Cycling is not only a convenient and healthy way to get around in Florida, but it’s widely accepted as an effective means of reducing congestion on the road and improving the quality of our environment.
However, the relationship between drivers and cyclists in Florida has always been tinged with antagonism. Motorists often complain that cyclists don’t follow traffic laws. Conversely, cyclists feel that drivers are inconsiderate and unwilling to share the road.
While obviously this is not true across the board for both groups, it is absolutely true that many bicycle-car crashes in Florida can be attributed to reckless and negligent drivers. Unfortunately, when drivers engage in reckless or negligent behaviors, it is bicyclists’ safety that becomes the most compromised, with a high percentage of accidents resulting in serious injuries — and even death.
Given the fact that cyclists are surrounded by much larger, faster, and stronger vehicles, it’s no wonder that this is the case. How bad is it? In 2017, for instance, over 700 bicyclists in the US died in accidents with automobiles.
How are drivers responsible? Any person operating a motor vehicle on Florida roads has a duty of reasonable care to other road users — including cyclists.
Therefore, a driver who fails to act with reasonable care by, for instance, violating traffic laws can be charged with negligence if they hit a bicyclist as a result.
There are many different ways a driver’s negligence can cause a bicycle accident in Florida.
Driving While Intoxicated
Intoxication with either drugs or alcohol impairs a person’s driving capabilities in numerous ways. Intoxicated drivers are also less aware of other road users like bicyclists. It’s thus very easy for a drunk driver to drive right into a bicyclist on the road.
Making Dangerous Turns
Some drivers make the mistake of turning in front of an oncoming cyclist at an intersection. This can easily result in a crash — especially if the driver misjudged the speed of the cyclist.
A dangerous left-hand turn could potentially cut off the cyclist’s path and cause a collison. A right-hand turn, on the other hand, could easily knock over the cyclist or force him or her into the path of another oncoming vehicle. Either way, such dangerous turns may end up injuring or even killing the cyclist.
Refusing to Yield
Some drivers seem to think that they do not have to yield to bicyclists at all. Others neglect to yield because they were looking out for other vehicles on the road rather than bicycles. Either way, refusing to yield can lead to a crash.
Many drivers do not give bicyclists enough space when passing their bicycles on the road. Consequently, the cyclist may be side-swept by the vehicle’s side-view mirror. Also, if the vehicle is an unusually large one, it may cause a strong draft force that pushes the cyclist off the road or into traffic.
Not Looking in the Mirror as They Back Up
Sometimes, drivers pull out of their driveways or parking spaces without looking in their mirrors — or even over their shoulders. Such a driver may fail to see an oncoming bicyclist and end up hitting and injuring them.
Disregarding Dedicated Bicycle Lanes
When driving in Florida, you always have to watch out for bicyclists if you’re driving near bicycle lanes. In particular, extra care is needed at intersections and driveways.
Carelessly Opening Car Doors
When drivers park their vehicle parallel to the road, one of the things they’re supposed to do is check to see if there are any approaching bicyclists. If there are any, drivers must wait for them to pass before opening their door.
Unfortunately, inattentive drivers may barely glance into their mirrors before opening their car doors. A bicyclist who comes in hot will inevitably ride right into the open door. If the cyclist tries to swerve to avoid the door, they may end up swerving into oncoming traffic and causing an accident with a different vehicle.
Regardless of what happened in your particular situation, if you were injured in a car-bike accident due to the negligent actions of a driver, you owe it to yourself — and other cyclists — to fight for the compensation you need to recover and get back on the road. Do not allow yourself to simply become another statistic in Florida’s ever-growing number of bicycle crashes. File an injury lawsuit and you can shine a light on bad driver behavior and potentially keep others like you from having to endure a similar fate.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.