Who’s to Blame – Motorists or Bicyclists?
Bicycle accidents aren’t all that uncommon. In 2018, 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents. Thousands more sustained injuries – big and small. Why are accidents happening and who’s to blame?
In truth, bicycle riders or motorists can be responsible for causing an auto accident in Waco. Another third party – such as a pedestrian, product manufacturer, or government agency – might also be at fault. It’s also possible that more than one party – including cyclists and motorists – contribute to a crash.
When you drive a car in Waco, you have a responsibility to do so safely. You have to use caution and navigate your vehicle in a way that doesn’t put others at risk. This duty of care isn’t just owed to occupants of other cars on the road. You also have to be mindful of bicyclists, pedestrians, and anyone else who might happen to be traveling alongside you.
Not all drivers engage in safe driving practices. Many engage in behaviors that significantly increase the risk of an accident. Motorists might be at fault for a bike accident if they:
- Fail to leave an adequate amount of space between their vehicle and a bike when passing
- Failing to yield the right of way to bicyclists
- Driving too fast under the circumstances
- Driving while distracted by their phone, passengers, or other things
- Driving while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or
- Drive too aggressively when approaching and passing through intersections.
If the driver of a motor vehicle in Waco does any of these things and causes an accident, they might be financially liable for resulting harm.
Bicyclists can also be responsible for causing accidents in which they’re involved. Bicyclists might be allocated fault for an accident or their injuries if they:
- Ride against traffic
- Fail to have appropriate safety devices attached to their bikes
- Ignore or fail to follow traffic safety laws
- Cross through intersections against a red light or traffic signal
- Fail to yield the right of way to motorists and pedestrians, when appropriate
- Fail to wear a helmet, or
- Operate a bicycle while distracted, fatigued, or impaired.
When a bicyclist causes an accident, they might find that (a) their ability to recover compensation is compromised and (b) they’re on the hook for damages sustained by other parties.
What Are the Bike Laws in Waco, Anyway?
When bicyclists hit the road in Waco, they’re required to obey state and local traffic laws. Texas has specific laws that pertain to bicyclists. Notable requirements for bike riders include:
- Bicyclists have the rights and duties of other vehicle operators.
- Bicyclists must ride close to the curb and ride in the same direction as other vehicles.
- Bicyclists must have at least one hand on the handlebars.
- Bicyclists must use hand and arm signals to communicate with other motorists.
- Bicyclists can ride next to one another in the road, but only if they do not impede traffic.
- Bicycles must be outfitted with a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back if they’ll be used at night.
- Only one person may ride on a bicycle seat at one time.
- Bicyclists cannot attach a sled, toy vehicle, or roller skates to their bike.
Bicyclists who ignore or disobey these traffic laws can be considered negligent – and financially liable – if they get into an accident.
Texas Drivers Required to Move Over or Leave Space While Passing Bicyclists
Bicycle riders are safest when they have dedicated, protected bicycle lanes. When there’s a physical barrier between bicycles and vehicles, accidents are less likely to occur. Unfortunately, many cities – including Waco – weren’t designed with bicyclists in mind. The roads in Waco are designed to accommodate high-speed traffic and motorists. So, adding in protected bike lanes is tough.
The city came up with an alternative that’s designed to keep riders safe. Waco has an ordinance that protects “vulnerable road users.” Among other things, the law mandates that:
- Motorists have to change lanes to pass bicyclists, if possible
- Motorists must leave a cushion of at least three feet when passing vulnerable road users
- Commercial vehicles must leave a cushion of at least six feet when passing cyclists, and
- Motorists may not pull out in front of a cyclist or make a right-hand turn that would create a hazard.
The law also makes it a Class C misdemeanor to throw things at or otherwise harass cyclists.