Prime bicycling weather is all but behind us for this year, but there are always a handful of stalwart bike riders traveling the roadways in and around Rockville, Annapolis, Washington, D.C., and Hagerstown well into the colder months. As such, it would not be ill-advised to throw out this warning to anyone taking to the streets during the evenings to be especially careful when driving or riding this season.
As Maryland personal injury lawyers, my firm hears about dozens of deadly bicycle and motorcycle accidents happening every year where the victim was hit by another motorist who said they never saw the cyclist or biker until it was too late. In many of these roadway collisions, that claim is likely valid, but of course, police department and insurance company investigators many times have the final say.
The point we would like to make, as auto accident attorneys, is that cyclists — both pedal-powered as well as motorized — need to exercise caution one the days begin to get shorter and colder. Similarly, passenger car and commercial truck drivers should also take a page from the safety guides and remember to be on the lookout for cycles and pedestrians traveling on the roadside.
While it is incumbent on operators of motor vehicles to make every effort to avoid a dangerous and sometimes deadly traffic wreck, not everyone is sufficiently vigilant in that regard. Every year we read of multiple victims of car-bike and truck-motorcycle accidents along Maryland’s interstates and surface streets. These crashes usually result in some kind of injury to the bicycle or motorcycle rider. Serious, critical and sometimes fatal injuries include broken bones, deep lacerations and bruising of internal organs, as well as closed-head trauma and spinal cord damage.
A little while back we read of a man who was struck and killed by a passing motorist on a Friday evening in the area of Severna Park, MD. According to news articles, Matthew Young, 40, was on his mountain bike heading northbound along a stretch of Veterans Highway when he was hit from behind by a car driven by a 64-year-old Dunkirk man. It’s difficult to say if the accident could have been avoided, however police reports indicated that Mr. Young hit in an area of the highway with little lighting.
Based on reports, the cyclist was in the right travel lane, however the driver of the car that fatally injured him said that he did not see Young prior to the accident. The force of the crash, which apparently occurred sometime around 7:30pm, was sufficient to throw the victim from his bike and onto the windshield of the vehicle. Young was subsequently transported to the shock trauma unit of the University of Maryland Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries, news reports stated.
According to police investigators, the victim was wearing dark, non-reflective clothes. Investigators said that the bicycle was rigged with a makeshift headlamp, as well as a flashing light attached to the rear of the bicycle. However, according to police, that rear lamp was not activated at the time of the accident.
From their findings, police reportedly did not believe that speed or alcohol were factors in the deadly crash. Investigators cited “bicyclist visibility” as the likely cause of the collision, and made note of the fact that the incident occurred along a particularly dark section of Veterans Highway, which not coincidentally has no shoulder.
Police Investigate Fatal Md. Bike Accident, NBCWashington.com, October 13, 2011
Matthew Jeffrey Young, bicyclist struck, killed in Severna Park, WJLA.com, October 8, 2011