As summer sets in, the streets of Tucson are busier than at any other time of the year. With longer days and no school, children and adults are more prone to take advantage of the outdoors, and the numbers of individuals enjoying outdoor activities increases dramatically. One of those activities is bicycling. Unfortunately, as the number of bicyclists on the streets increase, so too does the number of bicycling accidents.
Bicycle Injury Statistics Illustrate the Problem in Arizona
While bicycling is a tremendous form of exercise, it is not without its dangers. Low-visibility, inattentive drivers and other factors contribute to scores of vehicle accidents with bicycles each year.
According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), the number of fatalities has slowly increased over the course of the last several years, from 23 deaths in Arizona in 2013 to 29 deaths in 2015.
Arizona is Not Alone
According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), in 2015 an estimated 818 bicyclists were killed across the United States, representing a 12.2 percent increase in deaths since 2014.
Of those killed, 88 percent were male, and the average age of victims has increased to 45 years old. In 35 percent of the accidents, either the driver or the bicyclist had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit. However, according to PBIC, after hospital research, the group estimates only a very low number, perhaps as little as 10 percent, report injury accidents to the police, so the total number of accidents may be massively underreported.
Getting Legal Help
If you or someone you love has been killed or injured in a bicycle accident, the attorneys at Khalidi Law Firm, PLLC have the experience and the resources to help you gain full and fair compensation for your losses. Based in downtown Tucson, Arizona’s Barrio Historico, our team has litigated bicycle and personal injury cases in Arizona since 1994, and we will be sure to protect your rights and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
We help our clients in both English and Spanish.
Types of Bicycle Accidents
- Parallel-Path Crashes – These crashes make up 35 percent of all accidents, and occur when a motorist turns or merges into a bicyclist’s path, overtakes a bicyclist, or when a bicyclist turns or merges into a motorist’s path.
- Crossing-Path Events – These crashes make up 57.5 percent of all crashes, and include motorist or bicyclist failing to yield at intersections or midblocks, or other crashes involving crossing paths.
- Hit and Run Bicycle Accidents – An auto accident in which a vehicle collides with a bicycle and does not stop.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
- Unsafe Driving – This category includes several different types of driving, including: overtaking the bicyclist; failure to yield; turning into the cyclist; and aggressive driving. Unsafe driving practices are dangerous not only to bicyclists but to other drivers and pedestrians, as well.
- Car Driver Inattention / Distraction – Distracted driving and driver inattention pulls the driver’s attention from the road and makes the potential for an accident proportionately higher. Because of their low visibility, this is especially dangerous for bicyclists.
- Driver Intoxication – Intoxication impairs driver ability overall, and with an inability to function properly, makes DUI accidents possible and the roadways unsafe for everyone.
- Visibility Difficulties, particularly in late afternoon/evening – The visibility profile for bicyclists is generally very low, and unless the driver is aware of his or her surroundings, bicyclists are much easier to overlook. Bicyclists are especially difficult to see in the early morning or evening, when shadows and visibility cause objects to more easily blend in the background.
- Improperly Designed Road or Traffic Pattern / Hazardous Road Conditions – Improperly designed roads and traffic patterns may create unavoidable issues for bicyclists and may include spots where visibility is poor, congestion doesn’t allow room and other issues.
Where Bicyclists are Most At Risk
According to the DOT, nearly three-fourths of bicycle crashes occur in intersections, driveways and other junctions. The NHTSA reports that roughly two-thirds of accidents occur in urban areas.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
Liability depends on the accident itself. Generally, the other driver is responsible, and the driver and his insurance company will be held liable. However, as with other personal injuries, it depends on circumstances. If the accident was the result of faulty equipment, the manufacturer may be held liable; if the accident occurred because of faulty road design or traffic patterns, the city or state may be liable; and if the accident occurred on private property that doesn’t meet reasonable safety standards, liability may fall on the property owner.
Most Common Injuries
As with car accidents, bicycle accidents have the potential for major injuries. Some of the most common include:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – These injuries occur because of impact to the brain. TBIs can be debilitating, and have the potential to cause complete disability.
- Complex Fractures – Because bicyclists are not enclosed, a crash often impacts the body directly and may propel bicyclists far from the original crash site. As a result, broken bones are a common result. Complex fractures occur when bones are broken in several places and with both initial and secondary impacts happen frequently.
- Joint Dislocation – Joint dislocation occurs when a bone is dislodged from its socket. The impact of a car crashing into a bicycle has the strength to cause, at the least, dislocation in all the major joints, bones and sockets.
Laws and Responsibilities
When on the road, the same laws, rights and responsibilities that apply to motorists apply to bicyclists. In Arizona, laws include:
- ARS 28-644 – Stop for traffic lights and stop signs.
- ARS 28-817 – Always use a white headlight and a red rear reflector when you cycle after sunset or before sunrise.
- ARS 28-792, ARS 28-904 – Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and on sidewalks.
- ARS 28-756 – Before you turn or change lanes, look behind you, signal to show your plan to turn or change lanes, and yield to any traffic already there. Cyclists may signal their turns by extending either their left arm for a left turn or their right arm for a right turn.
- ARS 28-721 – Any vehicle moving slower than the normal traffic speed shall drive in the right-hand lane, or “as close as PRACTICABLE” to the right edge of the road, except when preparing to turn left or when passing.
- ARS 28-704 – Any vehicle on a two-lane road that has five or more vehicles behind it must pull off at the first safe pullout to allow the vehicles behind to proceed.
- ARS 28-815 – Special conditions that affect cyclists more than motorists are recognized in the law.
- Riding two abreast is permitted by law (A.R.S. 28-815).
- You may ride far enough from the road edge to stay clear of surface debris, potholes, rough pavement, drain grates, and pavement joints, as well as to avoid pedestrians, dogs, parked vehicles, and other objects.
- You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it. Never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist behind you.
Laws for Bicycle Riders Only
- ARS 28-813 – Every person riding a bicycle must have a regular seat to sit on.
- ARS 28-817 – Every bicycle must have at least one brake that will make the wheel skid when applied.
- ARS 28-815 – You may ride no more than two side-by-side, except on exclusive bike paths.
- ARS 28-816 – You must have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- ARS 28-814 – You may not attach your bicycle to, or hold onto, another vehicle on the roadway.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
Khalidi Law Firm has more than two decades of experience with bicycle accidents. We are experienced with identifying at-fault parties; conducting thorough, detailed investigations; and managing communication with insurance companies, third parties and other attorneys. We will help you find your way through the maze of legal proceedings and help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Set up a free consultation to make sure your rights are protected by professionals.