It’s one of the scariest sights for anyone on the road. An oncoming motorist ahead is waiting to make a left turn. You expect the driver to wait until you get by, but suddenly the car turns right in front of you. It’s up to you to brake in time.
The left turn accident is a common and dangerous threat to riders in Santa Cruz and anywhere else where bicyclists must brave traffic. Careless drivers will say they didn’t see anyone coming even though the cyclist was directly in front of them.
Left Turn Bicycle Accident Threats
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) details the threat of the many different types of bicycle accidents that frequently occur. Accidents that involved motorists crossing the path of a cyclist accounted for 57% of vehicle versus bicycle crashes in their study. It’s a dangerous situation for anyone on a bike because the FHWA also reports that over 18% of motor vehicle/bicycle collisions lead to fatal or serious injuries each year.
A left turn in front of an unsuspecting rider can have serious consequences. The cyclist may be traveling at full speed and in an instant have the full length of a several ton vehicle in his or her path. A collision may be unavoidable.
The injuries that result may be serious and cause permanent damage. At this vulnerable time for cyclists, the attorneys with Bay Area Bicycle Law want to support the injured victims and protect their rights to seek fair compensation. The pain and financial loss of the here and now should be the at-fault driver’s responsibility, but the future health and wellbeing of the rider must also be secured. Bay Area Bicycle Law will work to help their clients get back on their bikes and make sure the responsible driver is held accountable.
Left Turn Dangers in Santa Cruz
The Left Turn may seem like a routine part of the daily drive, but somehow it ends up being a major factor in many car, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents. Experts say the left-hand turn can create anxiety for drivers in certain situations and cause them to make rash decisions.
The added traffic of tourist season in Santa Cruz can sometimes leave motorists waiting several minutes before being able to make a turn. That stress of holding out for an opening, and worrying about the cars waiting behind you can fuel a rushed decision and a mistake. At times, the brain may block out smaller profile vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians and just give the foot the command to “step on it!”
The hazards to bicyclists when vehicles attempt a left-hand turn:
- Lengthier, Speedier Turns: Left turns make a wider arc than a right turn. The turning car is in the path of oncoming traffic longer. People are generally traveling faster and often “floor-it” when making left turns.
- Visibility: Sometimes the driver can be looking out for bigger objects like cars and trucks and the stress can make them block out smaller objects like someone on a motorcycle or bike. The difference in size may also lead an inattentive driver to misjudge the distance of a cyclist. Visibility could also be blocked by parked cars and the windshield frame.
- More Complicated Turns: You may not have noticed it, but left turns take more thought than many other maneuvers on the road. The driver must process more lanes of traffic, people in crosswalks, stopped cars, parked cars, and speeding cars. The extra data can overload a distracted mind.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do after a bicycle accident?
First, make sure you are safe and then call 911. Then, if you are feeling okay, start taking photos of the accident scene and any visible wounds and damage. When officers arrive give them a full report on what happened. You’ll want to get a copy of that report later to build your case against the at-fault driver.
Exchange information with the driver involved and any witnesses. Don’t make any statements about the accident to the driver or to his or her insurance company. Keep your damaged clothing and bike. Keep anything that might be evidence for your case. Get checked out by your doctor and keep all medical documents.
What if I share some of the blame for my bicycle accident?
You may be partly to blame for your accident, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get help with medical bills and other financial burdens. Because California is a pure comparative negligence state, more than one person can be assigned liability in an accident. You could bear 25% of the blame in an accident for not obeying a traffic law, but the driver involved could also bear 75% of the blame for speeding. In this case, you would be awarded compensation, and then your part of the blame, 25%, would be deducted.
What if I wasn’t wearing a helmet in a bicycle accident?
Bay Area Bicycle Law can still file a claim for damages for you even if you weren’t wearing a helmet. In California, you aren’t required to wear a helmet if you’re 18-years-old or older. Helmets are proven to reduce the severity of injury so it may be ruled that you bear some of the blame for your injuries if you don’t have one. The concept of comparative negligence could apply in this case too. You would still get compensation for your injuries, but your percentage of fault in the accident could be subtracted from your final award.
Contact a Santa Cruz Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only personal injury law firm in Northern California to specialize exclusively in representing injured cyclists.
We work to support bicyclists who have been injured as a result of the carelessness and negligence of others. We’re dedicated and effective bicycle accident lawyers. If you were injured in a bicycle accident in or around Santa Cruz or anywhere else in Northern California, contact us right away for a confidential, free consultation and case review.