Sharing the Road is Everyone’s Responsibility
As the weather gets even warmer, and families travel for summer vacation, the federal government is urging drivers to share the road -- because the alternative can be deadly.
Motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians have the same rights to use the roads as drivers do, while facing the unique safety challenges of being smaller and less visible.
Fatalities of motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians from crashes with cars have increased in the past 10 years, according to a recent post by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Their data shows:
- In 2017, crashes with vehicles killed 5,172 people on motorcycles. That’s a 3.1 percent decrease from 2016, but motorcycle fatalities in urban areas increased 15 percent from 2008-2017.
- In 2017, crashes with cars killed 783 bicyclists, up from 718 in 2008. That’s up 65, or 9 percent.
- In 2017, traffic crashes killed 5,977 pedestrians, up from 4,414 in 2008. That’s an increase of 1,563, or over 35 percent. Of the 2017 pedestrian deaths, 214 were children.
Crash prevention tips
Tips for drivers include:
- Slow down and prepare to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk because people you can’t see might be crossing
- Use extra caution when backing up across sidewalks or in parking lots
- Watch for riders of motorcycles and bikes when making left turns at intersections
- Remember upon encountering motorcyclists on roadways that they must downshift and weave to avoid bumps and road hazards
Pedestrians and riders of motorcycles and bikes also bear safe-operating responsibilities on the road.
As with drivers, those riding motorcycles and bikes must obey traffic signs and signals. Ride defensively, assuming others cannot see you, and avoid getting distracted by music, smartphones or anything else that takes your focus off the road.
Bicyclists should ride with traffic, use existing bike lanes and avoid riding on sidewalks when possible.
Pedestrians should also abide by traffic signs and signals. In areas without sidewalks, walk facing traffic and as far from cars as possible.
Always cross streets at crosswalks when they’re available because drivers know to watch for pedestrians there.
On areas of roadways that lack crosswalks, pedestrians should cross at a well-lit place to increase visibility to drivers.
Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely and continue watching for traffic as you cross.
Stay alert while out walking on roadways, meaning don’t get distracted by electronic devices like smartphones that shift your eyes and ears from the road.
Don’t assume a driver sees you. Try to make eye contact with an approaching driver to ensure the driver notices a pedestrian is there.
Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots.
In 2015, there were 4,976 motorcyclists killed, an increase of 8 percent, or 382, from the 4,594 motorcyclists killed in 2014.
Safe motorcycle riding means wearing a helmet. In states without helmet laws, 58 percent of the motorcyclists killed in 2015 were not wearing helmets.
On the wearing of helmets for motorcyclists, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is blunt: “You are needlessly increasing your risk of serious injury or death by not wearing a helmet.”
More safety tips for drivers, motorcyclists, bike riders and pedestrians are available with simple searches on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Contact David J. Glatthorn Personal Injury Law today for help with sharing-the-road accidents or other vehicle-crash or personal injury cases. You can call, email, chat online or visit him in person.