Riding a bike is a popular form of exercise in Los Angeles. It is common to see cyclists on the roads year-round. Some are riding for fun, while others are commuting to a job, school, or around town in order to reduce their carbon footprint and enjoy time outside. That said, there are risks involved when a cyclist enters the road with cars and trucks that are larger and traveling faster than they are.
Every year, there are approximately 857 bicyclists killed and more than 450,000 injured in the United States. For this reason, it is helpful to know the common causes of these accidents and how to best avoid injuries when cycling. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident and believe another driver is at fault for your injuries, it is advisable to contact a bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What are the most common causes of bicycle crashes?
Common accidents caused by drivers
Understanding that thirty percent of all bicycle injuries are caused by motor vehicles is alarming, and it can be helpful to recognize the most common causes of collisions. These include, but are not limited to:
- Distracted drivers: Drivers whose attention is on something other than the road are a huge risk to cyclists and are more likely to cause an accident because they often do not notice a cyclist who is sharing the road with them.
- Dooring accidents: The term “dooring” refers to when a driver parks and then opens their car door along the road without looking. Cyclists traveling full-speed often do not have time to react before crashing into an open car door. This can result in a serious injury for the person riding their bicycle.
- Right hook crashes: When a driver attempts to make a right turn, but does not check for an oncoming cyclist in the bike lane, a right hook crash can occur. This is a dangerous situation and gives little-to-no time for a cyclist to respond, often resulting in a serious accident.
- Aggressive driving accidents: Road rage is a serious danger for cyclists who share the roads with aggressive drivers. When a driver becomes impatient around a bicycle that is moving slower than they are, a dangerous accident can happen.
- Rear-end accidents: Most of the time, bicycles are moving in the same direction as the rest of the traffic. When a cyclist stops at a red light, they have no control over the behavior of the traffic behind them, putting them at the risk of getting hit in a rear-end accident.
- Blind spots: Unfortunately, a lot of drivers do not pay attention to their blind spots when changing lanes or making a turn. Because bicycles are smaller, they are often easier to miss than larger vehicles.
Maintain awareness to avoid accidents
Some accidents are unavoidable for a cyclist. That said, in many cases, having a sense of awareness can help to prevent a serious bicycle accident and, therefore, help to avoid injuries, as well.
- Avoid distractions. Cyclists who limit their distractions will have more awareness of their surroundings and are more likely to avoid a serious accident.
- Wear a helmet. There is no excuse not to wear a helmet, especially with all of the information that we have on how a helmet can reduce a cyclist’s risk of head and brain injuries. Wearing a helmet can be the difference between an injury and a fatality.
- Do not ride a bike after drinking. It is commonly thought that riding a bike while intoxicated is safer than driving. While drinking and driving is both unsafe and illegal, it is important to note that 37 percent of bicycle crashes involved alcohol in recent years.
- Avoid riding at night. Most fatal bicycle accidents occur between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. If you can avoid riding at night, this can help to reduce your risk of being involved in an accident.
- Wear visible clothing. Because bicycles are smaller than most motor vehicles, it is often more difficult to see them on the roads. For this reason, it is important to be as visible as possible, and wearing brightly colored clothes can help. This is especially important if you must ride your bike at night.
Road hazards to watch out for
Bicycles are considered more vulnerable compared to heavy vehicles such as cars or trucks as they have less protection in case of a collision. In addition, they are also more susceptible to road hazards. Furthermore, bicycles are also less visible to drivers of heavy vehicles, which can increase the risk of an accident. These factors combined make it more likely for a bicycle to be involved in a crash when encountering dangerous road conditions, compared to a heavier vehicle. Some of the hazards to watch out for include:
- Large cracks in the road
- Sewer grates
- Bike lanes that are faded
- Sand or gravel on the road
- Train tracks
- Poorly lit roads
Contact a bicycle accident attorney in Los Angeles today
What are the most common causes of bicycle crashes—and how can you avoid them?
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