One of the essential things you learn in driver’s education class is the importance of sharing the road safely with bicyclists and pedestrians. Of course, saying it is easier than actually doing it. For many drivers, the primary focus is paying attention to other vehicles surrounding them – people traveling on foot or on a bike are often an afterthought. While pedestrians and cyclists may not be much of a threat to you, you and your vehicle do pose a safety hazard to them. Continue reading to find out how you can better share the road with others.
Sharing the Road with Pedestrians
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thousands of pedestrians are killed on U.S. public roadways every year. In 2013, the number topped 4,735. That is 4 percent more than were killed in 2009, and the tally is only expected to rise in future years. Of course, many more people are injured every year. The NHTSA reported 69,000 pedestrians injured in 2011 – 11,000 of who were children under age 14.
Accidents involving pedestrians are highly preventable, but many people – both pedestrians and drivers – fail to adhere to laws or safety recommendations designed to increase pedestrian safety. As a driver, it is your job to yield to pedestrians and be on the lookout for them at all times of the day. Here are a few quick ways you can better share the roads with pedestrians:
- Every intersection is a crosswalk – yield to pedestrians
- Scan both sides of a crosswalk before crossing it
- Look out for young children running into streets near playgrounds and school zones
- Drive cautiously when navigating parking lots and garages
- Look in your mirrors and your back-up camera before backing out of your driveway
- Avoid distracted driving, which may slow your response time
- Slow down in wet weather to allow for greater stopping distance if you are surprised by a pedestrian entering the roadway
Sharing the Road with Bicycles
It may come as a surprise, but bicycles are considered just as much of a vehicle as a car, SUV, or a semi-truck. Except in areas where cyclists are provided a protected bike lane or a shoulder, their only recourse is to ride in the main lane. Now, many people on bicycles will ride to the far right of their lane. Legally, however, cyclists have the right to take up the entire lane. If you wish to pass a person riding on a bicycle, you must change lanes to do so.
It is a bicyclist’s job to remain visible and obey all traffic laws. It is your job as a motorist, however, to be on the lookout for cyclists at all times, since they are often difficult to spot in traffic. If you are driving behind a cyclist – especially in inclement weather – always leave adequate space between your vehicle and the bicycle ahead, and be prepared to reduce your speed to accommodate the cyclist.
At the end of the day, you also have to look out for yourself. Despite the best intentions of many drivers, thousands of accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists still happen every year. If you find yourself responsible for one, make sure you have insurance that adequately protects you in such an event. For more information about property damage and bodily injury liability, contact our office to speak to one of our helpful team members and request a car insurance quote. We look forward to serving you soon.