Truck and car accidents with bikes are on the rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that about 2 percent of traffic-related fatalities in the U.S. involve bicyclists. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that the cost of these fatalities to be more than $3 billion each year. In addition, 48,000 bike riders were injured in truck and car accidents. Millions of Americans ride bikes on a regular basis — for fitness or transportation. Do they deserve a safe road?
Only about one-tenth of Americans are considered to be regular bicyclists. That leaves 90% of the population who not only do not ride, but tend to consider bicycling to be dangerous and an annoying impediment to motor vehicles using the roadways. When it comes to jury trials involving motor-vehicle-on-bike accidents, it is important to take into account the potential bias that may exist against bicyclists who are injured by the negligence of others.
First, I think everyone agrees that bicyclists deserve a safe road. But what does that mean? Certainly, unsafe drivers — those who drink and drive, text and drive, ignore traffic laws, drive while sleepy or distracted — should be held accountable if they hit a biker and cause personal injury. However, many people don’t fully understand the laws that apply to motor vehicles and bicycles when they share the road.
Traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles and bikes vary from State-to-State. The only pertinent federal law that applies to bicyclists is a regulation that prohibits bicycling on interstate highways. Therefore, Ohio law sets the rules of the road in these cases. Ohio law does not require a bicyclist to use a helmet, as in some States. In addition to following basic traffic laws, some other Ohio laws are as follows:
- No person operating a bicycle shall ride other than upon or astride the regular seat or carry any other person upon such bicycle other than upon a regular seat.
- No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars.
- No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
When investigating a bike accident, we take into account crash mechanics that are unique to bicycle accidents, the actions of the bicyclist immediately before the collision, lighting and use of reflectors or lights, eyewitness accounts, and statements obtained by police. Because cyclists’ injuries from truck and car accidents tend to be severe or deadly, thorough investigation is warranted to determine if a negligence claim exists.