Key Points of This Article:
- Common reasons for motor vehicle operators to be at fault for a bicyclist collision include speeding, distraction, or making a preventable driver error such as driving too close.
- It is the law for motor vehicle drivers to allow at least 3 feet of space when passing a bicyclist, especially at intersections and roundabouts.
- Bicyclists hit by a motorist are far more vulnerable to severe injuries such as traumatic brain injury, especially when not wearing a helmet.
- If you are a motorist who hits a bicyclist, you must not flee the scene, or the crash will be considered a hit and run. The penalties against you will be severe. Instead, call 911 and request immediate medical help for the injured bicyclist.
Distracted Drivers and Speeding Drivers Are More Likely to Severely Injure Michigan Bicyclists
Bicycle riding in Michigan is becoming more and more popular, with new bike lanes built in communities like Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor over the last decade. In Detroit alone, the city has constructed 145 miles of them, and in 2020 added 19 miles of additional protected bike lanes. So, as more Michiganders begin to head outdoors, we will all be expected to share the road with bicyclists who are commuting or just finally able to step outside for fun and healthy exercise after the extended winter quarantine.
To stay safe and avoid colliding with a motorist, bicycle riders should always:
- Stay alert, avoid distraction, and riding after drinking alcohol and taking drugs, including prescription medications
- Ride with the direction of traffic (except in contra-flow bike lane)
- Yield when required
- Wear a helmet, fluorescent clothing, and equip your bike with the appropriate lighting
- Ride with predictability and avoid weaving in and out of traffic
- Ride away from the curb, and stay in bike lanes and off sidewalks
When riding a bicycle on Michigan roads, including roundabouts and intersections, follow the same rules as motorists. Always stay alert and off your phone, wear protective gear, and know how to act quickly if involved in a crash by contacting law enforcement to make an accident report even if the driver who hit you has fled the scene.
Michigan Motorists Carry Some Responsibility for Keeping Bicyclists Safe
All motorists need to take especially close care of bicyclists when sharing the road with them. These crashes frequently happen when a vehicle is approaching an intersection, turning or entering parking lots, and when bicyclists are coming from behind a car or truck. Driving behaviors that are preventable but continue to contribute to Michigan bicycle accidents include:
- Failure to yield to a bicyclist when required
- Tailgating or squeezing passing too close (less than 3 feet)
- Turning immediately in front of a bicyclist
- Speeding and driving too fast for conditions
- Opening a vehicle door into a bicyclist’s path
- Not obeying traffic signals
- Driving while distracted (such as texting) or intoxicated or impaired by drugs, including marijuana and prescription medications
- Blasting a horn, yelling, or harassing bicyclists in other ways
If you are a motorist who hits a bicyclist, of course it will be frightening, but you must not flee the scene. If you do, the accident will be cited as a hit and run, and the penalties against you will be severe. Witnesses will provide details about your vehicle to the police, and you will be found. So instead, call 911 and request immediate medical help for the injured bicyclist.
The 3 Feet Rule Still Applies
Michigan bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists via MCL Section 257.657. And a minimum driving distance of 3 feet has been set into law to keep bicyclists protected from dangers such as quick left- and right-hand turns, a side view mirror or door collision, or wind from a vehicle pushing them over. If a motorist is speeding, they may not have the appropriate amount of time to react and give the 3 feet when approaching a bicyclist. Operate your car or truck at the correct posted speed limit to aid your reaction time to hazardous situations and provide safer control.
Common Injuries to Michigan Cyclists
Some of the most common reasons a motor vehicle driver will be found at-fault for a collision with a bicyclist are speeding, distraction, or making a bad driver decision such as driving too close. The results are often side-swiping or read-ending a bicycle. And, too often, the harm that is done from a motorist crash with a bicyclist is irreversible.
Common Michigan bike accident injuries our car accident and personal injury attorneys see include:
- Concussions and whiplash-type injuries can lead to severe traumatic brain damage
- Shoulder dislocations
- Dog bites
- Neck, spine, and back injuries
- Soft tissue and muscular-related injuries
- Broken arms, hips, and legs, and
- bone fractures
- Internal injuries
Despite the Michigan Vehicle Code’s failure to require bicyclists to wear a helmet, it remains the most critical step a cyclist can take to protect themselves from severe injury and death and against motorists who do not follow safe driving practices.
Does Michigan’s No-Fault Law Cover Bicycle Accident Injuries?
To determine whose No-Fault insurance will cover a bicyclist’s injuries, the law outlines “priority” rules. These rules determine which car insurance company is obligated to pay benefits. Consulting with a Michigan bicycle accident attorney can support your best chances for the financial recovery necessary to help you carry on with life and get back on your bike.
We all want to get outside. Just be sure to follow the rules of the road, wear a helmet, be mindful of hazardous drivers, and have fun! If you get into trouble and are injured, know that you have rights, and our attorneys can likely help you.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Michigan Bicycle Crash Attorney
The experienced attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. have represented bicycle accident victims and their families for over 40 years. If you have lost a loved one due to a car crash involving a bicycle or you have been seriously injured in an accident while riding a bike, we can help. Please call Lee Free and our bicycle accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your case.
Watch Attorney Eric Steinberg: Michigan Biking & Driving Tips