3 Tips for Safe Driving Around Bicycles
As drivers, we’re very conscious of other cars and trucks when we’re behind the wheel. But we’re not always as alert to another group who shares the road with us – bicyclists. There are several hundred fatal accidents involving bikes and cars annually – and many more resulting in severe injuries. Here are a few things to know and do in order to avoid an accident when you’re driving.
What to Know About Car versus Bicycle Accidents
- Seventy-five percent of bicycle/motor vehicle fatalities are in urban areas. Be especially alert because congestion, construction, and distractions in a busy environment can make it hard to spot a fast-moving bicyclist.
- The average age of fatally injured bicyclists is 47. Don’t subconsciously let down your guard because the rider is an adult.
- Only 27% of fatal crashes happen at an intersection. Looking before you proceed at an intersection is second nature. Make sure to stay alert once you have pulled out – 63% of fatalities happen on the road away from intersections.
- Allow at least three feet of space when you pass a bicyclist. Allow more space if you are driving a large vehicle with extended mirrors or are towing a trailer.
- Learn a new habit: the “Dutch Reach.” Bicycling is a big part of the culture in the Netherlands, and the Dutch developed a technique that helps avoid injuries caused by “dooring.” Dooring refers to accidents that happen when a driver opens the car door directly in the path of a bicyclist, who crashes into the door and may be badly injured as a result. The Dutch Reach is a simple technique whereby you simply reach across your body to open the door with your right hand. This action requires you to turn your head – automatically allowing you to look in the side mirror and over your shoulder.
- Look twice before turning right. A bicyclist you passed could catch up when you slow down to take the turn and run into you when you turn. A quick glance behind you could prevent an accident.
Bicyclists usually come off worse than drivers when they’re in an accident with a motor vehicle. A bicyclist whom you accidently injure may incur major medical bills for which you could be held liable. Avoiding distracted driving; staying aware of these smaller, hard-to-see vehicles; and adopting new awareness habits are keys to avoiding injuries and fatalities.
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