If you are driving on a neighborhood road in West Palm Beach or Boca Raton and you see a bicyclist on the road up ahead, do you treat that cyclist with the same respect you would any other motorist? According to a recent article in Forbes, “two new studies show that some motorists dislike cyclists so much that they pass them within inches on the road.”
In other words, there are drivers who admittedly do not share the road safely with cyclists and behave in ways that could result in a serious bicycle accident.
Negative Attitudes Toward Cyclists May Result in Motor Vehicle Crashes
Not only do a surprising number of drivers admit to being annoyed by cyclists and behaving in knowingly unsafe ways when sharing the road with cyclists, but some drivers even admit to disobeying traffic laws concerning bicyclists. The two recent studies were conducted by researchers in Australia, but they have implications for motorists in the U.S. that could help to clarify reasons for some bicycle accidents.
The first study, published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, determined that a majority of motorists “found antipathy towards cyclists whether or not they were wearing Spandex and riding in groups.” In other words, it does not matter who the cyclist is, but rather anyone on a bicycle who is attempting to share the road can produce hostility among motor vehicle drivers. The second study, conducted by researchers at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety at the University of Technology in Queensland concluded that “many motorists knowingly ignored” laws designed to protect cyclists from car accidents.
In total, nearly 36 percent of drivers surveyed said that they knowingly failed to comply with bicycle safety laws and regulations “most of the time” or “almost always,” arguing that cyclists are “annoying.” To be sure, one of the lead authors of the second study reported that non-compliance with safety rules and regulations when it comes to bicycle safety is “widespread” among motor vehicle drivers.
Tips for Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
It is not always easy to share the road with bicyclists when you are in a hurry, or when it is dark outside, and it is difficult to see bicyclists who have not taken safety measures like putting reflectors on their bicycle or wearing reflective clothing. However, it is extremely important for Florida drivers to remember that they have a duty to share the road with bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Failing to share the road, and failing to acknowledge the rights of bicyclists, can result in a serious or fatal collision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides the following tips for motorists when it comes to sharing the road with bicyclists:
- Understand that bicyclists, when on the roadway, have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers in motor vehicles;
- Treat bicyclists like other drivers on the road;
- Always pass bicyclists in the same way that you would another motor vehicle (in other words, only pass when you can safely move into another lane in order to pass);
- Gives bicyclists enough room on the road;
- Never pass bicyclists too closely;
- Always keep an eye out for bicyclists in areas where you would not expect to see a motor vehicle, such as when you make a right-hand turn; and
- Look for a bicyclist approaching from the rear anytime you turn at an intersection.
Contact a Florida Bicycle Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love was injured in a motor vehicle crash, you should speak with a Boca Raton bicycle accident lawyer about your case. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC to learn more.