When it comes to transportation, motor vehicles are not the only means to get to a destination. On public roads, bicycles are also welcome but oftentimes traffic laws for them are misunderstood, causing confusion for drivers and cyclists alike.

 According to the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), bicycle deaths have increased by 133% in 2013. In 2012, there were 3 deaths, while 7 occurred in 2013. Most individuals do not consider the dangers of bicycling ahead of time or know what steps to take once an accident happens. However, knowing some facts up front can help decrease your chances of injury.

 How Do Bike Accidents Happen?

 Most bicycling accidents happen in major cities, where most cycling takes place. Busy intersections, roundabouts, and T-junctions are where most collisions occur. And not surprisingly, as the speed limit increases in a given area, the severity of injuries suffered increases as well.

 Not knowing the traffic laws for bicycling also plays a significant role in accidents. Below is a list of rules provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles of Nevada (DMVNV) website:

  •  At intersections, motorists must yield to cyclists as they would for other vehicles and pedestrians.
  • When passing a cyclist, motorists must move into an adjacent lane to the left if possible. If not, the motorist must pass with at least 3 feet of clearance.

  • Motorists must yield the right-of-way to a cyclist on a bicycle path or in a bike lane.

  • Motorists may not stop, park or drive on a designated bicycle path or lane unless they are entering or leaving an alley of driveway, performing official duties, directed by a police officer, or an emergency situation exists.

  • A cyclist is required to ride on the right side of the roadway.

  • Cyclists ride in a traffic lane, staying to the far right as practicable unless preparing to turn or overtake another vehicle.

  • Cyclists must obey all traffic signs and signals to let others know what they plan to do.

  • Inexperienced riders, especially children, require special courtesy and care. They may not always follow traffic rules. Be especially careful around these riders and expect the unexpected.

  • Bicycles ridden at night must have:

    • A white lamp in the front visible from at least 500 feet away.

    • A red tail reflector visible in a vehicle’s low beams from 300 feet away.

    • Reflective material on the sides of the bike visible in low beams from at least 600 feet away or a lamp visible from both sides from 500 feet away.

Some of the basic bicycling recommendations include: wearing a helmet, brightly colored clothing, and keeping bikes in good repair. As for what cyclists should not do, the DMVNV advises against: riding on the wrong side of the road, wearing a headset when riding, and riding at night without required lights and reflectors.

Who is at Fault? Motorist or Cyclist?

bicycle accidents

 The answer to this question is what divides most individuals involved in bicycle-related accidents. In almost all states, a bicycle is considered a “vehicle” and must obey the general traffic laws that motorists must follow. If a collision occurs at an intersection, the question of right-of-way is what typically determines who is at fault. If two vehicles approach an intersection that is not controlled by a traffic signal, the right-of-way goes to the vehicle that arrives first. If two vehicles happen to arrive at the same time, the right-of-way is given to the vehicle on the right.

At intersections controlled by traffic signals, right-of-way is determined by the signal itself.

 If you are involved in a cycling accident, talk to a personal injury lawyer and discuss your rights. Oftentimes, bicycles are seen as a burden on the road and motorists will blame the cyclist no matter who caused the accident. Placing immediate blame on cyclists is unethical and unfair, and only a personal injury lawyer will be able to stand up for your rights in court.

Bighorn Staff

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