Almost every time a person is involved in a bicycle-auto accident the bike rider is almost guaranteed to be seriously injured. Various factors will determine to what extent those injuries are suffered, but the outcome is rarely good for the cyclist. As a Baltimore injury accident attorney, I have come across some fairly horrendous cases.
Injuries typically sustained by cyclists in automobile-related traffic accidents range from simple bruises and scratches to broken bones, spine and neck trauma, and serious head injuries. Fatalities are not uncommon as are permanently disabilities that make even the simplest of tasks nearly impossible and requiring the assistance of a full-time caregiver.
Although I and my colleagues are always ready and willing to assist victims of bicycle-car or bike-truck crashes, we would much rather that people not become injured in the first place. To that end, below are a few suggestions or pointers to keep in mind when planning your next foray onto the streets and roadways of Maryland’s cities, suburbs and rural areas.
Accessories that Can Make a Difference
The following items can be very helpful in either preventing an accident or lessening the effects of a collision with a delivery truck, car or SUV. Although nothing can protect a rider completely, these accessories may be able to keep potential injuries to a minimum.
Helmet — Certainly the most important of all safety-related cycling equipment, a properly fitted helmet can make the difference between surviving a traffic accident on your bike and never coming home again. Ask any safety expert and you’ll learn that bicycle helmets can reduce significantly the number and severity of head injuries sustained in a car-bicycle accident or even a single-bike crash.
Horn — Prevention is the key to safety when riding a bicycle in busy city centers and even in sleepy neighborhoods. To be sure, many bike accidents happen because a driver does not see an approaching cyclist and either turns or pulls out in front of a cyclist. A loud horn mounted to your bike will greatly improve your chances of being heard, then seen and hopefully avoided.
Mirrors — Bicycle riders can make very good use of rear-view mirrors to better see what vehicles are approaching from behind. Knowledge is power and knowing whether a large delivery truck is about to pass you can help you prepare. Mirrors can be attached to handlebars or helmets. New cycling-specific sunglasses come equipped with small mirrors that allow the rider to see behind. This is extremely important as the statistics show that many cyclists are hit from behind by vehicles they were never even aware of before the crash.
Headlamp — Most states require bicyclists to have an operating headlamp whenever traveling on public roads after dark. This is more than just a good idea; it makes sense from the standpoint of visibility. A headlamp serves two purposes. First, it allows the rider to see the condition of the roadway ahead of the cycle. Second, it alerts motorists and pedestrians that a bike is approaching and to exercise additional caution.
Taillamp — Similar in purpose as the headlamp, this rear-facing lamp helps to warn car and truck drivers that a bicycle is up ahead. Utilizing a flashing taillamp can make a cyclist even more visible due to its pulsing light, which can be much more obvious than a steady glow.