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10 North Carolina Bicycle Laws You Should Know

There is a common misconception that different traffic rules apply to cyclists and motor vehicle drivers, but this is not always true. Cyclists have many of the same rights as motorists while driving on the road. Approximately 130,000 cyclists become injured in collisions on the roads in the United States every year. Many injured cyclists do not understand their rights under North Carolina law. This can lead to a cyclist who has been injured in a collision not receiving the proper legal defense they deserve. The following these ten rules will ensure that you are in compliance with North Carolina traffic laws.

  • Children Must Wear Helmets
  • In North Carolina, all children under 16 who are riding a bicycle must wear helmets. North Carolina is one of only 12 states that require kids under 16 to wear helmets, and it is recommended that adults wear helmets, but not required. Parents and legal guardians of children who knowingly allow a child under 16 to ride without a helmet can be fined.

  • Lighting Required at Night
  • Cyclists must have a light on the front of their bicycle when they ride after the sun goes down. The light needs to be seen from a distance of at least 300 feet. The bicycle must also have a red reflector or light on the back that can be seen from at least 200 feet.

  • Stay Off Fully Controlled Interstates
  • Under North Carolina law, cyclists cannot ride on fully controlled-access highways. They are also prohibited from riding on limited-access highways.

  • Ride in the Direction of Traffic to the Right
  • Wrong-way bicycling is one of the leading causes of collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists. There are only a few exceptions, such as preparing for a left turn, moving to avoid an obstruction, and overtaking and passing another vehicle. Motorcyclists sometimes claim that bicycle riders should be charged with impeding traffic. However, the North Carolina regulation prohibiting driving so slow to impede traffic does not apply to cyclists. It only applies to motor vehicles. According to the North Carolina Driver Handbook, “cyclists usually ride on the right side of the lane but are entitled to the use of a full lane.”

  • Cyclists Are Protected When Drivers Are Passing
  • Drivers can only overtake and pass by a cyclist if at least two feet are left for the cyclist. There are times when motor vehicles cannot pass cyclists at all, such as at railroad grade crossings or intersections, when markers are signs indicate a no-passing zone, on the crest of a hill, or at the curve of a road where the driver cannot see at least five hundred feet ahead.

  • Stop for Stop Signs and Traffic Lights
  • Cyclists must wait until the traffic light turns green before they can continue. They also must come to a complete stop at a red light or stop sign.

  • Make Turns in the Appropriate Lane
  • Cyclists must make terms in the appropriate lane. For example, when a cyclist turns left, they must approach the extreme left-hand lane, and when turning right, they must approach as closely as possible to the right-hand curb.

  • Communicate With Built-in Signals or Hand Signals
  • A cyclist can communicate with hand signals by extending a hand and arm horizontally with a pointing forefinger to the left for a left-hand turn. They can point their hand and arm up word for a right-hand turn. For a stop, they can point their hand and arm downward. Communicating your intentions to the motor vehicles around you may reduce the likelihood that an accident will occur.

  • Remain at the Accident Scene
  • Cyclists who have been involved in an accident that causes property damage, injury, or death need to immediately stop and remain at the accident scene until law enforcement arrives. This law also applies to motor vehicle drivers involved in an accident.

  • Do Not Ride Your Bicycle While Intoxicated
  • Cyclists can receive a DWI for bicycling on public roadways while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Reach Out to a Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney

Suppose you are a cyclist involved in a collision with another bicycle, motor vehicle, or a pedestrian. In that situation, it is essential that you discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our team of attorneys have the skill and experience necessary to protect your rights. With so much at stake, it is essential to work with an attorney who understands the legal intricacies involved in North Carolina personal injury cases. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced attorney to learn more about your legal rights.

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