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Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

When bicyclists share the road with vehicles, they do not have the protection of a vehicle and can suffer severe injuries in the event of an accident. There are a number of causes for accidents involving bicycles. Most of these bicycle accidents are preventable if everyone on the road engages in safe behaviors.

Failure to Yield

Bicycles have the same rights as drivers on the road. However, either intentionally or unintentionally, many drivers fail to give bicycles the space they need and deserve. Drivers may fail to yield to bicyclists in a number of situations, including:

  • Entering an intersection
  • Merging onto a highway
  • Making a right or left turn
  • Backing out of driveways or other spaces
  • Failing to follow traffic signals such as red lights or stop signs

Cars do not always have the right of way while on the road, and it is up to drivers to follow the rules of the road to prevent bicycle accidents.

Distracted Driving

Drivers must maintain focus at all times to avoid hazards, including bicycles. There are many factors that can take a driver’s attention away from the road, such as cell phones, navigation systems, or eating and drinking.  Drivers who try to multitask present a serious risk to bicyclists.

Drowsy or impaired drivers are even more dangerous, both to themselves and to others on the road. Drowsy drivers run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel and losing control. Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol have slower reaction times and may lack the judgment needed to stay in their lane, properly execute turns, and avoid oncoming obstacles, such as bicycles.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving, or road rage, occurs when a driver exhibits purposeful reckless behaviors that are meant to endanger others. It is very dangerous when a driver tries to engage with another vehicle, but it can be deadly when a bicycle becomes a target of road rage. Aggressive driving can include:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Disobeying traffic signals
  • Risky lane changing or failing to signal
  • Blocking the bike lane
  • Confrontational behaviors such as honking or verbal abuse

When confronted with an aggressive driver, the safest strategy is to avoid them if at all possible. Engaging with an aggressive driver can escalate the situation, which is a danger for bicyclists as well as other vehicles on the road.

Dangerous Road Conditions

In some cases, it is not other vehicles but the road itself that causes accidents. Sudden changes in the road surface affect bicycles much more than larger vehicles and can cause bicyclists to lose control. Potholes are common due to long-term wear and tear on a roadway, or poor weather conditions. When potholes remain unfixed or are given low-quality patches, they can present a serious hazard for bicycles. Sewer grates and railroad or trolley tracks are also dangerous, as bicycle tires can get stuck and cause the cyclist to fall off or veer into oncoming traffic.

The government or public agency that is responsible for maintaining the road must identify these hazards in a timely manner and take the necessary steps to correct them. Simple solutions such as permanent patching for potholes, changing the shape of sewer grates, or covering any unused tracks can prevent deadly accidents. In the meantime, the agency must provide adequate warning to cyclists of any potential hazards and direct traffic away from them. When they fail to do so, they may be held liable for any injuries that occur.

Bicycle Defects

When the bicycle itself is a hazard, a rider may not realize it until it is too late. A defect can occur either because the design of the bicycle is inherently flawed or because it was manufactured improperly. Bicycles may be recalled for many reasons, such as:

  • Defective or cracked carbon fiber frames
  • Brake failure
  • Defective tires
  • Fork failure
  • Defect on quick-release hubs on front wheels
  • Incorrect materials or assembly
  • Failure to meet other safety standards

It is also essential for bicyclists to have a helmet that is properly made. When helmets or bicycles fail while on the road, it can catch riders off guard and result in severe injuries. Designers or manufacturers may be at fault for those injuries, depending on how the defect occurred.

New Jersey Bicycle Accident Lawyers at Davis & Brusca, LLC Represent Victims Injured in All Types of Bicycle Accidents

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a bicycle, call the New Jersey bicycle accident lawyers at Davis & Brusca LLC. The cause of the accident will determine who is at fault for your injuries. Our lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case and prepare a sound legal strategy to hold those parties accountable and get you the compensation to which you are entitled. With offices conveniently located in Princeton, we help bicycle accident victims throughout Central New Jersey, including the communities of Middlesex County, Essex County, Hudson County, Union County, Morris County, and Hunterdon County. Call us today at 609-786-2540 or contact us online.