Dodging Orange County Bicycle Accidents by Learning to Watch for Bikes
Many Orange County drivers view bicyclists in less than equal terms, making protecting yourself from a bicycle accident even more important than most drivers realize.
The number of people riding their bikes for both personal and professional purposes is growing each year. In fact, over 40 million people over the age of six are riding their bikes at least six times a year. The problem with this is the as the number of bike riders increases, so does the number of accidents. This applies to bike riders in Orange County, California. While there are similarities between litigation for bikes and other vehicles, knowing the differences can help you keep yourself safe, should you ever have the misfortune of being in one of these accidents.
What Makes Bicycle Laws Different
Understanding the bicycle laws of your state, including California, is the first step in protecting yourself should you ever experience an accident either as a bicyclist or with a bicyclist. Each state views bikes slightly differently. For example, some of the states will charge a person drinking and riding his or her bike with the same DUI as a person driving a vehicle, while other states have no such laws. If you want to find out where your state lands, consult your local DMV’s driver’s education handbook. You can also find out what the helmet requirements are for your state, if it has any, while consulting this book.
There are also a few different states that require the person operating the vehicle that weighs the most to be the most careful in any and all circumstances. These laws are intended to protect both bicyclists and pedestrians, also known as the ‘vulnerable user’ laws. No matter who causes the accident in these particular states, the person driving the weightiest vehicle will automatically be at fault.
The Most Common Types of Bicycle Crashes in Orange County
There are commonly five generalized types of crashes involving bicycles that we see each year in Orange County. Each of them has a way that the bicyclist is expected to behave, allowing for him or her to have a chance to avoid the accident.
The first type of accident is called a left cross, and this involves a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist. In this type of scenario, the person on the bike should attempt to get into the right lane to avoid a collision.
The next type of accident is called a right hook, and this involves a vehicle coming around the bicyclist on the left, and then turning right directly in front of the person on the bike. In this scenario, the person riding the bike needs to be proactive and fill up the lane prior to the intersection, as this will make the person in the vehicle have no choice but to wait behind the bike to make their turn.
‘Dooring’ is the next type of accident, and it involves the bicyclist being hit by the door or a vehicle. To avoid any type of collision with a door, bicyclists should remain at least three full feet away from all parked cars and constantly be on the lookout for any motion inside of a car that could show it’s occupied.
‘Parking lotting’ is another type of accident, where a vehicle is trying to pull out of a parking lot and hits a bicycle riding past. While this can be hard to avoid, it does help if all bicyclists are riding according to the driver’s expectations, depending on what your state requires. Most states require bikes to ride with traffic, so avoiding riding against traffic is the best course of action.
Finally, the last type of accident is called overtaking. This is when a vehicle overtakes the space the bicycle is operating in, causing an accident. This is difficult to avoid, but if the bicyclist knows when to overtake his or her lane, even this accident can be avoided.
Should an Bicycle Accident Occur
In the event of an accident, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, if you or anyone at the scene needs medical attention, get it immediately. Next, contact any authorities that need to be involved to make sure everything about the accident is properly documented. Write down all of the details you can remember, including any witness names, camera locations, and the information on any vehicle involved in the accident (including the bike). These are all important facts to have, should you ever end up in court over the accident.
Bicycle accidents regularly happen, and with the increase in people using bikes to get around, these numbers are likely to remain on the rise. Pay attention to the bicycles on the road, and give them the same rights as you would another vehicle. Even if you believe that bicycles should remain on sidewalks, it is better to give them a wide berth than it is to get into an accident with one. If you are riding your bike out with vehicles, give them the respect they deserve, if for no other reason than to keep yourself safe. It is not worth anyone getting injured.
Please give us a call if you have questions about your Orange County bicycle accident. We’ve been helping victims of bicycle accidents since 1986 and the chances are good we can answer your questions and help.