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How Distracted Driving Heavily Contributes to Bicycle Accident Injuries

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Bicycle Accident Injuries

Bicycling is a fun and eco-friendly method to travel. Not to mention, it’s good for your health! With California’s pleasant weather for most of the year, millions of bicyclists can be found traveling throughout the state at any given time.

Unfortunately, what starts out as an enjoyable bike ride for many Californians can quickly turn tragic. According to some statistics, California’s bike fatalities are 33.3% higher than the national average. Cyclist death statistics do not even factor in serious and minor injuries. Of all bike-related fatalities, an astounding 58% were caused by distracted motorists.

If you or a loved one suffers injury or wrongful death due to the carelessness of a motorist, the caring and compassionate attorneys at Ellis Helm want to help you. Our law firm is dedicated to helping injury victims get the compensation and support they need after suffering a serious injury. Contact a bicycle accident lawyer at Ellis Helm today at 951-875-6865 to schedule a free case evaluation.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving occurs when motorists lose focus on the road, either actively or passively, engaging in other activities. Most driving distractions are categorized into three main types of distractions: manual, visual, and cognitive. Drivers who engage in any of the following increase the risk of hitting bicyclists traveling on shared roadways.

Manual Distractions

When a driver takes one or both hands off the wheel to do something else, this is referred to as a manual distraction. Common activities that can lead to a crash include eating, drinking, looking at a map, plugging in addresses in GPS, fiddling with car controls, and using a phone, to name a few.

Visual Distractions

Drivers taking their eyes off the road to look at something other than the road are engaging in visual distractions. Common forms of these include looking at maps or GPS systems, looking for items that drop to the floor, turning to speak to children in the back seat, looking at a phone, or even admiring scenery or looking at another incident outside.

Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions occur when drivers lose sight of what they are doing. Common ways this happens include daydreaming, having conversations with other people in the vehicle, addressing children’s behavior in the back seat, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In our modern day, one of the most significant driver distractions is smartphones. Using phones while driving is a recipe for disaster. This is because a phone combines all three types of distractions, and use of them while behind the wheel can quickly turn deadly or cause serious injury.

Why are Cyclists at High Risk from Distracted Drivers?

Distracted driving is dangerous for everyone traveling on the road, but especially for bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians who do not have the protective elements a car provides surrounding them in the event of a collision. Motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs, are heavy pieces of equipment, and the force of them hitting an unprotected bicyclist can be devastating.

Distracted driving directly affect cyclists due to other factors as well. For instance, if a driver isn’t paying full attention on the road, they may:

  • Not check their blind spot and hit your bicycle
  • Lose sufficient time to respond to your bike’s maneuvers on the road
  • Drive through a traffic light or stop sign and collide into you and interfere with your right-of-way

These are only a handful of the ways a motorist can harm you on your bicycle. It is also important to remember that as a cyclist, you have a responsibility to avoid your own distractions. Do not ride using headphones that filter out important signals and sounds, stay off your phone, and don’t get caught up in the scenery.

Common Injuries Bicyclists Suffer

The sheer force of a car, even one not traveling at high speed, can cause serious injury to a bicyclist if the vehicle hits them. Common injuries bicyclists tend to suffer include:

This list is not a comprehensive one but provides a good overview of the types of challenges bicycle injury accident victims face on a daily basis. Many of these injuries can take a long time to heal or have long-lasting or permanent effects on your life.

How Can You Prevent Injury While Cycling?

While you cannot control how other drivers on the road act when operating a motor vehicle, you can be proactive and take precautions to help prevent injury to yourself.

  • Always wear a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) certified bike helmet
  • Stay aware of your surroundings, be alert and vigilant at all times
  • Use lights, bells, and reflectors when driving your bike on California roadways
  • Don’t drift out of your bike lane; be conscious of where you’re supposed to be when riding your bike
  • Stay off your phone and avoid other distracting activities while navigating your bike
  • Obey all traffic laws

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent injury, but taking the above steps to decrease the chances of a car or truck hitting you while you’re enjoying your bike ride can go a long way.

What to Do If a Distracted Driver Hits You

In the event a distracted driver knocks you from your bike, the first thing you want to do is get off the road to safety (if you’re able to move) and call the police. It is important to make sure you’re safe, out of the way of other cars, and not suffering severe injury. If you have obvious injuries, let 911 know you need medical treatment immediately. Other things you should do include the following.

Gather evidence

Gather evidence relating to the accident as soon as possible. Get the name, address, phone number, and insurance company of the driver who hit you. Also, note down the make, model, and color of the car, along with the license plate.

If you’re unable to gather evidence, ask an eyewitness or someone else to do it for you. Take photographs and videos and gather names and contact information from people witnessing the accident. Evidence of crashes tends to disappear the longer you wait to gather it, so any initial evidence you can obtain will prove useful later on.

Obtain Medical Treatment

Even if you feel fine, after you leave the accident scene, be sure to see your physician for an examination. This way, you can make certain you aren’t suffering from severe internal injuries, traumatic brain injury, or other hidden injuries.

Call a Bicycle Accident Attorney

As soon as you can, call an experienced California bicycle accident attorney. Your lawyer can investigate the accident, gather additional evidence and documentation, examine your options, and provide sound legal advice. Your legal advocate will ensure you aren’t alone in the process and will make certain your rights are protected.

How Much is a Bicycle Accident Settlement Worth?

Without knowing the specifics of a case, it is hard to determine the worth of a bicycle accident claim. Each case is different. Additionally, it is common for bike accident victims to experience long recoveries, making it difficult to ascertain how long they might be out of work, the extent of medical treatment required, and if the injury will reduce their future earnings capacity. Your attorney will collect documentation, assemble your case, consider your current and potential economic and non-economic damages, and go from there.

Are You Suffering Due to a Distracted Driver That Hit You? 

If you or a loved one experienced the trauma of a bicycle accident and sustained injuries, it is in your best interest to contact a bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can deal with the insurance companies and, if necessary, file a bicycle accident lawsuit. You won’t need to deal with these logistics and can focus on your healing.

To learn more, call the caring personal injury advocates at Ellis Helm today at 951-875-6865 to schedule a free consultation. Your well-being is our top priority. The members of our legal team understand the trauma, fear, and uncertainty you’re experiencing and want to ease your burdens. We will fight tirelessly on your behalf and work to see you and your loved ones receive justice.