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Preventing Automobile / Bicycle Accidents in Nevada

December 07, 2018
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On Friday, October 26, a cyclist was struck by a vehicle in the Las Vegas area. The cyclist, who had been riding a mountain bike, was critically injured and was transported to University Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. The incident took place on Decatur Boulevard around 6 p.m. The motorist was driving a 1989 Honda Accord and was not impaired. [1]

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Cyclists, who share the road with cars yet take up much less space, are extremely vulnerable to injury. According to the Nevada Department of Transportation,  in 2010 alone there were 583 crashes in Nevada involving bicycles, resulting in six deaths. Most bike crashes occurred on Tuesday or Wednesday between the hours of noon and 9 p.m. In roughly 15% of these accidents the cyclist was crossing the road improperly, and in 12% the cyclist was on the wrong side of the road, riding against traffic. This leaves 73% of accidents in which a cyclist was struck while following the law and riding with traffic. [2]

Distracted driving is the cause of many accidents involving cyclists. Distracted driving is defined as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system…” etc. [3] Motorists reach to answer their phones or change the radio station, and when they look up it’s too late to avoid hitting the bike commuter making a legal unprotected left turn. Distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in 2016 alone. [4]

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about distracted driving is that it is completely preventable. Several states have implemented laws that attempt to limit opportunities for distracted driving. Sixteen states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phone devices while driving. This is a primary enforcement law, meaning that an officer can pull over and cite a driver for using a cell phone without witnessing any other traffic offense. Forty-seven states have banned text messaging for all drivers. [5]

Despite laws that are intended to protect pedestrians and cyclists, accidents occur every day. As you might expect, when a car strikes a bicyclist, the cyclist is much more likely to incur an injury. If you regularly ride your bike on the road, make sure take responsibility for your own safety by taking a few simple precautions. Wear a properly-fitted helmet and ride carefully. Ride with traffic, stay focused and alert, assume that drivers don’t see you, and never engage in distracted biking (don’t try to text or listen to music while biking). [6]

If, despite taking reasonable precautions, you are struck by a vehicle while riding your bike, stay calm. Quickly move out of the street to avoid further injury. Keep the driver there if you can, and call the police. Collect the driver’s information and take lots of photos. Once you’ve spoken with the police, start an insurance claim and call a lawyer to make sure you know your rights. [7]

[1] https://lasvegassun.com/news/2018/oct/27/bicyclist-struck-by-car-in-central-las-vegas-criti

[2] https://www.nevadadot.com/home/showdocument?id=4742

[3] https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving

[4] https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving

[5] https://www.ghsa.org/state-laws/issues/Distracted-Driving

[6] https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicycle-safety

[7] https://www.citylab.com/life/2015/05/what-to-do-when-youre-hit-by-a-car/393809