As a motorist, you know that you have to share the road with cyclists, but it can be difficult on rural roads. City streets often have bike lanes and more room to allow cyclists to coexist with vehicles. Rural roads don’t always have as much space for cyclists, and sometimes they don’t even have a shoulder.
When a motorist collides with a cyclist, it can result in catastrophic injuries or cause death. If you or someone you love has been a victim of a bicycle accident, then you already know how devastating these collisions can be. In order to avoid getting into a wreck with a cyclist, drivers should follow these tips to avoid collisions.
If you’re flying down the road or around a corner and you suddenly see a cyclist, you won’t have enough time to react. Your negligence could cause a collision. When you’re on rural roads and you see a cyclist, slow down and make sure that you can safely pass the cyclist.
When the oncoming lane is clear, or any other lane to the left of you is clear, you can pass the cyclist, but you cannot drive faster than the posted speed limit to pass the cyclist. Speeding can put the cyclist at greater risk. If you strike them, they don’t have the protection of a car to absorb the impact and lessen their chances of injuries. They will be directly hit, and their injuries will likely be more severe than they would be in a typical car accident.
Give Them Space
If you were riding a bike and a large vehicle was traveling too closely to you, how would you feel? The answer —not great. When you’re driving and you see a cyclist, make sure you give them plenty of space so they feel comfortable and so you can avoid hitting them. The rule in Illinois is to have 3 feet between you and the bicycle when you are passing the cyclist.
Rural roads can be narrow and windy, which can pose a problem for cars and bicycles trying to coexist on the road. That’s why leaving plenty of room between you and the cyclist is important. If you follow a cyclist too closely on a narrow road, you both have nowhere to go except into each other if an emergency occurs. Leaving space between you and the bicycle until you can safely pass gives you both time to stop or room to maneuver if a road hazard causes the cyclist to have to move into the lane.
Once you find a safe place to pass the cyclist, Illinois law requires that you leave three feet of room between you and the cyclist, but you should give them more if you can.
Only Pass on Straightaways
Trying to pass a cyclist on a curve or hill could prove deadly for both you and the cyclist if an unseen car is coming the other way, which could potentially cause a car accident and a bike accident. Rural roads can get windy and hilly, so it’s safest to wait until the road is straight and you can see as far as possible before trying to overtake a bicycle rider on the side of the road.
Much like any other time you’re behind the wheel, don’t look at your phone when you’re driving around cyclists. Any minor distraction could cause you to veer into the biker, which can be deadly. If you’re sharing the road with a cyclist, especially when it’s a rural road without a bike lane, limit your distractions so that you can be as alert as possible.
Since you’re used to looking for other cars in your blind spots, also be aware that cyclists could be hiding in your blind spots as well. Double and triple check your blind spots when you are driving around cyclists so you know where they are at all times and you can pay attention to their movements.
Watch for Arm Signals
While you’re paying attention to the location of cyclists on rural roads, you should also watch their arms for any signals because that is how they alert others on the road of where they intend to go at intersections.
Typically cyclists use their left arm for signals because it is more visible to motorists, so a left arm straight out means they are turning left, an upward right angle means they are turning right, and a downward right angle means stop. Sometimes they’ll use a straight right arm to signal a right turn as well. Paying attention to a cyclist’s body language and signals will help you know how to maneuver around them and avoid an accident.
Don’t Drive Aggressively Around Cyclists
Many drivers get annoyed or impatient when they have to share the road with a cyclist. While bicyclists have the same rights as drivers by law, some drivers may believe that they have a greater right to the road than a cyclist. This often leads to impatient or frustrated drivers driving aggressively (ie. speeding or tailgating a cyclist). They may try to intimidate the cyclist or make too much of an aggressive pass. This can lead to serious or fatal injuries. Drivers need to remember to maintain their cool and be patient when they encounter cyclists on the road.
Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP Can Help You
When you’ve been in a bike accident, a Peru bicycle accident lawyer can help you through the process of filing a legal claim against the negligent party. At Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP, we understand how difficult recovery can be after any accident. We will work diligently to ensure the appropriate steps are taken in your legal claim so you can focus on your recovery while we focus on recovering the compensation you deserve for the damages you suffered. Reach out to us today for a free consultation so that we can discuss your potential claim and your options moving forward.