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Distracted Driver Dangers for Bicyclists

Bicyclists: Beware of Distracted Drivers

Cycling is a popular form of recreation, exercise, and transportation, especially in the summer months. Unfortunately, driver carelessness poses an ongoing threat to bicyclists throughout the Capital District.

One of the major causes of bicycle accidents is distracted driving. Although drivers have a responsibility to stay focused on the road and operate their vehicles safely, many put their safety and the safety of others in jeopardy by prioritizing other tasks while behind the wheel.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision with a distracted driver, please call (518) 463-7784 today for a free consultation. Dreyer Boyajian LLP serves clients in Albany, Saratoga Springs, Troy, Schenectady, and nearby areas of New York.

Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?

To drive safely, drivers must keep their eyes and minds on the road and their hands on the wheel. Distractions of any kind compromise the visual, cognitive, and manual skills drivers need to be safe.

The most serious form of distracted driving is using a cell phone behind the wheel. Texting, checking social media, and other activities on a mobile phone all compromise the ability to drive safely.

However, distractions behind the wheel can take many forms, including:

  • Talking on the phone (even with a hands-free device)
  • Conversing with passengers
  • Tending to animals or children in the car
  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup and other grooming
  • Reaching for objects in the passenger seat or back seat
  • Smoking
  • Changing radio stations, checking the GPS, and performing other actions on the car’s dashboard console

When any of these actions draw the driver’s attention from the road, the risk of an accident rises. This is true even if the distraction lasts for only a few seconds. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers can travel the length of a football field without looking at the road in the 5 seconds it takes to read or write a text message.

Why Bicyclists Are at Risk from Distracted Driving

Anyone in the vicinity of a distracted driver is in danger of a collision. However, bicyclists have a higher likelihood of severe injury in the event of an accident. This is due to several factors:

  • Reduced visibility: Although a distracted driver may look up in time and be able to avoid a car at the last second, bicyclists take up less of the road. In the moments immediately preceding a crash, the distracted driver may not see the cyclist until it’s too late.
  • Less protection: Wearing a helmet and other safety gear is crucial for the safety of all bicyclists. However, this equipment may provide limited protection in an accident with a motor vehicle, even at relatively slow speeds.
  • Lack of barriers: Designated bike lanes are designed to keep motor vehicle traffic separate from bicycles. Unfortunately, these paths are often separated visually but not physically. As a result, distracted drivers are unlikely to notice road markings and other features that indicate lanes specifically for cyclists. In addition, a distracted driver may over-correct or swerve to the side of the road and into a bike lane.

Bicyclists are also in danger even if they are not struck by a distracted driver. In a near-miss accident, for example, you may be forced off the road in order to avoid a vehicle that comes too close. Although in this case you were not struck by the vehicle, the distracted driver is still liable for your injuries.

Driver distractions can still be hazardous even if a vehicle isn’t moving. A driver who is talking on the phone, texting, or otherwise distracted may open the car door without checking for oncoming bicyclists. Open door accidents present a serious risk of injury.

How Bicyclists Can Avoid Distracted Driving Accidents

Drivers of motor vehicles have a responsibility to keep their eyes on the road. However, bicyclists can take additional steps to reduce the risk of an accident:

  1. Always wear a helmet. Only children 13 and younger are required by law to wear a helmet while cycling. However, wearing a helmet regardless of your age may reduce the risk of brain injury and other serious trauma in the event of an accident.
  2. Wear light-colored clothing. It’s important to stand out so drivers can see you clearly. Any time you’re on your bike, wear colorful clothes that are light in color. When biking at night, wear reflective gear to improve your visibility.
  3. Use lights and reflectors. In addition to reflective tape or clothing, installing a light on the front of your bike and a reflector on the back will make you easier to see after dark.
  4. Stick to designated bike paths. Not every street will have a bike lane. However, when you have the option, it is always best to separate yourself from traffic by traveling in a designated path.
  5. Watch your surroundings. If you see a vehicle drifting into other lanes, braking erratically, or disobeying traffic signals, the driver may be distracted. Maintain a safe distance to reduce the risk of a collision.

Although bicycle accidents can happen anywhere on the road, cyclists should pay special attention when traveling through an intersection. Intersections are the most common location for bike accidents.

Contact Our Bicycle Accident Lawyers Today

Distracted driving is an epidemic on roads throughout the Capital District. If you have been struck by a distracted driver while riding your bike, Dreyer Boyajian LLP will pursue the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. View our results to see previous verdicts and settlements we have achieved on behalf of our clients.

For a free case review, please call (518) 463-7784 or contact Dreyer Boyajian LLP online today. Our bicycle accident lawyers serve clients in Albany, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Troy, and nearby areas of New York.

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