A recent editorial brought up an interesting traffic topic as relates to bicycle-car accidents here in Maryland and across the country in general. As Baltimore injury accident lawyers, we see many victims of traffic collisions, both from truck and car crashes as well as bicycle accidents caused by drivers of motor vehicles. It’s no surprise that when a car and bike tangle on public streets, the cyclist is usually the first to be hurt, sometimes critically. Head injuries are most common, even with helmet use, as are spinal damage, neck injuries and broken bones.
The editorial pointed out that road rage may be to blame for many of the car-bike accidents around the nation, yet authorities may be turning a blind eye to the problem. As drivers in the Baltimore area, as well as other urban and rural areas, I’m certain that more than one person has experienced the anger of another driver on the road. It’s not hard to imagine how much more dangerous this kind of behavior can be when directed toward a cyclist — the results could be deadly.
According to the editorial, there is a sort of “traffic injustice” felt by bicycle riders in some of the nation’s urban centers. The author based his comments on articles documenting certain road rage trials and suggested that individuals can’t ride their bicycles anywhere with safety due to the lack of seriousness on the part of law enforcement when it comes to car-bike accidents that smack of road rage.
Using the analogy of a New Year’s reveler discharging a pistol into the air only to kill an innocent bystander somewhere across town, the author suggests that police are more likely to arrest that gun owner for manslaughter than to charge a driver for intentionally going after and killing a cyclist during a bout of road rage.
The New Year’s incident is hypothetical, yet the author’s point is made very clear; no law enforcement agency would treat this unintentional New Year’s death as “just an accident” unworthy of serious charges, says the author. However, as he explains, when the instrument of injury or death is an automobile in the hands of a careless driver, this is often exactly what happens, according to the author.
As the editorial reminds the reader, every year more than 700 bicycle riders are killed by motorists across the U.S., with another 62,000 sustaining injuries of various degrees. There is no doubt that cyclists are truly in danger in urban areas throughout this state and others. Improved bicycle awareness campaigns and more stringent law enforcement may be the answer to making cyclists feel more at ease on public roads.
Only time will tell if individuals such as the author of this editorial will see a change in this so-called traffic injustice. Meanwhile, as thoughtful motorists we should all consider the rights of bicycle riders and provide them with all the courtesy that we give other drivers of larger, more massive motor vehicles.
Traffic Injustice, Part II, Bicycling.com, February 1, 2010