Turning on the morning news in Phoenix continues to bring increased awareness of the safety risks faced by bicyclists in our community every day. Not long goes by without a report of an accident or a fatality between a biker and a motor vehicle, many of which were caused by mistakes that could have been avoided.
If we could understand the reasons behind these collisions, more and more of them would be prevented and the associated loss of life would be curtailed. So with that in mind, exactly why do so many cyclists keep losing their lives in the Valley?
Like the majority of traffic accidents that happen here in Arizona, there is no one easy answer. Accidents happen for countless reasons but the biggest thing they have in common is that one or more individuals involved made a mistake. In fact, if all motorists and cyclists drove and rode according to the rules of the road and with safety as their primary concern, almost no collisions would happen. Instead, though, it is the errors of our citizens that are causing damage and leading to incidents that cannot be undone.
Among common causes of bicycle accidents, distracted driving ranks high. Motorists are increasingly paying attention to their cell phones, GPS devices, the radio, and the people in their car instead of keeping their focus on changing traffic conditions which allows them to become distracted. Without full focus on the roadways, it is easy to overlook a bicyclist and to ignore that rider’s right to ride in the roadway. Simply not noticing a bicycle because you are distracted behind the wheel is not a valid excuse for why an accident happened. Importantly, all drivers are charged with the knowledge and responsibility of those around them and failing to act in a reasonable manner can trigger liability if an accident happens.
An improper understanding of the rights and movements of a bicyclist is another common reason that cyclists are losing their lives in Arizona collisions. Drivers of cars may not understand how the driving laws apply to cyclists and may act in a manner directly contrary to what they should in response. Rather, drivers should realize that a cyclists has the same rights and responsibilities of drivers to ride in the street. Cyclists must obey traffic signals, signal when turning, and ride with traffic just like cars do. But if a driver does not understand these issues, a driver may cause an accident.
Unfortunately, drunk driving accidents are a leading cause of bicycle accidents as well. Drivers who consume alcohol and then take to the roadways are less able to control their vehicles than they would be sober and more likely to cause harm to themselves and others. Simply abstaining from drinking and driving would save countless lives annually yet hundreds of repeat drunk drivers are on our roads every day of the year.
Though not one reason can be pinpointed, the mistakes by those on the roadways continues to be the primary cause of fatal bicycle accidents in Arizona. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were 1,434 bicycle accidents in the state in 2015 alone. Of those, 1,266 accidents produced 1,276 injuries and 28 accidents resulted in 29 fatalities. If you drive in the state or if you ride a bicycle, make sure you do so legally and responsibly to help keep everyone on the road safe and accident-free.
Prior Blog Entry:
Why Public Transportation in Phoenix Affects Your Safety – Even If You Don’t Use It, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 21, 2016.
Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2015, Arizona Department of Transportation, published June 1, 2016.