How Can Motorists Safely Share the Road With Bicyclists?
Many bicyclists who found it too bitterly cold here in Mississippi to take their bikes out for a ride during fall, winter, and leading into the early spring often do so as warmer months set in.
Memory lapses can sometimes set in anytime someone takes time off from doing something, and this same logic applies to safely operating a bicycle or sharing the road with bicyclists.
Motorists and bicyclists alike are responsible for doing their part to safely share the road with one another. Let’s look at what “doing one’s part” might entail.
Get To Know Mississippi Bicycle Laws
Both drivers and bikers can benefit from familiarizing themselves with Mississippi bicycle laws before taking to the road. Some of the most important ones to know include:
- Mississippi Code § 63-3-603: Limits bicyclists to riding at most side-by-side (known as using a two abreast formation) when traveling on the roadway unless it’s a specially designated area for bicyclists. Bicyclists must take reasonable precautions to avoid impeding the regular traffic flow and limit themselves to a single lane within a multilane roadway.
- Mississippi Code § 63-7-65: Prohibits the installation of a whistle or siren on a bicycle or its use by a bicyclist.
- Mississippi Code § 63-7-13: Requires that every bicycle have a white-hued front headlight and either a rear red light or reflex mirror reflector installed on it. Each of these head and tail lamps should have a reach of at least 500 feet.
- Mississippi Code § 63-3-207: Affords bicyclists traveling along a highway the same rights as motorists. This legislation also requires cyclists to exercise the same duties as motor vehicle operators, with the sole exception being when it wouldn’t make sense for the rules and regulations to apply to bicyclists.
- Senate Bill No. 3014: This legislation is also known as the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act. It requires motorists to leave at least three feet between themselves and a bicyclist when passing them. This bill also prohibits drivers from taunting, harassing, or intentionally throwing objects at bicyclists.
While these laws are in place to ensure drivers and bicyclists share the road with each other, many individuals aren’t well-versed about them.
When Are Bicyclists Vulnerable To Getting Hit?
There are a few situations in which motorists are most apt to strike a bicyclist, including when drivers:
- Attempt to pass bike riders
- Swerve to avoid a roadway hazard
- Open their doors without first checking for approaching bicyclists (“dooring” may result)
- Pull out of places, such as parking lots or driveways
Motorists also often strike bicyclists as they are making turns. Drivers turning right may cut in too close to the curb, crushing the bicyclist.
Motor vehicle operators may also lack visibility of a bicycle’s narrow frame among all the other stimuli that capture their attention as they approach an intersection, leaving them vulnerable to striking a cyclist while making a left turn.
How Can Drivers More Effectively Share the Road With Bike Riders?
Motorists can greatly minimize their chances of striking a bicyclist by respecting their right to share the road. Many motorists tend to think of bike riders as a nuisance. However, bikes are a mode of transportation just like their vehicles. Drivers can benefit from respecting bikers’ rights to get around safely just as much as drivers would expect the same treatment of fellow automobile operators.
Other approaches motorists can employ to keep bike riders safe include:
- Taking time to learn the hand signals bikers use (when preparing to make turns, for example)
- Being vigilant for bike riders as night falls
- Steering clear of any bike lanes
- Not tailgating bicyclists (they too need space)
Our car accident lawyer team at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC regularly has bicyclists reach out to us after they’ve been struck by a motorist who failed to employ the aforementioned safety measures that could have easily averted a crash.
What Can Bicyclists Do to Enhance Their Safety on the Road?
There are a few measures bike riders can employ to reduce their chances of becoming entangled in an auto accident. Some of these strategies include:
- Using helmets: Mississippi does not require bicyclists to wear helmets. However, U.S. Department of Transportation approved helmets can significantly improve bicyclists’ fates, such as reducing the incidence rate of traumatic brain injuries if a bike rider happens to be involved in an accident.
- Being deliberate about how one rides: Statistics show that at least 25% of auto-involved bike accidents happen when bicyclists are traveling against traffic instead of along with its flow.
- Steering clear of driver blind spots: While bicyclists have nothing separating them from the open air, drivers have the vehicle’s frame surrounding them. Each of its four pillars creates blind spots that may affect how well a driver can see objects, such as bicyclists, that surround them. Bicyclists can improve the chances that motorists will see them by moving about within their lanes and waving their arms to call attention to their presence.
- Remembering that drivers have limited attention spans: A driver’s attention is seldom focused just on operating the vehicle. Instead, they may be thinking about their next stop, what’s on the radio, their child in the back seat, or other things. Drivers can easily forget about bicyclists the longer the time elapses between when they first see them and then do so again. Bicyclists can benefit from exercising cautions when approaching and proceeding through intersections.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Following a Bike Accident?
Bicyclists often suffer broken bones and various injuries, including spinal cord, traumatic brain, neck, and internal organ damage, when struck by automobiles. These injuries can leave behind a lifetime of pain and functional impairments and even result in a cyclist’s premature death.
Someone who has been injured in such a traumatic way may also experience lingering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and require intensive mental health counseling as treatment.
Compensation that a car accident lawyer like ours at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC can help you recover can be instrumental in helping you get the best possible treatment for your injuries. Contact us to discuss whether liability is clear in your case. This is the first step to determining if you can recover compensation in your legal matter.