New traffic laws aim to reduce crashes between motor vehicles and bicycles.
More and more Americans are bicycling to commute, to exercise, or simply to take part in the fun. This increasing number of bicyclists on the street has led to more crashes between cyclists and motor vehicles than ever before. As bike safety is of constant concern, Virginia lawmakers passed two new laws to promote safer roads. These laws went into effect on July 1, 2021.
The first law requires drivers to switch lanes if they cannot maintain a proper distance when passing cyclists. This includes moving over double-yellow lines when necessary and to allow for a safe passing distance. Virginia’s roadways and trails are not always friendly and safe for cyclists. Thus, lawmakers want to ensure that cyclists have plenty of space on the road to travel, especially when there is no bike lane, sidewalk, or shoulder.
Furthermore, the second law allows cyclists to now ride side-by-side in pairs along a single lane. Previous law states that cyclists can ride side-by-side but must travel in a single line to let motor vehicles pass. In large biking groups, this law creates a shorter distance for a driver to pass the cyclists compared to the previous single line. The goals of these laws are to promote safer conditions for cyclists and reduce crashes between vehicles and bikes on the road.
What You Can Do To Keep Roads Safe for Bicyclists
Crashes between cars and bicyclists can occur when a biker is brushed by a passing vehicle, struck by a vehicle turning, or hit when a vehicle opens their driver’s-side door. These crashes can also occur at intersections and while bikers are riding against traffic. To avoid crashes between you and a bicyclist, it’s important to take caution and practice these safe driving tips:
- Avoid distractions while driving. You should refrain from looking at your phone, texting, playing music too loud, or using anything that can distract you from the road and traffic.
- Drive defensively and obey the traffic safety laws. You should obey the speed limit, adjust speed for road conditions, and drive defensively to help avoid a crash with a cyclist.
- Use caution when turning, approaching intersections, or at stop signs and red lights. When you get to an intersection, it’s important to look both directions before making any turns. Bikers may not stop or may have to cross the street, so pay close attention to your surroundings before maneuvering. Also, double-check your mirrors and blind spots before turning.
- Don’t drive, block, or park in bike lanes. Bike lanes allow cyclists a safe path to travel in. Make sure you are providing them with a clear path.
- Check your mirrors before opening your door. If you are parking on a roadway, it’s important to check your mirrors before opening your door to avoid blocking paths and hitting any bicyclists.
As bicycle-related deaths peak in the summer months, cyclists and drivers are encouraged to take precautions and do their part to make roads a safer place for all travelers.
Contact a Car Crash Attorney TodayMotor vehicle crashes can lead to severe injuries and even death, especially when a crash involves a cyclist. An experienced car crash attorney at Price Benowitz, LLP may be able to review your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. If you have been injured in a crash or know someone who has been, contact our team today.