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Right turns hazardous for bicyclists

High numbers of people are taking up cycling and residents of the Bay Area are embracing the cycling movement as well. Whether for commuting, daily exercise or just for fun, bicyclists can increasingly be found on sidewalks and roadways. Sadly, bicycle fatalities are also rising.


Surprising statistics

While you may think a bicycling accident will not happen to you, statistics indicate otherwise. California leads the nation in bicyclist fatalities, according to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In California, bicyclist fatalities represent 4.7 percent of the total traffic fatalities. For comparison, the national rate of bicycle fatalities is 2.3 percent. In the Bay Area, bicyclist fatalities accounted for over 10 percent of all traffic deaths. Vehicles were involved in 29 percent of the deaths.

Right turn accidents

The most common bicycle verses vehicle collision happens when a driver is attempting to make a right hand turn. The three scenarios listed below make up most right turn accidents.

  • Red light collision: In this scenario, both a bicyclist and a driver are waiting at a red light. When the light turns green the bicyclist rides straight through the intersection, but the vehicle turns right and collides with the cyclist. Drivers frequently fail to signal their turns so bicyclists should enter intersections cautiously.
  • Passing collision: These collisions occur when a cyclist is approaching an area where right hand turns are allowed and passes a slow moving car on the right hand side. The car suddenly turns right without warning and collides with the cyclist. Check your mirrors before entering an intersection.
  • High speed turns: In these instances, a vehicle is approaching an intersection and traveling faster than a cyclist. The vehicle turns without warning and the cyclist crashes into the side of the vehicle. Bicyclists are allowed to take the lane so they are more visible to motorists.

Remember, bicyclists are considered motor vehicle operators and need to follow all traffic rules, just like when driving a car. Drivers are supposed to share the road with cyclists, but increasing negligence is cause for concern. Motorists owe a duty of care to everyone on the road, including bicyclists. If that duty was breached and resulted in an injury, consider making a personal injury claim.

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