Defensive Driving Can Help Prevent Bike-Related Accidents

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles

In an era where the public is more conscious of healthy life choices, more people have changed their mode of transportation to get to work and run errands. In fact, the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau found there was a 60 percent increase in the number of bicyclists over the course of the last decade. As temperatures begin to warm and more Granite State residents bring out bikes this summer, the Insurance Center would like to share suggestions that can help keep roads safer for everyone.

“People have turned to bicycling in recent years because it is a healthy activity, it is environmentally friendly and it can save families money, especially when gas prices are incrementally rising,” said Robert J. Sammon, president of the Insurance Center. “Unfortunately, statistics would suggest that motorists may not know how to react to the increasing number of bicycles on the road.”

The surge of bicyclists has led to a spurt of accidents involving motor vehicles that some estimates suggest will reach 40,000 annually. A study published in Injury Prevention added weight to those findings by announcing bicycle accidents — both fatal and nonfatal — amounted to $237 million worth of emergency room visits and hospital admissions over the span of 17 years.

“By looking at the most common type of accidents, a major cause for concern is that motorists may not understand that bicyclists in many cases have the right of way,” Sammon said. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicyclists on the road have the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles.

To help motorists avoid bicycle-related accidents, here are some tips to help make New Hampshire roadways safer.

Pass bicycles with extra caution

Motorists should have at least four feet of space as they pass bicyclists. Extra caution is advised when children are on bikes because they can make spontaneous movements.

Treat bicyclists as if they were cars

Since bicyclists have the same rights as motor vehicles, drivers should yield to riders that have the right of way. This means motorists should be careful when switching lanes or taking turns.

Use caution when opening doors

When roads are wide enough, bicyclists ride closely to the right side of the road to let traffic pass. Motorists are encouraged to keep an eye out for bicycles that may be passing parked vehicles. Especially, since a collision with a door can cause serious harm to riders.

Know the hand signs

Bicyclists don’t have large brake lights or turning signals to grab motorists’ attention. Instead, they rely on hand gestures to switch lanes, make a stop, or avoid a pot hole. Learn some of the common hand signs so you know what to expect.

With more bicycles expected to be on the road in the future, we urge drivers to heed our safety tips. Driven to safeguard families from financial losses, the Insurance Center has been protecting area residents through competitively priced insurance policies. For other ways to protect your family this season, call or visit one of our locations.