Key Points of This Article:
- Bicyclists are far more vulnerable to serious injuries or death in a crash than drivers and passengers of cars and trucks.
- Common reasons for motor vehicle operators to be at fault of a collision with a bicyclist include speeding, distraction, or making a common 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 in Michigan.
- With greater bicycle safety awareness among motorists and riders, there is hope for a reduction in serious injuries and deaths resulting from bike-car collisions across Michigan.
There is still plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors in Michigan on your bicycle to commute to work and school, or just for fun and healthy exercise alone or with friends and family. Unfortunately, a bike ride’s quiet enjoyment can quickly turn chaotic, whether traveling on a scenic road in Grand Rapids or Saginaw, or sharing intersections with busy or distracted Detroit drivers. And if a crash occurs, Michigan bicyclists (and pedestrians) are particularly vulnerable to serious injuries and make up 19% of Michigan traffic fatalities each year.
To stay safe, bicycle riders should avoid:
- riding against the direction of traffic (except in contra-flow bike lane)
- failing to yield when required
- riding at night in dark clothing and/or without lighting
- riding unpredictably (weaving in and out of travel lane)
- hugging the curb (riding too far to the right) or riding on sidewalks
- riding while distracted or intoxicated or impaired
When riding a bicycle on Michigan roads, follow the same rules as motorists, stay aware, wear protective gear such as a helmet, and know how to act quickly if involved in a crash by contacting law enforcement to make an accident report and seeking a medical evaluation.
Identifying Preventable Crash Risk Behaviors for Motorists
All motorists need to take especially close care of bicyclists when sharing the road with them. These crashes frequently happen when a vehicle is turning or entering parking lots and exiting driveways, and when bicyclists are coming from behind a car or truck, especially where congested streets meet dangerous intersections. Driving behaviors that are preventable and contribute to Michigan bicycle accidents include:
- failure to yield to a bicyclist when required
- squeezing a cyclist by 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 recreational marijuana and prescription medications
- blasting a horn, yelling, or harassing bicyclists in other ways
Please remember, Michigan bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists via MCL Section 257.657. A minimum driving distance of 3 feet is set into law and proven to keep bicyclists protected from dangers such as swift left- and right-hand turns, a side view mirror or door collision, or wind from a vehicle pushing them over.
Speeding, Distracted Drivers Are Most Often Responsible for These Common Bicycle Crash Injuries
It has become typical for motor vehicle drivers to be at fault of a collision with a bicyclist due to speeding, distraction, or making a standard driver error like driving too close. It is in everyone’s best interest to operate motor vehicles at the correct posted speed limit to aid drivers’ reaction time to hazardous situations and provide safer control over the car. Michigan speed limits vary depending on the roadway, and laws require local authorities to post the max speed within a ½ mile of access points of the road.
Common bike accident injuries include:
- shoulder dislocations
- neck and back injuries
- soft tissue injuries (connective tissue damage to the muscles, ligaments, or tendons)
- broken arms, hips, and legs
- internal injuries
- bone fractures
- concussions that can lead to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Michigan bike accidents are becoming all too common, and everyone must do our part to ensure the general public’s safety. Too often, the harm that is done from a motorist crash with a bicyclist is irreversible. In general, drivers need to follow safe practices, stay alert, observe and obey signage, stay in their lane and within a safe distance, and avoid texting or being distracted while driving.
Bicycle Accidents and Michigan’s No-Fault Law
Under the Michigan No-Fault Law, bicyclists injured in an accident involving a car or truck are entitled to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, also known as first-party benefits. PIP benefits cover reasonably necessary medical expenses related to the accident, up to three years of lost wages, replacement services (to cover household chores or childcare the victim can no longer complete), attendant care such as in-home nursing, medical mileage, out-of-pocket costs, and vehicle and/or home modifications. Under the new no-fault law, injured bicyclist can now also make a bicycle car accident insurance claim to sue the motorist for “excess” medical bills. An injured bicyclist involved in a crash caused by an at-fault motorist can also sue the negligent driver for pain and suffering compensation.
To determine whose no-fault insurance will cover a bicyclist’s injuries, no-fault law outlines “priority” rules. These rules determine which car insurance company is obligated to pay no-fault 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.
Speak to a Michigan Bicycle Crash Attorney Today
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, our team is here to help.
Please call Lee Free and our bicycle accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) and let us get started by hearing your story. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your case.