Be on the Lookout for Bicyclists and Pedestrians This Summer
Summer is finally here, and all of us are eager to get outside and stretch our legs. At last, we’re able to go for a relaxing walk around the block or a brisk bike ride throughout the neighborhood. But with all this bicycle and pedestrian traffic comes a need for increased awareness on the part of all motorists.
A World of Distraction
It’s easy to assume that we know how bicyclists and pedestrians are going to act, but they often fail to take motorists into account when crossing the street or working their way through a parking lot. Many times, they are in a totally different mindset than drivers — talking with their companions, texting on their phones, or admiring the scenery — which means that they might not notice oncoming traffic or adhere to traffic signals.
Additionally, many pedestrians and bicyclists wear headphones while they’re out and about, and some take to the streets on foot or by bicycle after they’ve been drinking ― both of which could lead to erratic, unpredictable movements and behaviors. It’s also important to note that bicycles must obey the same traffic laws as regular automobiles. They should always ride with the flow of traffic, whereas pedestrians should walk or jog towards traffic whenever sidewalks are unavailable.
Auto accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists are more common in urban areas due to the sheer volume of people and the heightened traffic. There are also far more traffic signals in these areas, which can cause confusion for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists — leading to accidents that could cause severe injury or even death. This despite the fact that motorists are required to yield to pedestrians who have entered a crosswalk.
One recent study showed that nearly one-third of pedestrians at “high-risk” intersections were listening to music, using a cell phone, or both. Those pedestrians who were texting while crossing were four times more likely to perform dangerous crossing behaviors, such as failing to look both ways or disregarding traffic signals. Additionally, distracted pedestrians took almost two seconds longer to cross the intersection than those who were focusing on their safety.
While these accidents occur more frequently in cities, they do occur in rural areas as well. Pedestrians and bicyclists tend to be even less attentive outside of town, and motorists are usually traveling at greater speeds.
Motor vehicle drivers play a role in the danger too: they tend not to look for bicyclists and pedestrians outside of an urban setting, especially after the sun has set. If one or both parties are distracted and vehicles are traveling at faster speeds, collisions can often carry deadly consequences.
Eyes on the Prize
Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists should all take extra precautions this summer to ensure everyone’s safety. Pedestrians should always observe traffic signals and crosswalks and only cross the road when they are alerted and feel safe to do so. If you are walking after dark, be sure to wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.
Bicyclists are required by law to use proper hand signals, yield to pedestrians, wear a helmet (required by Massachusetts law only for cyclists under 16, but strongly advised for everyone), and their bikes must be equipped with reflectors that are visible up to 600 feet from all sides.
Likewise, there are strict guidelines for motorists in Massachusetts that govern their interactions with bicycles and pedestrians. For instance, all vehicles must yield the right of way to a bicycle when making a left turn at an intersection. Similarly, if a traffic signal is out of order or is not in place at a crosswalk, motorists must yield the right of way.
Motorists must also keep a safe distance between their vehicles and any pedestrians or bicyclists, and are required to respect bike lanes.
The Law Offices of George A. Malliaros
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as the result of being struck by a motor vehicle, please contact the Law Offices of George A. Malliaros today. We have successfully represented many pedestrians and bicyclists who have suffered injuries as a result of collisions with motor vehicles, and are ready to put our experience to work for you.
Our contingent fee policy ensures that you will not pay any fees or expenses unless and until we are able to resolve your claim successfully. Please call us today at (800) 856-4449 or complete this brief contact form in order to receive a free consultation.
Please remember that there are strict timelines involved in personal injury claims, and the statute of limitations to file a claim is three years from the date of the accident. Contact us today so that we can begin working on your claim immediately.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Pedestrian Safety. CDC. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Pedestrian_safety/
Laws for Bicyclists and Motorists in the Presence of Bicycles: Rules of the Road. (2016). Registry of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved from http://www.massrmv.com/rmv/dmanual/chapter_4.pdf#page=26
Shaver, K. (2014, September 20). Safety experts to pedestrians: Put the smartphones down and pay attention. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/safety-experts-to-pedestrians-put-the-smartphones-down-and-pay-attention/2014/09/19/278352d0-3f3a-11e4-9587-5dafd96295f0_story.html