Florida roads are some of the most dangerous in the country for cyclists and pedestrians. In fact, the death rate for bicycle accidents in Florida is three times the national rate, and the largest cities in Florida are the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in America. In West Palm Beach and nearby cities, local mayors have joined the USDOT Mayor’s Challenge program for safer streets. While improvements are underway, drivers can make a difference right now.
How You Can Help
There are many factors involved in safety for cyclists and pedestrians, including auto design and city planning, but drivers will always be the first line of defense. As the driver of a car or truck, there are many things you can do to keep people safe including:
- Know the Laws: Both cyclists and motorists have rights and responsibilities defined by law. Often, drivers do not realize that cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities to use the roads. The safest place for cyclists is sharing the road with motorists and following all traffic laws. Florida, like many other states also has a three-foot law, which requires motorists to provide three feet of space between their vehicle and any cyclist.
- Understand the Physics: The forces at play in a bicycle accident are extreme. Most cars weight about two tons, while a bike only weighs about 20 pounds. Cyclists do not have the benefit of airbags or crumple zones, and a helmet can only go so far in preventing catastrophic injuries. In any collision between a car and a cyclist, the cyclist is going to lose, so driving a car carries an extra level of responsibility.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Cyclists are more vulnerable because they are much smaller than cars. Drivers are used to watching for other vehicles, but often they don’t consider cyclists, pedestrians, or even animals that may enter the roadway unexpectedly. As a conscientious driver, it is your responsibility to watch not only the road, but areas beyond as well. Using your cell phone or other distractions can be deadly. Another common cause of accidents between motorists and cyclists is opening car doors without checking the bike lane first.
As a motorist, dealing with cyclists may be frustrating, but remembering that cyclists have as much right to use the road as motorists can make the difference between life and death.
If you have been involved in an accident between a car and a bicycle, please call the Romano Law Group at 561-533-6700 today for your free legal consultation. We serve clients throughout Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, Florida.