Bicycle Accident Attorneys in Birmingham, AL
According to the website bikeleague.org, Alabama ranks 39th of the 50 states in terms of bike-friendly legislature and infrastructure to promote biking as a legitimate means of transportation and exercise. This could be one reason why very few of the state’s citizens choose to ride a bicycle as their primary means of transportation. The report lists Alabama at 48th for the percentage of people who regularly ride their bicycle to work, and we come in at a dismal second to last in the country for bicyclist safety. Its 2017 report indicates that 31 people per 100,000 died from injuries sustained while riding their bicycle.
An Overview of Bicycle Laws in Alabama
Alabama maintains four primary statutes to regulate the behavior of bicyclists and motorists on shared roads. Under state statute 32-5A-260, bikers have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, and other forms of transportation. Other important statutes that govern the act of biking on state roads include:
- 32-5A-263: This statute stipulates that bikers must ride as far to the right of a roadway as possible. It also allows two bicyclists to ride abreast of one another and requires them to use a path adjacent to the roadway if one is available and in passable condition.
- 32-5A-265: People who ride a bike at night must install a headlight that allows others to see them from a distance of 500 feet. Additionally, nighttime riders must have red reflection tape on the side of the bike that allows others to see them from behind from a distance of up to 600 feet.
- 32-5A-82: A motorist who wishes to overtake and then pass a bicyclist must do so from a safe distance. The law indicates this should not be less than three feet on any roadway that has a marked bicycle lane or any other roadway with a posted speed limit of less than 45 miles per hour when a double yellow line is not present on that roadway.
- 32-5A-282: A bicycle rider under age 16 must wear a safety helmet when riding on public roadways.
Exploring Some of the Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
While both motorists and bicyclists share responsibility to avoid a collision, accidents often occur due to drivers not paying attention or acting aggressively because they’re in a motorized vehicle.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of all types of accidents, including those between a motorized vehicle and a bicyclist. This means that the driver had his or her attention elsewhere and didn’t see the bike rider until it was too late. Common actions that fall into the category of driver distraction include talking on a smartphone, sending or reading a text, changing the radio station, eating, talking to passengers, applying make-up, and shaving. Other scenarios that can cause a vehicle to crash into a bicycle include:
- Ignoring traffic safety laws: Actions such as failing to stop at a stop sign, running a red light, failing to look both ways before pulling out of a parking lot or driveway, and failing to check the blind spot can lead to serious or fatal crashes. Just as when you drive a car, you can’t predict what another person will do or fail to do. You can keep yourself safer by remaining observant and using hand signals to notify drivers of your intent.
- Speeding: While speeding is a traffic violation as well, the consequences of it are often much more significant than any others. A driver who is moving too fast for the road and weather conditions will struggle to bring his or her car under control in time to avoid a collision with a bicyclist that the driver didn’t see until the last second. Although bikes travel much slower than cars and other vehicles, you should pedal at a safe speed as well. Consider the condition of the road you’re traveling on, whether you must share it with motorized vehicles, and the expected weather conditions when deciding how fast you should go.
- Turning directly in front of a bicyclist: This can happen when a driver fails to check his or her blind spot. A mirror doesn’t tell the whole story, so it’s up to drivers to physically look over each shoulder before proceeding through an intersection. All too often, a driver completes a turn and strikes a bicyclist that he or she didn’t see because the bicyclist didn’t appear in the driver’s rear view or side mirrors.
- Driving while intoxicated: This situation is dangerous enough when a crash with another vehicle of the same size. It can quickly turn deadly when the impaired driver strikes someone riding a bicycle. The bike offers little to no protection against thousands of pounds of steel and metal crashing into it. The law requires both drivers and bicyclists to avoid intoxication before getting behind the wheel or on top of a bike seat.
Besides wearing a helmet and not biking after consuming alcohol or drugs, we encourage you to avoid wearing headphones while riding. This allows you to hear everything in your surroundings, so you don’t feel surprised if you suddenly meet a car at an intersection that you wouldn’t have heard coming otherwise. It’s always important to use as many of your senses as possible to remain safe and aware.
Has a Negligent Motorist Caused You Significant Injuries?
Sometimes you do everything right as a bicyclist and still end up the victim of another person’s negligence. If that has happened to you or a close family member, you may find yourself struggling with overwhelming medical debt and physical pain as a result. You or the injured person may not be able to work as you recover from your injuries or could even have a permanent disability due to the accident.
At Burge & Burge, PC, we’re on the side of injured victims. We invite you to contact us at our office in Birmingham, Alabama to request a free legal consultation. Our personal injury lawyers will assess your case and let you know the next steps to move forward is that is what you desire to do. We encourage you to act quickly since Alabama enforces a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases. You can reach us locally at 205-201-5000 or toll-free at 800-633-3733.