The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that, after reaching an all-time low in 2010, United States bicycle fatalities have been steadily on the rise. 2015 saw the largest increase in bicycle fatalities in two decades. New Mexico riders have also suffered from this trend. Learn more about the causes of bicycle accidents, what riders can do to prevent them, and the legal rights injury victims have to be compensated for their losses.
The Causes of Bicycle Accidents – And How Riders Can Avoid Them
Beyond simply reporting bicycle accident rates, the Governors Highway Safety Association has also analyzed the data to identify risk factors which contribute to these accidents. In the majority of accidents, motor vehicle drivers have failed to identify the bicyclist. Bicyclists are more likely to see the motor vehicle before a collision, but expect the driver to yield the right of way. This demonstrates the importance of attentiveness to roadway conditions, which must be shared by all roadway users. Bicyclists should take measures to ensure they are seen in the roadway. Bells and lights should be used as needed to alert drivers to the presence of a bicyclists. Reflective clothing, tape, head lights, and bike reflectors should be used at night and during other times of poor visibility. Bicyclists should never assume that a driver will yield the right of way, even when the driver is legally required to do so. Slow down, make eye contact with the driver, and only proceed with caution when the driver has come to a complete stop. Bicyclists should also use particular caution in parking lots. Drivers have often diverted their attention to the task of backing up or parking. This can make it even more difficult to see nearby bicyclists.
Alcohol is another factor which contributes to bicycle accidents. While alcohol impairment has decreased among bicyclists who are involved in accidents, it has not declined as quickly as alcohol use among drivers. This indicates that the effective media campaigns and advocacy efforts of drunk driving opponents have yet to reach the bicyclist population. Like motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists must accept personal responsibility for avoiding both impairment and distractions while on the road.
Injury Victims Have the Legal Right to Be Compensated
New Mexico law protects bicycle riders’ right to be compensated for injuries and losses they sustain in a motor vehicle collision. New Mexico Statutes §66-3-702 grants bicyclists all rights and imposes all duties applicable to drivers. A driver will therefore be found liable for causing an accident when he or she fails to yield the right of way, fails to control speed to avoid a collision, makes an improper left turn, or otherwise violates any New Mexico traffic statute. This liability also makes the driver responsible for compensating the injury victim for his or her financial losses. This can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, projected future medical expenses, and any other loss which was directly attributable to the accident. Contact an experienced Albuquerque bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible after any collision with a motor vehicle. Injury victims have the legal right to be compensated for their injuries and financial losses.