Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in California

In the Golden State, bicycle accidents are incredibly common – in fact, California had the highest number of bicyclist fatalities of any state in 2016, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Accidents are even more common in the Los Angeles area, where heavy commuter traffic and avid bicyclists come into contact with one another year-round in the Southern California sunshine.

At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we’re committed to providing skilled legal representation to injured bike riders throughout the Los Angeles area. It’s our goal to help you secure fair compensation when your life has been up-ended by a negligent driver – and applying over 50 years of experience to your case, we’ll aim to maximize your chances of success on a claim.

In this post, we’ll address some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents in California and review how you may be able to prevent them.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Cycling isn’t just a great way to get exercise: It’s also a cheap and eco-friendly alternative to traditional road vehicles. Because California is one of the more fitness- and eco-friendly states in the nation, an increasing number of its drivers are opting for bicycles instead of cars. The state’s metropolitan areas have also seen a massive increase in bicyclists over the years: A 2018 report by the California Department of Public Health found that bicycling in all U.S. cities rose by 71% between 2007 and 2013.

Unfortunately, the same report found that California bicyclist injury rates have steeply increased over that same timespan, moving from 21% in 2007 to nearly 35% in 2013. Whether caused by driver road rage or smartphone distraction, bicycle accidents are deadly for the rider far more often than they are for the driver, who is typically unharmed after a crash.

Here are some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents in California:

  • Lack of visibility: It can be difficult for drivers to see bicyclists, especially in the bright glare of the sun. Without brightly colored or reflective clothing, bicyclists can become invisible to busy L.A. commuters. Before you strap on your bike helmet, make sure that you’re donning something to mark you as visible to drivers.
  • Distracted driving: Over 3,000 people are killed each year because of distracted driving, due to recent increases in smartphone usage. While it can be difficult to prevent a collision with a distracted driver, keeping a close eye on cars that appear to be weaving or drifting could save your life.
  • “Dooring”: When a car driver opens their door unexpectedly, a passing bicyclist can slam into the door. This is called “dooring,” and it can result in severe injuries for cyclists. Make sure to maneuver carefully in crowded parking lots, and avoid swerving in-between lanes on the road.
  • Drunk and drugged driving: Although drunk driving rates in this state have decreased over the years, it’s still sadly a common enough occurrence in California. If you see someone who is zig-zagging and appears to be intoxicated, give them a wide berth.
  • Right-hook accidents: When you’re traveling in a straight line across an intersection, be extra wary of cars turning right on red. The League of American Bicyclists has found that over 6% of all fatal bicycle accidents are “right hook accidents,” due to driver inattention when making right turns.
  • Road rage: Bicyclists and car drivers are supposed to share the roads in harmony. However, many drivers do not realize that bicyclists have the same basic rights and responsibilities as they do. This misconception can lead to aggressive tailgating, honking, and other “road rage” behaviors intended to intimidate bicyclists – all of which can lead to a crash.

On Your Side After a Serious Bicycle Accident

If you’re injured in a serious bicycle accident, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in medical expenses, lost wages, and more. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we’ll provide the seasoned legal representation that you deserve after a crash. No matter the cause of your bike accident, we’ll get to the root of the collision and ensure that the negligent driver is held responsible for their actions.

Contact our team at (800) 462-7160 today for a free case consultation.