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.
Our Risk Coaches™ are licensed insurance professionals who are trained to look at coverage from your perspective. They’re glad to help you navigate the often-perplexing world of insurance coverage. Contact your local Risk Coach professional or call us at 800.342.5342, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.