Every year, bicycle accidents cause serious injuries and take lives in the State of Colorado. Being on a bike makes you vulnerable to serious and life-threatening injuries as the cyclist. Our Denver car accident lawyers understand that unfortunately, motor vehicle drivers often make mistakes and behave carelessly behind the wheel – increasing your risk of getting into a bicycle accident. Learning the most common causes of bicycle collisions that our Denver personal injury lawyers have seen many cases of may enable you to avoid this type of disaster.
Distracted driving has become more and more of an issue in recent years due to on-the-go technologies such as cell phones and infotainment systems. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving took at least 3,142 lives in 2020. Many of these victims were bicyclists who were struck by vehicles when a driver wasn’t paying attention to the road.
Although texting and driving is banned in Colorado (and cell phone use of any type is prohibited for drivers under the age of 18), many drivers break these rules. Other common driver distractions are eating and drinking, looking at a map or GPS, personal grooming, talking to passengers, and pets and children in the car. You may be able to spot a distracted driver and steer clear on your bike if the driver is drifting in and out of lanes, braking and accelerating erratically, making short stops, or looking down at his or her lap.
Colorado’s right-of-way laws can be confusing for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Bicyclists are grouped with motorists, not pedestrians, in the eyes of the law. This means they are subject to the same traffic and right-of-way laws as drivers. At a stop sign, a bicyclist must come to a complete stop and yield the right-of-way to a driver that approached the intersection first. If the biker approaches first, a driver must stop and wait for the cyclist to proceed.
There may be different right-of-way rules at roundabouts and intersections with merging lanes. In these scenarios, thru traffic (vehicles already in the roundabout or on the main road) generally have the right-of-way, and the motorists and bicyclists joining existing traffic must yield. It is against the law for drivers and cyclists to fail to yield by running red lights or rolling through stop signs.
Driver Inattention During Turns
Intersections are dangerous for all road users and common settings for bicycle accidents in Colorado. Our bicycle accident lawyers in Aurora have handled numerous accident cases involving driver inattention at intersections. Drivers running through the intersection without stopping is not the only risk to bicyclists; making right and left turns can also cause a bicycle accident if the driver isn’t careful or breaks the law.
For example, when making a left turn, a driver with a green light must yield to oncoming traffic in the opposite lane, including cyclists. If a driver fails to see an oncoming bicycle or misjudges its speed or distance, the driver may turn directly in front of or into the bicyclist. When making a right turn, a driver must yield to people who are crossing the destination road. Depending on the location and the laws regarding bikes on sidewalks, this may include cyclists. A cyclist may also be proceeding straight across the intersection in a bicycle lane.
What is Dooring?
Dooring is a special type of accident that is unique to bicyclists. It refers to a motor vehicle driver opening his or her door into an oncoming bicyclist, causing the rider to collide with the open door and often be propelled off the bike. A driver has a duty to check his or her mirrors and look to see if there is a biker in the lane before opening the door. Drivers should never park in the middle of a bicycle lane, even for just a few minutes while loading or unloading.
If you get involved in a bicycle collision in Colorado, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault driver. Discuss your legal options with our Aurora bicycle accident lawyer at Manning Law for more information. Contact our law firm today to schedule your free consultation with an attorney.