As an avid cyclist, I can appreciate the energy and enthusiasm which my fellow riders experience when the warm weather returns. But the obligation to account for safety does not fall exclusively on the shoulders of the person riding the bike along the side of the road. The return of cyclists on the roadways requires heightened vigilance by both motorists and cyclists alike. “Share the road” is more than a kind phrase. It is a requirement which everyone must honor if we are to keep our roadways safe and accident free. As food for thought, here are some statistics of which you may not be aware:
- The dominant cause of death or permanent injury in accidents with cyclist is traumatic brain injury.
- Approximately 30% of the 42,000 bicyclists injured annually in the United States are children.
- Nearly 70% of accidents involving bicycles occur at driveways or intersections
Important Take-Aways for Motorists & Cyclists Alike:
- Cyclists, please wear your helmets. New Jersey law requires bicyclists to wear helmets. This law exists for good reason. Studies have shown that wearing a helmet can dramatically lessen the likelihood of head injury in an accident. Remember, you needn’t be going fast to suffer a devastating brain injury. Err on the side of caution.
- Cyclists, accidents can and do happen. Protect your body as well as your brain. Always wear protective clothing. Eyeglasses, jackets, and gloves made of durable material can make the difference between a major and a minor injury.
- Motorists, please watch your speed in and near intersections and residential areas. Just a few miles per hour can make all the difference between an accident and disaster.
Suggestions in the Event of an Accident:
If you are involved in an accident, please remember that you may not realize the full nature and extent of your injuries right away, and questions of fault concerning the accident always have the potential of arising. Here are a few suggestions to minimize your personal risks, and to ensure your rights are protected:
- Get medical attention, even if you have no apparent injuries. You may not realize the full extent of your injury at the time of the accident.
- Don’t discuss the issue of whether you are “at fault” for the accident. The facts are what they are, but you may not have a full grasp of which facts are relevant.
- Call the police or other local authorities and file a report. Even if the accident seems minor, or you don’t believe there was an injury, it may be a good idea to have formal documentation.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses. You can never count on the other party to give an unbiased version of what happened. Corroboration of the facts can be crucial.
- Don’t speak to the other person’s insurance company. Their interests will almost always differ from yours, and anything you say can be used against you later.
- If you have obvious physical injury or damage to your bike or other property, take pictures. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is very, very true.
- Talk with an experienced lawyer. Getting prompt advice about your rights will never hurt you.