seldom any consequence at all of a criminal nature. The only remaining avenue for resolution is through civil action, which may bring a stiff financial penalty against the driver’s insurance company, but little true justice from the perspective of the family and friends of the victim. So what can the public do to respond to this deadly increase?
The most important response should be to increase your awareness of pedestrians and bicyclists, and to slow down, especially in congested areas. And get off your phone! Talking on the phone or texting while driving greatly increases your risks for any kind of accidents, but especially in urban areas where more people than ever are walking or on bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and other non-motorized means of transport. Paying attention isn’t just about staying off those phones, however.
You also need to remain aware that bicycles and pedestrians have every legal right to share the roads, cross-walks, and basic transportation infrastructures, and that motorized vehicle use is a privilege, not a right. and you need to remain conscious of your legal responsibilities. Slow down, and share the road responsibly.
As for pedestrians and cyclists, remember – you may be in the right, but not paying attention may make you dead right. Always assume you are harder to see – make yourself as visible as possible by wearing brighter colors, using reflectors and lights, especially at night. Wearing black might be cool, but at night, it makes you invisible. If driver’s cannot see you, they have an increased potential to hit you. Ride defensively. And remember that as you have equal right to the roadway, you also have equal responsibility to follow traffic laws. Stop at red lights and stop signs. If you run a light and get hit, and a witness comes forward to affirm that fact, you have almost no defense legally.
The Cartwright Law Firm wants you to arrive safe, and ride aware. Let’s all work together to get those horrible numbers down to zero. Bicycle accidents can be prevented – do your part today.