In the aftermath of the Tour de France having visited Yorkshire, it's clear that the number of cyclists on our roads has increased significantly. Unfortunately as a result, the number of road traffic accidents involving cyclists has also risen.
Both drivers and cyclists alike must adopt a more heightened awareness to ensure the safety of all road users. On 25 September 2014, the Government published its 2013 Reported Road Casualties Great Britain - Annual Report which illustrated how both cycle use and cyclist casualties have risen.
The report states that, as in previous years, the most commonly recorded contributory factor in cycling accidents in 2013 involved the driver ‘failing to look properly.’ This was the case recorded in around 26% of fatal cycling accidents and 36% of serious cycling accidents. With this in mind, we must consider the best advice to both cyclists and drivers in preventing these accidents - visibility is key.
Drivers can sometimes find it difficult to see cyclists especially when turning at cross roads or staggered junctions. Cyclists can be particularly at risk when approaching roundabouts and junctions because they become less visible or hidden in blind spots.
Drivers can take active measures to ensure the safety of cyclists by paying extra attention at roundabouts and junctions and giving cyclists plenty of space when overtaking. Use of mirrors and indicators is paramount in ensuring both parties are aware of each other’s presence and intended route.
Both drivers and passengers must be especially careful when opening car doors into the path of oncoming cyclists. This is an extremely common cause of cycling accidents that can easily be avoided. Last year almost 600 cyclists were involved in accidents due to people opening car doors before first checking their mirrors.
Cyclists also have a duty to ensure their visibility and safety. Simple changes can make a massive difference. Use of lights and wearing reflective or light coloured clothing can increase visibility significantly. Ride in a position where you can see and be seen and signal clearly at all times. Never cycle along the inside of large vehicles such as lorries and buses, especially at junctions were most accidents occur.
Many accidents happen when cyclists are caught on the inside of a vehicle turning left. Cyclists shouldn’t assume a vehicle is going straight ahead just because it isn’t signalling left and should always avoid undertaking any vehicle in this situation. It is also advisable to make eye contact with drivers at junctions, always wear a fitted helmet that conforms to current regulations, and avoid taking undue risks such as jumping red lights and riding on the pavement.
Cycling is a great way of keeping healthy, reducing pollution and reducing road congestion which is beneficial to all. Let’s ensure each other’s safety by adopting these behaviours and reducing the number of cyclist accidents on our roads. Why not get involved in Road Safety Week on 17-23rd November 2014.
Katy Heppenstall is a Personal Injury Litigation Executive at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Sheffield.
To claim compensation for a personal injury caused in a cycling accident that was someone else’s fault, call our Personal Injury Solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.
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