Keeping Cyclists Safe
We recently reported on California’s new “Three-foot Rule.” This law requires automobile drivers to remain at least three feet from cyclists while passing them on roadways. Additionally, if they are unable to keep that distance while passing, drivers are required to slow down. Lawmakers and citizens are hoping this new law will help to keep cyclists safe.
Just the Facts
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 677 pedal cyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2011. Additionally, 48,000 pedal cyclists were injured in crashes. Pedalcyclist fatalities accounted for two percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2011. The number of cyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes actually went up from 2010 when 623 people were killed. The NHTSA also found that the majority of cyclist deaths happened in urban areas, between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 7:59 p.m.
What Can Drivers Do?
• Share the road with cyclists.
• Give them at least three feet of space when passing.
• Expect the unexpected.
• Never drive distracted.
• Look before getting out of your car.
• Watch for cyclists and exercise extra caution before making turns.
Before hitting the road, bicyclists should always take the proper safety precautions. It’s important to get a safety-rated helmet that is made specifically for cycling. Equally important, a helmet should be properly fitted. Many cyclists also wear protective gloves, safety footwear, and reflective clothing. The use of safety gear can help to reduce or mitigate potential injuries in the event of a crash.
In addition to protective gear and reflective clothing, cyclists need to ride proactively to stay safe. Cyclists should always follow the rules of the road and remain vigilant for road hazards and dangerous drivers. Communicating with drivers is also an important part of safely cycling on the road. In addition to being seen, riders can communicate their intentions to drivers. The use of eye contact and hand signals can greatly help in keeping drivers aware of cyclists.
Where traffic-related crashes are concerned, bicyclists are at an increased risk for injuries and death, so it’s up to everybody to keep roadways safe. Drivers and cyclists can both take measures to ensure the safety of each other on the roads.