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Distracted Driving Causes Many Bicycle Accidents

Bicycling is a great way to get around Charlotte. However, any time you bicycle in a crowded area, you will be doing so along with motor vehicles which are much larger, heavier, and faster than your bicycle. Not all motor vehicle drivers are as prudent and safe as they should be when driving around bicyclists. Unfortunately, many bicycle accidents are caused by distracted driving and could have been prevented if the driver was focusing on the road.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving happens when a driver engages in an activity that takes their focus away from the road. There are three main types of distracted driving — visual, manual, and cognitive. Manual distraction is any activity that causes a driver to take one or both hands off the steering wheel. Manual distractions include eating and drinking, searching through a bag or purse, texting, or trying to help children or pets in the car.

Visual distraction includes any activity that causes a driver's eyes to wander away from the road, including checking the GPS systems, admiring the view, and finding items that have fallen on the floor. Finally, cognitive distractions involve a driver's mind losing focus on the task of driving. Talking to other passengers, staring out the window, daydreaming, and being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can all cause cognitive distraction. Drivers engaged in any of these types of distractions are much more likely to negligently collide with a bicycle driver than those paying attention to the road.

Distracted Driving Can Cause Fatal Bicycle Accidents

U.S. traffic deaths have increased significantly in 2021 and are on track to remain high for 2022. according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. traffic deaths increased by 10.5 percent in 2021. Last year, 42,915 Americans died in traffic accidents. The number of people killed in bicycle accidents increased by 5% to 985. This is the highest number of bicycle fatalities since 1975.

The deaths caused by preventable traffic injuries surged after the COVID-19 lockdown ended in 2020. It appears as though more drivers are engaged in unsafe behavior, including distracted driving. Some studies have found that speeding and driving without a seatbelt were more common in 2021. Cyclists are affected by distracted drivers to a significant degree. They do not have any outward protection from motor vehicles that collide with them apart from a helmet and any clothes they are wearing.

Types of Bicycle Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers

There are many ways that a distracted driver can cause a bicycle accident. Some of the most common scenarios involving distracted drivers include the following:

  • Failing to yield the right of way in an intersection
  • A motor vehicle gets too close to a cyclist traveling to the right of the vehicle and strikes the cyclist
  • A right hook accident happens when a vehicle is in the driving lane to the left of the cyclist and takes a sudden right turn, causing the bicycle to collide with the side of the vehicle
  • Right cross accidents that happen when a vehicle pulls out from the right of a street, driveway, or parking lot and collides with a cyclist or the cyclist hits the vehicle
  • The left cross accident occurs when a vehicle is traveling in the opposite direction from the cyclist and makes a left turn across the cyclist's path, striking them
  • The door prize accident occurs when a vehicle is parallel parked and opens the driver's side door in front of a cyclist. This type of accident is also called a “dooring” accident
Injuries Commonly Suffered by Bicycle Accident Victims

Cyclists do not have any airbags or the protection of a motor vehicle's metal frame. Even when a cyclist is wearing a helmet, they can suffer serious injuries including broken bones, bruises, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, and road rash.

Reach Out to a North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, have represented many cyclists who have been injured in collisions with drivers who were distracted and not paying attention. If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident caused by a distracted driver, we recommend discussing your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney will be able to review your situation and help you understand your legal options. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our personal injury attorneys have a proven track record of successfully obtaining compensation for clients just like you. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

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