In recent years, the number of cyclist accidents involving another vehicle have declined. While that’s great news, there are still an alarming number of accidents that could be avoided. Check out these five tips to help you avoid serious bike accidents and minimize your risks on the road.
1. Watch Out for Cars
Between 2008 and 2012, 3,300 cyclists were killed in accidents caused by a motor vehicle. Cars are also the number one culprit in non-fatal accidents for cyclists. The majority of crashes in both categories involved a rider being rear-ended.
The lesson here is to be aware of all other vehicles on the road. While it makes more sense that these drivers should watch out for you, especially with so many rear-end accidents, staying alerts to cars on the road is the best way to stay safe.
2. Watch Your Back
While you need to keep an eye out for cars in all directions, the statistics on rear-end accidents only get worse. Of the 3,300 fatal accidents, 45% involved a car traveling in the same direction as the cyclist. For non-fatal but serious accidents, the percentage is 40.
To help you watch your back, it’s an excellent idea to get rearview mirrors for your handlebars. Extra reflectors help for nighttime rides, and anything that helps your wheels make more noise is also advised. While you’re watching out for cars on the road, though, pay extra attention to those behind you.
3. Crossing Etiquette
The second highest fatal crash happens when a car runs into a bicycle crossing its path. The percentage drops significantly from rear-end collisions, 11% of fatal crashes happen when a cyclist is t-boned or perpendicular to the vehicle.
In this scenario, the driver also fails to see the cyclist. Avoiding this unfortunate scenario involves using your hand signals to alert other drivers of where you’re headed and making sure your bike is easily visible on the road.
4. Use Reflectors and Lights
With the two most common accidents being caused by drivers not seeing cyclists, the next safety tip is all about being seen. Most bicycles have a few reflectors, but you’ll need more than that to keep yourself safe on the road.
The best way to be seen is to utilize both reflectors and lights. So, the first step is to increase the numbers of reflectors on your bike. You should wear reflective clothing at night to increase visibility. Second, invest in front and rear lights for your bike. The combination makes you 51% safer, statistically.
Your reflectors should be placed so they make the sides and moving parts of your bike more visible to drivers on the road, helping to avoid perpendicular collisions. Rear lights or at least one for braking help you avoid any rear-end collisions. A light on the front is an excellent way to avoid front end collisions, even though they are less likely.
5. Stay Prepared
Adding lights is highly advised, but it isn’t quite enough. These lights often run on batteries, which you need to have with you in case a light runs out of juice. Even with a skilled car accident lawyer, local laws might pin the blame on you for being unprepared. While that might not be the case where you live, it’s better to stay on the right side of the law and stay safe than to find yourself in accident.