An 84 year old man was killed when his bicycle was hit by an automobile shortly after 5 p.m. on September 6, 2013. According to news reports, the bicyclist was a serious athlete who competed in triathlons and biked regularly. He was familiar with the road and was riding near the right shoulder at the time of the collision. Witnesses stated that the driver had drifted over to the right edge of the road. The driver told officers that she did not see the bicycle until the collision.
Bicycling can be a fun source of exercise or transportation. A cyclist, however, can suffer serious injury or death in the event of a collision with an automobile. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 667 cyclists were fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2011. Data from the North Carolina Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation shows that 20 cyclists were killed in North Carolina in 2010.
North Carolina has made efforts to increase bicycle safety and education for many years. It developed the first state bicycle program as part of its Bicycle and Bikeway Act of 1974. The Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation provides safety tips and education as well as general information on traveling by bicycle in North Carolina.
Bicycles are considered vehicles under North Carolina law, and as such are subject to the rules of the road. N.C.G.S. § 20-4.01(49). Cyclists must obey traffic signs and signals. They must also ride on the right side of the road, in the direction of traffic.
Along with these responsibilities come certain rights. Bicyclists have the right to ride upon most roads, except Interstate Highways and other fully-controlled limited access highways. Automobile drivers, therefore, must share the roads with bicyclists and treat them as vehicles. The North Carolina Driver’s Manual includes a section on sharing the road with bicyclists. It points out that, while bicyclists usually ride to the right of the lane, they are entitled to use of the full lane. The Driver’s Manual also advises drivers to expect bicycles on all roads except those where specifically prohibited.
Unfortunately, many drivers do not look out for bicycles on the road. Even when they are aware of the presence of a bicycle, some drivers attempt to pass too close or when there is not sufficient room to do so. Seventeen percent of the collisions between cyclists and automobiles in North Carolina from 2005 through 2009 occurred as the vehicle attempted to overtake or pass the bicycle from behind. This number includes instances where the driver was unaware of the bicycle, as well as those in which the motorist saw the bicycle and intentionally attempted to overtake it. These types of crashes resulted in the most serious injuries, accounting for 39% of the fatal crashes and 23% of the serious injuries in automobile – bicycle collisions in North Carolina.
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a collision while riding a bicycle, you should seek the advice of an experienced North Carolina bicycle accident attorney. The attorneys at Auger & Auger have experience representing people injured by negligent drivers. Call (800) 559-5741 today to schedule a confidential consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at Auger & Auger.
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