Steps Motorists Can Take to Avoid Hitting a Cyclist

Updated article: Original publish date 4/1/14

As a motorist, sharing the road with cyclists is inevitable and at times can be challenging if one is uneducated about traffic laws. Not being fully educated is what ultimately leads to fatal injury accidents. In fact, in 2015, it was reported by the Arizona Department of Transportation that 1,434 Arizona cyclists were involved in motor vehicle traffic crashes. According to Arizona State law, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Therefore, driving throughout Arizona requires care, courtesy and most importantly, knowledge.

Drivers will see an increase of cyclist volume on the roads throughout the cooler months when bicycling to work becomes popular. Drivers can easily be distracted from a number of vises and at the same time are rarely looking for anything on the road other than another vehicle. It is imperative to avoid distractions and keep an eye out for cyclists and motorcycles as we approach the fall season.

Intersections are the number one locations where bicycle accidents occur, as drivers can easily miss sighting them, so be extra cautious.

To minimize risk and prevent hitting a cyclist while driving, follow these four easy steps from the League of American Bicyclists and ensure you properly share the road with cyclists.

1. Drive Cautiously:

  • Slow down when you encounter cyclists. Reducing your speed can drastically lessen the chance of accidents.
  • Never tailgate cyclists or motorists. Be aware that either one may stop abruptly and following too closely may cause a collision.
  • Be aware of hazards that cyclists may encounter and be prepared for the actions that they make take in order to avoid the hazards.

2. Respect Cyclists:

  • Never flag a cyclist on if other vehicles are approaching. A cyclist may assume that since you flagged them on, their path is clear.
  • Allow cyclists plenty of time to cross an intersection. Be aware that if other vehicles see you crossing the intersection, they may assume it is clear.
  • Never honk your horn near a cyclist, this may startle them and cause them to fall off of their bike.

3. Pass with Care:

  • Always double check your mirrors and look over your shoulder to avoid blind spots before switching lanes.
  • Never speed up to pass a cyclist. This can cause vehicles behind you to not see the cyclist.

4. Watch for Children:

  • Immediately slow down when you see children on bicycles.
  • Realize that children on bicycles may not be watching for vehicles, nor do they know the traffic laws.

It goes without saying that caution is key to avoiding bicycle accidents while driving. However, by educating yourself and learning the rules of sharing the road with cyclists, you can help lower the number of fatalities that occur each year due to motor vehicle and bicycle collisions.