In Iowa, there were five pedalcyclist fatalities in the year 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Polk County had the most bicycle-car accidents in Iowa from 2009-2014. The goal is to reduce the number of bicyclist accident in the state to zero. If you’re a bicyclist, here are some of the most common types of bicycle accidents, and what you can do to prevent them from happening:
A Right Hook Accident
A right hook accident refers to an accident type where a car that’s making a right-hand turn turns into the path of the cyclist. Right hook crashes can happen at intersections, or when pulling out of a driveway or parking lot. Because some drivers fail to use their turn signals, knowing if a driver is going to make a turn in front of you, “hooking” you, can be challenging.
However, this accident type can be avoided if you’re biking consciously. One tip to avoid this accident type is to make sure that when stopped at a red light or stop sign, you always are slightly in front of vehicles in the right-hand lane.
This way, the motorist will have you in his or her direct vision. The other way to avoid this is never to pass a vehicle on the right, as it’s unlikely that the car will be expecting you if they decide to make a right turn. Instead, always pass on the left.
A "Dooring" Accident
A "dooring" accident can be very severe. This accident type occurs when a cyclist is riding in between the lanes of traffic and parked cars on the right-hand side of the road.
When a motorist opens a door on the left side of the vehicle unexpectedly, the door may either block the cyclist from continuing forward or slam directly into the cyclist. A car door accident may cause the cyclist to swerve, turning the bike into oncoming traffic.
Dooring accidents can be tough to avoid, especially when the distance between fast-moving traffic and parked cars is minimal. If a bike lane is available separate from the road, always choose this as the preferred route. Otherwise, always stay alert for parked cars, and slow down and pay attention when approaching one.
A Vehicle Turning Left
At an intersection, left-turning vehicles are usually required to yield (unless they have a green turn arrow) to oncoming traffic from the opposite direction. Unfortunately, bicyclists—especially when lighting is poor—can be much harder to see than other cars.
As such, a vehicle may assume that the road is clear, and make a left-hand turn directly into or in front of a cyclist passing straight through the light.
The best way to avoid this accident type is to make sure that your bike has a light and that you’re wearing bright colors; this will improve your visibility. Additionally, try to make eye contact with left-turning drivers before proceeding through an intersection. Also, don’t ride on the sidewalk as motorists don't check sidewalks for fast-moving vehicles.
Failure to Yield
The final most common type of bicycle accident occurs when the cyclist fails to yield to a vehicle in an intersection. It can be easy to misjudge an oncoming car’s speed and distance.
Make sure you always exercise caution when proceeding into an intersection. Even if you do have the right of way, double check before entering an intersection to ensure that you’re in the clear and that other drivers can see you.
Talk to a Lawyer if You’re in a Bicycle Accident
If you are in a bicycle accident in Iowa, the attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can handle all aspects of your case, including:
- Determining fault
- Filing your claim for damages against the insurance company
- Filing a lawsuit if your injuries are severe or if your claim is denied