As the weather warms up in Illinois, many people are preparing for summer and making plans to spend more time outdoors. For many, summer activities include bicycling. However, bicyclists will often need to spend time on the road, and riding near large and fast-moving vehicles can sometimes be dangerous. When drivers fail to follow the correct traffic laws or do not act safely when driving near bicyclists, dangerous bicycle accidents can occur. By understanding the laws that apply to motor vehicles and bicycles, bicyclists can determine when these accidents were caused by driver negligence, and they may be able to pursue financial compensation from a driver who injured them.
Traffic Laws Drivers Must Follow When Sharing the Road With Bicycles
To prevent bicycle accidents, drivers are required to:
- Pass bicycles safely – Bicycles must be treated the same as other vehicles, and bicyclists are allowed to travel in a lane of traffic while following the same rules that apply to drivers of motor vehicles. When passing a bicycle, drivers must allow at least three feet of space. Because most lanes are too narrow to allow this much space, drivers will usually need to fully or partially change lanes when passing a bicycle, and they will need to pay attention to traffic to make sure it is safe to do so.
- Avoid distracted driving – Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents involve distractions that affect a driver’s ability to notice and respond to what is happening on the road around them. Drivers are prohibited from texting while driving or using a handheld cell phone to make calls. Other distractions, such as eating and drinking, grooming, or adjusting the radio or other controls, can cause a driver to strike a bicyclist that they failed to see.
- Obey traffic signals and signs – Many bicycle accidents take place at intersections, including in situations where drivers run through red lights or stop signs. Drivers should always be sure to stop when required, and when proceeding through an intersection or making a turn, they should watch for bicycles that are crossing the road or approaching from the oncoming direction.
- Obey speed limits – Speeding is one of the most common causes of bicycle accidents. Drivers who exceed the speed limit may be unable to slow down or stop in time to avoid colliding with a bicycle that is crossing the road or traveling in their lane.
- Follow bicycles at a safe distance – Tailgating is prohibited when driving behind any type of vehicle, including bicycles. If a driver follows a bicycle too closely, they may be unable to stop in time to avoid striking the bicycle from behind.
- Yield to bicycles when appropriate – Since bicycles are treated the same as other vehicles, drivers are required to yield the right of way whenever traffic laws require them to do so. Drivers who do not respect a bicyclist’s right of way may collide with a bicycle that is entering traffic or proceeding through an intersection.
- Look for bicycles when opening doors – When parking on the side of a street or next to a bike lane, drivers and passengers should always check around their vehicle before opening their doors. Failure to do so may result in “dooring” accidents in which a vehicle’s door blocks the path of a bicycle and causes a bicyclist to fall to the ground or into traffic.
Contact Our McHenry County Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Bike accidents can be devastating, leading to multiple types of serious injuries. At Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, we provide representation for bicyclists who have been injured by negligent drivers, helping them pursue financial compensation for their injuries and damages. Contact our Crystal Lake bicycle accident attorneys at 815-338-3838 to arrange a complimentary consultation today.