May is National Bike Safety Month and the goal of the month is to raise awareness of bicycle riders and to make the streets safer for bicyclists. National Bike Safety Month consists of events such as a ride-to-work and ride-to-school days in order to make drivers more alert to the presence of bicycle riders and to encourage safe riding. Other aspects of National Bike Safety Month include educational campaigns such as DOT’s Roll Models to provide bike safety advice to both riders and drivers.
Our Auburn accident attorneys know that reducing the risk of bicycle accidents is always an important issue not just during National Bike Safety Monthm but throughout the summer months. This is especially true in Alabama, which the Detroit Free Press recently reported ranks 49th out of 50 states in terms of being bike friendly. Alabama has a lot of work to do to improve things for bicycle riders as the second-worst state in the U.S. and National Bike Safety Month is a good time to get started on improving bicycle safety.
Tips for Drivers to Protect Bike Riders
Bike riders can wear helmets, make eye contact with drivers and use hand signals in order to reduce the risk of becoming involved in an accident. Unfortunately, the efforts of bicycle riders can only go so far in avoiding crashes. There are more drivers of motor vehicles who are responsible for causing collisions. This means that unless the drivers of cars are aware of bicycle riders, know the risks of bicycle accidents and know how to share the road safely with riders, many preventable bicycle accidents are going to occur. Over the summer months when more people are out riding, the number of bicycle accidents will also increase unless drivers take steps to improve safety.
Drivers can do a lot to try to make the roads safe for riders and many of the steps that drivers can take to improve conditions for bicyclists are very simple. For example, drivers can make Alabama a better place for bike riders by:
- Understanding that bikes need to be treated the same as any other vehicle on the road. Bicycles have both the same rights and the same responsibilities.
- Avoiding crowding bicycle riders. When there are bike lanes, drivers should be sure to respect the lanes and leave bike riders their space. If there are no bike lanes, riders should be aware of bicycle riders sharing the road and should avoid getting too close.
- Yielding the right-of-way to bicycle riders when traffic signals or road safety rules require them to do so. Again, bikes are treated like cars so if you’d give a car the right-of-way, you need to do the same for a bicyclist.
- Watching out for “dooring,” which occurs when a driver opens a door up right into the path of an oncoming bicycle. This, obviously, should be avoided so a collision doesn’t occur.
- Paying attention while driving. If drivers simply pay attention, avoid distractions, don’t drive drunk and don’t drive when falling asleep, this will make things a lot safer for bicycle riders.
Drivers, in other words, need to use reasonable caution behind the wheel and need to be aware that bicycle riders have just as much right to be on the roads. This will make Alabama a much more bike friendly state.
If you have been injured in an Alabama traffic accident, contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE.