A bill is set to pass the Iowa House later this month that will require all bicycle riders to have a rear light either on their bicycle or on their person. Senate File 424 passed the Senate by an affirmative vote of 45-5 at the end of March. The bill passed a House committee and is awaiting a final vote at the House level before Governor Terry Branstad signs it into law.
The bill would require all riders to wear a rear light attached to their bikes or their helmets, clothing or backpacks. Failure to wear and illuminate the light from sundown to sunrise will result in a $25 fine. Riders will have a 72-hour window to provide proof that they have rear-facing lights to avoid the fine.
Legislators claim to have introduced the bill in the interest of public safety, not revenue generation through fines and included the grace period to allow bicyclists to correct safety precautions. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, our state has lost several bicyclists to fatal traffic accidents over the past three years, with five deaths in 2011, three deaths in 2012 and three in 2013.
The Importance of Illumination and Visibility to Bicyclists' Safety
Cars and other vehicles have the benefit of headlights and brake lights to improve their visibility at night. Bicyclists must take matters into their own hands to improve visibility by installing lights and reflectors on their bicycles and wearing them on their person.
Bicycles should have front-facing lights activated during times of low visibility such as during rainstorms, as well as during the time between sunset and sunrise. Reflectors should be attached to the sides of the wheels and rear of the bike to improve visibility. If you do not currently have a rear light installed on your bike, it is a good idea to invest in one now, even if the bill does not become law.
Riders should opt for light clothing or reflective tape on their riding clothes to improve their own visibility if they get off their bikes while near a road.
Being Seen by Motorists is an Important Part of Bicycle Safety
Bicycle lights and reflectors are an inexpensive, simple way to improve night visibility and help avoid traffic accidents. Unfortunately, even well-lit bikes can be involved in serious accidents with vehicles if drivers don't pay attention. If you or a loved one were injured by a car while riding your bicycle in Des Moines, Walker, Billingsley & Bair can help. Call our law firm at (888) 435-9886 or fill out our online contact form and schedule a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options for recovery of damages caused by a bike accident.