Articles Posted in Bicycle Safety

Blind spots are areas that drivers cannot see by simply using a mirror. Drivers should be especially mindful of their blind spots because of the possibility of failing to detect bicyclists or other vehicles. It is important to note that because vehicles vary in shape and size, a vehicle’s design can create impact how large a blind spot is. In order to prevent blind spot accidents, drivers should conduct a head-check every time before making any turns or changing lanes.

According to a recent news report from Delaware, a Honda Civic was traveling southbound in the left lane behind another vehicle. A bicyclist entered the left southbound lane, attempting to cross from east to west. The bicyclist entered the path of one of the vehicles, causing the vehicle to suddenly stop. As a result, the Honda changed lanes into the right travel lane. The bicyclist was crossing the right travel lane, and the front of the Honda struck the right side of the bicycle and ejected the bicyclist. The bicyclist was flown to a local hospital in critical condition and later succumbed to the injuries. The operator of the Honda was not injured. The crash is still under investigation.

In addition to drivers being mindful of their own blind spots and being sure to conduct a head-check, drivers should be mindful of the blind spots that certain vehicles have and proceed with caution. For example, large vehicles such as trucks may have large blind spots where they are unable to see objects, including bicyclists. With that in mind, bicyclists can be mindful of staying away from the space in front of a truck and can be mindful of the left-hand blind spot.

Learning to ride a bicycle can be an exciting and exhilarating time for youth, as they are able to explore this new mode of movement. For both children and adults who ride bicycles, there can also be risks of serious injury. According to accident statistics from sources including the National Safety Council, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and Stanford Medicine, each year, approximately 100 children are killed and 254,000 are injured as a result of bicycle-related accidents. The drivers of motor vehicles share the roads with cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and bicyclists have the same rights as those of drivers of motor vehicles. Children, who have a much smaller stature and can be harder to identify and see from a distance, may also not be fully aware of the rules that may keep them safe. Drivers must pay close attention to their surroundings, including paying special attention to any children who may be around and riding their bikes.

A recent news article revealed that a man has been criminally charged with a misdemeanor in connection with a crash that resulted in the death of an 11-year-old boy in Arizona. The 11-year-old boy was riding a bicycle at the time of the accident, and the car driver stayed at the scene of the crash and cooperated with the investigation.

Accident Prevention

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed Maryland residents’ way of life, including their transportation habits. While there are fewer motor vehicles on the road than usual, in part because people are working remotely and generally staying at home, an increasing number of people have begun riding bicycles, either as a form of exercise or for transport or leisure. Individuals who used to rely on public transportation to get around town, for example, may choose to bike to avoid the crowds and possible contagions. Individuals working from home may also go on bike rides to stretch their legs and get outside of their house safely and responsibly. Generally, more people riding bicycles is a good thing—biking is cost-efficient, good for the environment, and a great form of exercise. However, something for all Maryland residents to keep in mind is that bicyclists are particularly susceptible to serious injuries when they are involved in a bicycle accident.

For example, take a recent bicycle crash that occurred just this month. According to a local news article covering the incident, the crash occurred one Sunday at 5:00 PM when a driver in a car struck a bicyclist. The local police department reported that the driver failed to use proper care when entering the lane, and thus hit the bicyclist. The bicyclist was injured and taken to the local hospital, but fortunately has since been released. Still, the crash is a recent example of the hazards that bicyclists could face on the road, particularly since they do not have the protection surrounding their body that those driving cars or trucks do, for example.

What Are the Most Important Bicycle Safety Tips?

Maryland residents who are biking or plan to start biking soon can and should take certain steps to protect themselves from these potential hazards. First, bicyclists should always wear proper protective equipment. One important piece of this is a sturdy helmet that fits properly. While hopefully, one will not need it, a well-fitting helmet can be the difference between life and death in some Maryland bicycle accidents. Bicyclists should also make sure to take proper care of their bike by taking it in for regular inspections, and should inspect it at home as well—checking the tire pressure, making sure the brakes work, and checking on the chain and gears before going on a ride. While riding, bicyclists can protect themselves by driving with the flow of the traffic, obeying street signs and signals, staying vigilant and aware of the surroundings and any potential danger, and refraining from texting, listening to music, or doing anything else distracting.

The aftermath for accident victims dealing with serious injuries can be overwhelming. Maryland motorcycle and bicycle accident victims may suffer a range of damages available depending on their unique circumstances. Successful parties may be able to recover damages in the form of economic and non-economic damages in a Maryland lawsuit.

Economic damages, also known as special damages, are the out-of-pocket expenses that arise due to the victim’s injuries, such as medical bills, loss of income, and loss of earning capacity. Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are damages without a fixed dollar value, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Maryland has a cap on non-economic damages that may be recovered in a civil car accident case. For cases filed on or after January 1, 2021, the cap is $845,000 for non-economic damages.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages may be available in some accident cases, although they are not routinely awarded in such cases. Punitive damages are only awarded in Maryland if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with knowing and deliberate wrongdoing. They are generally awarded only in the most egregious cases. Punitive damages are meant to serve as a deterrent for others and to punish the defendant for wrongful conduct. Statutory damages may also be available in some cases.

Every year, far too many Maryland residents are injured or even killed in Maryland bicycle accidents. But the state government has exciting news on increased funding for programs that could help prevent these tragic accidents. Late last month, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced two new federal grant programs, with more than $13 million in grants, to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and connectivity in Maryland. According to a local Baltimore news report, the programs will fund 26 different projects sponsored by transportation agencies, local jurisdictions, and non-profits.

Governor Hogan explained the his “administration remains committed to prioritizing safety and connectivity in Maryland’s transportation network,” and that the grants will help local communities ensure safer roads for all. A large portion of the funds will go towards establishing on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities and working on “Safe Routes to School” projects. Many countries can expect to see bike paths created or repaired, and roads designed focused on safety. In Baltimore County, for example, $360,000 has been awarded to create a new network of trails at Patapsco Valley State Park. Tim Smith, the State Highway Administration Administrator for the Maryland Department of Transportation, explained that the grants represent an ongoing commitment to the safety of all motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists throughout the state.

Hopefully, these grants and the subsequent projects will lead to a significant decrease in the number of Maryland bicycle accidents each year. However, these accidents will not disappear completely, and motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists should all be aware of their risks when traveling. If an accident occurs, Maryland law allows those injured to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover financially for the harm caused. These lawsuits can provide accident victims with money to cover their past and future medical expenses, lost wages as a result of their injuries, and even their pain and suffering. However, unfortunately, getting this compensation is not an easy process—accident victims must file suit in court and go through the process of either bringing the case to trial or reaching a settlement deal with the defendant. Because this can be an intimidating process, individuals thinking of filing suit are encouraged to work with a Maryland personal injury attorney to help them know what to expect and prepare their case.

Riding a bicycle is a great form of transportation—it’s cost-efficient, environmentally friendly, and a great form of exercise. However, Maryland residents who ride bicycles—whether it be to work every day or just occasionally to get some fresh air—should always practice safe biking habits and be aware of other drivers on the road. Bicycle accidents can occur in the blink of an eye and cause serious injury, or even death. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2018, 857 bicyclists were killed in crashes in the United States. As you might expect, when a crash occurs between a bicycle and any other vehicle, it is almost always only the cyclist who ends up being injured. But a large percentage of crashes can be avoided if cyclists follow the rules of the road and practice safe biking.

There are several ways cyclists can protect themselves before even heading out on the bicycle. The first way is one of the most important: wearing a helmet. But not just any helmet will do—it is equally important that a cyclist wears a properly fitted helmet that can actually protect them if they were to be in a crash. The sizing of helmets can vary from one manufacturer to the next, so before heading out on a ride with a brand-new helmet, take the time to accurately fit it to make sure that it’s snug and ready to protect you if the worst-case scenario occurs. In addition to wearing a helmet, cyclists can also protect themselves before even getting on the bicycle by wearing clothing that makes them more visible to others, tucking in shoelaces and pant legs, so they do not get caught in the bike chain, and planning their route to ride on bike lanes or bike paths whenever possible.

While biking, there are some additional steps that a cyclist can take to avoid a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages bikers to ride defensively and predictably. Defensively means being focused on the road and the traffic around you, so that you may notice a potential hazard or another vehicle early on and act quickly to avoid a crash. To ride defensively, drive with the flow of traffic, obey all street signs, signals, and road markings, avoid distractions, and keep a sharp eye out for hazards and potentially dangerous situations. On the other hand, Riding predictably means riding consistently, so other vehicles have a sense of what you intend to do. Additionally, it means riding where other vehicles might expect you to be—riding on the sidewalk may cause crashes, for example, because drivers in cars do not look at the sidewalk when looking to see if a turn is safe for them to make.

The concept of bike-shares has exploded across the country, with most large cities having a bike-share program. Bike-shares are generally seen as a good alternative to public transportation because they allow riders to rent bikes from one of many locations across the city and return the bike to any location near the rider’s destination. Some cities, including Washington, D.C. have gone a step beyond the traditional bike-share concept, and have implemented electronic bike-shares.

Not surprisingly, some critics of the electric bike-share concept argue that bike-shares increase the number of Washington, D.C. traffic accidents. These concerns are based mostly on the fear that electric bike-shares allow inexperienced users to operate machines that, when misused, could very easily result in serious injury to the rider, as well as to pedestrians and other motorists. However, as a recent article indicates, there is also the concern that the electric bikes themselves pose a danger to riders.

According to a recent news report, the company Motivate, which is a subsidiary of the popular ride share company, Lyft, has recalled approximately 15% of its electric bikes. A spokesperson for the company explained that the recall was based on reports that riders who tapped the brakes experienced a stronger-than-anticipated force, causing riders to fall. In some cases, riders were sent over the handlebars of the bike. Interestingly, the manufacturer of the brakes has released a statement indicating that the problem was not with the braking components, raising the question that the problem may have to do with how the brakes were installed on the bikes.

Maryland motorists have a duty to ensure the safe operation of their vehicle at all times. However, given the high rates of distracted driving and aggressive driving, Maryland car accidents involving bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists continue to remain at an unacceptably high level.

Indeed, in 2017 alone there were approximately 500 people serious injury and over 110 killed in Maryland pedestrian accidents. That same year there were over 75 fatal Maryland motorcycle accidents, more than half of which involved at least one car or truck. According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, “in a crash between a car and a motorcycle, the car driver is more likely to be at fault than the motorcyclist.”

Under current Maryland law, a motorist who strikes a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian with their vehicle is subject to a fine of up to $500 and a mandatory court appearance. However, practically speaking, most motorists are able to send in advance payment of a $110 fine and can avoid the court appearance altogether. Some state lawmakers rightfully believe that this lets those who cause these accidents off the hook too easily and have proposed a bill to increase certain penalties.

Maryland is a state that values higher education. Indeed, according to the most recent data, there are over 50 colleges across Maryland. Bicycles have long been the preferred method of travel for budget-conscious college students, especially in colleges and universities in large urban centers such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Thus, it isn’t surprising that many Maryland bicycle accidents occur on or around college campuses.

For the most part, colleges do a good job ensuring that bike travel on campus is safe. This means providing bike lanes, signage, and driver education about the presence of bicyclists and how to safely drive in an area where there is a large population of bicyclists. However, despite these efforts, Maryland bicycle accidents continue to occur.

When a bicyclist is injured in a Maryland bicycle accident, they can pursue a claim for compensation against one or more parties. Generally, this includes the driver that struck them, as well as any other potentially liable party such as the college or university, the driver’s employer, or another motorist that was involved in the collision. However, it is essential that an injured bicyclist understand Maryland’s strict contributory negligence laws and how they can preclude an injured cyclist from recovering for their injuries.

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One of the most important lessons children are taught when learning how to ride a bicycle is the importance of always wearing a helmet. While it is impossible to determine exactly how effective helmets are at preventing serious injuries, bicycle helmets are estimated to save thousands of lives per year. In addition, helmets reduce the chance of a rider sustaining a serious head injury in the event of a Maryland bicycle accident.

While the importance of bicycle helmets cannot be overstated, a recent trend concerning the prevalence of counterfeit bicycle helmets is very alarming. According to a recent news report by National Public Radio, counterfeit helmets are often manufactured outside the United States and sold through online retailers. Counterfeit helmets may look very similar to their name-brand counterparts, however, the protection provided by counterfeit helmets pales in comparison.

The U.S. government, as well as helmet manufactures, have taken up the fight to eliminate counterfeit helmets from the marketplace. Also, some online retailers have developed technology to weed out counterfeits.

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