Now more than ever, New Jersey residents are using their bicycles as a mode of transportation to and from work and school. Environmental factors and cost-effective transportation benefits are encouraging people to take to the roads on their bikes. Unfortunately, this healthy activity can also be dangerous.
There were 58 fatal bicycle accidents reported in the state of New Jersey from 2010 through 2013. An alarming 27 percent of all motor vehicle accidents in the state during 2016 involved bicyclists and pedestrians. According to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, New Jersey has one of the highest bicycle fatality rates in the country.
The majority of bike accidents happen at intersections. A bicycle rider must be vigilant in taking precautions and being aware of their surroundings at all times. Many drivers fail to realize that bicyclists have the same rights to travel on the roadways as cars do, and are also responsible for following the same rules of the road.
When it comes to intersections, drivers of cars and trucks often rely on the cyclist to avoid colliding with them. When drivers fail to yield to the right of way for a cyclist, or fails to follow the rules of the road by obeying traffic signals, or is not maintaining a safe speed, serious and often fatal bicycle accidents can occur.
A “left-cross” accident happens when a driver and cyclist come into an intersection from opposite directions. As a driver pulls into the intersection and attempts to make a left turn, they collide with the cyclist to their right. In this type of accident, the driver of the car is most often at fault.
The “right hook” is another type of intersection collision. This type of accident happens at intersections with traffic lights. When a signal changes from red to green, the car makes the right hand turn as the bicyclist proceeds into the intersection, hitting the cyclist. This can also occur when the biker passes a car on the right, and the car hits the bike as it makes a right turn. In the majority of these accidents, the driver of the motor vehicle is held liable.
Accidents caused by distracted drivers, drowsy drivers, and those driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the most preventable accidents. For example, drivers that engage in texting or cell phone use, those that drive when they are fatigued, and those that choose to drive after drinking alcohol or taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs can cause devastating collisions. Serious and often fatal injuries can occur in these types of accidents.
Cyclists can take precautions to protect themselves from these types of collisions. First and foremost, a cyclist and their bike should be as visible as possible. Reflective clothing, lights on bicycles, and helmets can help drivers see a bicyclist more readily. Cyclists should slow down when approaching intersections, and be aware of cars in front, behind, and beside them on the left and the right. Bicycles should also be walked across a crosswalk to avoid startling an unsuspecting driver. Finally, cyclists should ride with the flow of traffic, never against it.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, contact the experienced team of New Jersey bicycle accident lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP at 732-777-0100 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Red Bank, Toms River, and Edison, New Jersey and serve clients throughout New Jersey.