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Bicycle Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers

Bicycling is a great way to get around, especially as the infrastructure in our cities continues to become more friendly to cyclists. However, when you cycle through a developed area, you will inevitably be doing so in the presence of passenger vehicles, which are much larger, faster, and heavier than you and your bicycle. Unfortunately, not all drivers are as prudent as they should be when driving around cyclists, and many engage in distracted driving behaviors that can cause accidents.

The attorneys at Slappey & Sadd have represented many cyclists who have been injured in collisions with automobile drivers who were not paying attention. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident caused by a distracted driver, you might want to look into having an experienced personal injury attorney review your situation to determine what your best options are. Hiring a legal professional is a great way to ensure that you will have a strong advocate for your interests if you decide to take on a negligent driver or their insurance company.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving happens when a driver partakes in any activity while driving that takes their attention away from the road. Most driving distractions can be divided into three main types: manual, visual, and cognitive.

Manual distractions are activities that cause a driver to take one or both hands off of the steering wheel. These behaviors include texting, eating and drinking, and searching through purses or bags. Visual distractions are activities that cause a driver's eyes to wander away from the road, including looking for items that are on the floor of the car, checking GPS systems, and admiring the view. Cognitive distractions are activities that cause a driver's mind to drift away from the task of driving, including talking to other passengers, daydreaming, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A driver who is engaging in any of the above activities is at a much greater risk of hitting a bicyclist than a driver who is devoting their full attention to driving.

Cyclist Deaths by Distracted Drivers are Increasing

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of distracted driving injuries and deaths has been increasing rapidly over the years, mainly due to the proliferation of texting. In 2015 alone, distracted driving was responsible for 3,477 total deaths, 3,196 fatal car wrecks, and 391,000 injuries. The NHTSA also estimated that an average of 660,000 drivers were using an electronic device while behind the wheel during the daytime that same year.

For cyclists, the evidence suggests that the risk of being struck by a distracted driver is increasing. According to a study by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the number of cyclists struck and killed by distracted drivers increased from 56 in 2005 to 73 in 2010-a 30% increase. The victims of fatal bicycle accidents caused by distracted driving in this sample were 83% male and between the ages of 25 and 64. The study also found that about half of all pedestrian and bicycle fatalities caused by distracted driving occurred during the daytime hours.

Types of Bicycle Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers

It is difficult to pin down every different way that a distracted driver might cause a bicycle accident, but some of the most common scenarios we see in which drivers strike cyclists and cause injury include:

  • Failing to yield the right of way in an intersection: This type of accident occurs when a vehicle and a cyclist collide at a 90-degree angle in an intersection even though the cyclist had the right of way.
  • Sideswiping: A sideswiping accident occurs when a car gets too close to a cyclist traveling to the right of the car and strikes them.
  • The right hook: A right hook accident occurs when a car is traveling in the driving lane to the left of the cyclist and takes a sudden right turn, causing the cyclist to collide with the side of the car.
  • The right cross: The right cross is also very common, and occurs when a car pulls out from the right from a street, parking lot, or driveway, and either hits the cyclist or the cyclist hits the car.
  • The left cross: The left cross accident occurs when a car is traveling in the opposite direction from the cyclist and makes a left turn across the cyclist's path and strikes them.
  • The door prize: A "door prize" accident occurs when a car that is parallel parked opens a driver-side door in front of a cyclist, causing the cyclist to hit it or be forced into the path of a moving car.

Some of these types of accidents, including the left cross and hitting a cyclist in an intersection, involve a high degree of visibility between the driver and the cyclist. This makes one wonder why a driver would hit a cyclist if they were clearly visible. The answer is that, in most cases, the driver was distracted.

Common Injuries Cyclists Suffer
  • Broken and fractured bones: The force of a speeding car crashing into a bicycle can often throw the cyclist from the bicycle, causing them to break and fracture arm bones, leg bones, hands, feet, and their clavicle when they hit the ground.
  • Bruises, cuts, and scrapes: Depending on how fast the vehicle was going when it struck the cyclist, the force of the impact can cause severe bruising, cuts, and scrapes that can take many weeks or even months to heal.
  • Head and brain injuries: Brain injuries are caused when an outside force causes damage to the head, most often through a violent blow or from hitting the pavement after being knocked from a bicycle. The risk of suffering a devastating brain injury increases dramatically if the cyclist is not wearing a helmet.
  • Spinal cord injuries: A spinal cord injury results from damage to the vertebrae, ligaments, and disks in the spinal column and spinal cord, and are most often the results of a sudden and traumatic blow to the spine.
  • Road rash: Road rash is an injury that is caused when the skin is exposed to the pavement at high speeds. When a cyclist is thrown from their bike after being hit by a car, they will often skid across the pavement before coming to a stop. This skidding creates friction and heat, which can cause burn-like injuries to the skin.
Contact an Atlanta Distracted Driving Bicycle Accident Attorney

If you have been injured by a distracted driver while you were riding your bike, you may be able to recover for your injuries. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Fulton County including Lagrange, Rossville, and Columbus.

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