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All Press Releases for December 05, 2013 »
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Motorists and bicyclists: The importance of obeying the rules of the road

Accidents involving a motor vehicle and a bicycle happen more than one might think.
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    December 05, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- As recently reported by Connect MidMissouri, a woman was hospitalized after a bicycle crash. She was riding her bicycle on Industrial Boulevard around noon, when she tried to make a left-hand turn. She turned into a car travelling in the opposite direction. The cyclist was taken to St. Mary's Hospital for moderate injuries. She was not wearing a safety helmet, and did not use proper hand signals when turning.

Accidents involving a motor vehicle and a bicycle happen more than one might think. In 2011, one person was killed or injured in a bicycle traffic crash every 15.1 hours in the State of Missouri. In 2010, seven people were killed and 551 were injured in bicycle-related crashes. Of all types of vehicles in bicycle crashes, 59.5 percent were automobiles, 16.1 were sport utility vehicles and 14.2 percent were pickup trucks. Of all 2011 bicycle traffic crashes, 82.7 percent occurred in an urban area and 17.3 percent occurred in a rural area of the state.

Bicycles must obey the same traffic laws in the same way as motor vehicles, with very limited exceptions. In the above instance, it appears that the cyclist was at fault in the collision by not giving a proper hand signal and turning in the path of an oncoming vehicle. The driver of the car simply could not avoid the collision.

Motorists, however, must treat bicycles with the same regard as they would any other vehicle; bicyclists have the same rights under traffic law as do other vehicles.

Missouri law provides that every person operating a motor vehicle must shall drive the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person and must exercise the highest degree of care. That means that a motorist may not do anything that endangers a bicyclist, even if otherwise legal. More specifically, when passing a bicycle, a motorist must leave a safe distance when passing and not return to the right part of the road until safely past the bicyclist. Passing unsafely is a traffic offense punishable by driver license points, fines, and, if an accident results, even jail.

The law also permits a motorist to drive on the left side of the road only in limited circumstances. Motorists often attempt to pass bicyclists as they are traveling around curves or approaching the crest of a hill. But squeezing past the bicyclist or pulling blindly into the oncoming lane are both illegal. If the lane is wide enough to pass the bicyclist, leaving a safe distance between your vehicle and the bicyclist, while remaining on the right half of the road, then you may pass. However, if safely overtaking the bicyclist requires you to pull onto the left side of the roadway, then the law requires you to wait behind the bicyclist until your view ahead is clear.

Although special rules may apply to motor vehicles and bicyclists, anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of the circumstances, should seek the advice of an experience Missouri personal injury attorney.

Article provided by Dempsey & Kingsland, P.C.
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