As the popularity of cycling increases across the state of North Carolina, so do the number of incidences involving collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control estimate that nationally over 50,000 people are seen in emergency rooms annually for bicycle related injuries and more than 700 people a year are killed. A study conducted in 2009 by the national Highway traffic safety administration that approximately 74% of those killed were under the age of 14. This figure represents a 58% decrease in fatalities from just 10 years prior. Nevertheless, as the population of cyclists increases the number is bound to climb.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of a bicycle accident is prevention. By practicing defensive riding skills obeying the rules of the road and wearing a helmet, riders can safely share the road. Here are a few safe riding practices:
- Travel on the same side of the road as other traffic traveling in the same direction.
- Respect traffic controls.
- At intersections, choose the appropriate lane according to destination positioning.
- Control the lane unless overtaking traffic is being delayed and the marked traffic lane is wide enough to safely share.
- Change lanes in anticipation of, factors such as changing traffic conditions.
- When passing vehicles that are parallel parked, leave enough distance between you the vehicle in case a door is opened.
- Feel and act like a vehicle driver.
- At night, only ride a bike equipped with a headlight and tail light. Also wear reflective clothing or apply reflective tape.
Representing individuals injured in bicycle crashes in North Carolina presents many unique challenges. Attitudes towards cyclists are changing. While some motorists still do not appreciate encountering cyclists on public streets, more people are willing to accept their obligation to share the roads.
At Price, Hargett, Petho and Anderson we have been representing victims of bicycle accidents since 1979. We have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle these often complicated cases. At present, North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that still applies the doctrine of contributory negligence. In crashes between cyclists and motorists, close attention is paid what action, if any, the bicyclist may have done to cause the crash. If any fault can be attributed to the cyclist, a damage claim is likely to be denied. Gathering evidence, conducting interviews of potential witnesses and accident reconstruction is critical. Our early involvement in a case ensures that this valuable opportunity to gather information is not lost.