Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents Could Increase During Coronavirus Shutdowns
Ever since the coronavirus hit our shores earlier this year, life has not been the same. When Alabama’s governor issued stay-at-home orders April 4, the goal was to avoid catching or transmitting the potentially deadly coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Alabamians were told to stay home, but they were allowed to go outside to exercise. Bike shop owners saw a surge in sales and bicycle repairs as people rode and more took to walking to remain physically healthy during these challenging times. Some cities reported a doubling of bike and pedestrian traffic.
Motorists must be increasingly aware of bicyclists and pedestrians during times like these so as to avoid a serious accident.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents in Alabama
Under normal conditions, the road carries potential dangers for bicyclists and pedestrians. Now, even though there might be fewer people driving to work, the potential for collisions is high. Understand that pedestrians and bikes are not objects “in your way” but they have rights as well.
In a collision with a car, the bicyclist always loses. Remember when a car, weighing two tons, hits a bike, which is 20 pounds, you know who loses.
Distracted driving was already taking a toll in Alabama, even before the pandemic. Last October saw a sharp increase in pedestrian fatalities in the state, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, pedestrian deaths rose 60 percent in Alabama over the last decade.
The numbers show that in 66 percent of the cases, a pedestrian is the cause of pedestrian-related fatalities in the state. Whether the pedestrian or driver is distracted by his texting or talking, both parties need to remember to put away their phones while walking or driving.
Sharing and the Rules of the Road
Motorists have a clear advantage over bicyclists, so it is important to follow the law.
- Do not blast your horn
- Stay three feet away at least and more distance at higher speeds or windy conditions
- Assume the bicyclist is traveling straight through an intersection unless they signal. Yield to a bicycle as you would to any vehicle
- When exiting a car, do not open your door on the drivers’ side without first watching for a bicyclist. That collision alone could throw the biker into traffic and be a fatal move.
There were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2018, according to NHTSA. One-third of bicycle accidents occur when a cyclist is struck by a car.
Bicyclists and pedestrians also must be aware of the rules of the road:
- Bicyclists must have a red reflector on for an evening ride with a white light on the front
- No more people are allowed on the bicycle than it is designed for
- A rider cannot attach his bicycle to another vehicle to be towed
- Bicycles cannot ride two abreast the lane
- Bicycles must use the path adjacent to the road, not a sidewalk, and must follow the same direction as traffic
- Bike riders must keep at least one hand on the handlebars
- Persons 16 and under are required under state law to wear a helmet, however with 74% of bicycle fatalities involving head injuries it is strongly advised for everyone to wear a helmet.
- Alabama’s DUI laws apply to bicyclists too
Please remember to wear bright clothing and reflective gear to remain highly visible.
NHTSA reports there were 6,283 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes nationwide in 2018, a slight increase from the year before. In Alabama, the number of pedestrian fatalities is on the rise from 64 deaths back in 2009 to 107 fatalities in 2018, with most fatalities occurring in urban rather than rural areas.
Under Alabama law:
- Pedestrians must walk on the sidewalk not the road unless there is none available
- Pedestrians must cross at a crosswalk waiting for the “walk” signal
- Never jaywalk in an area with no crosswalk or cross an intersection diagonally
And while we hear about distracted driving, we hear less about distracted walking. However, you really cannot do both safely. Pay attention and do not text while you walk.
Your Alabama Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you are involved in an accident with a pedestrian or bicyclist, don’t waste valuable seconds. Get them help immediately by calling 9-1-1 and stay with the person to redirect traffic.
The worst thing you can do is leave the scene, because under Alabama law, that is a hit-and-run and will result in the loss of your license and could result in more serious charges.
If you have been hurt in a pedestrian or bicycle crash with a vehicle you should reach out to Chip Nix to discuss your personal injury case. You may be able to be compensated for your damages that may include lost wages, pain and suffering, your medical bills, and compensation for emotional trauma. Call us at 334-203-6669. We are open and keeping our office sanitized following federal guidelines.