Do Safety Laws Keep Bicyclists Safe?
Bicycle safety is a top priority for many decision makers. These riders make up about 1 percent of vehicle traffic. But they account for twice as many (2 percent) vehicle fatalities. Safety groups and other advocacy groups loudly pressure lawmakers to “do something” about this problem. Governments often respond with policy changes, like mandatory bicycle helmet laws, and physical changes, like designated bicycle lanes. As outlined below, these initiatives sometimes do more harm than good.
Bicycle riders cannot count on well-meaning politicians or energetic advocacy groups for protection. But they can count on a Carlsbad bicycle accident lawyer. Legal actions call attention to the issue and force real change. Furthermore, legal actions compensate accident victims, something that a new law or construction project cannot do. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Most plastic bicycle helmets aren’t much thicker than the plastic plates in a kitchen cupboard. Plastic plates prevent food from falling onto the floor, but that’s about it. Somewhat similarly, bicycle helmets protect riders if they hit curbs, or other stationary objects, and fall off their bikes. But these helmets provide little or no protection if the bicyclist collides with a moving vehicle. The force is simply too great.
Furthermore, bicycle helmets protect most of the skull. But they don’t protect the forehead and cervical spine. A fractured forehead is just as bad as a fractured skull. Additionally, an injury to the cervical spine area near the neck could cause paralysis.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, bicycle helmets psychologically affect drivers in a negative way. Subconsciously, when a driver sees a bicyclist wearing a helmet, the driver believes the rider can survive a crash. Therefore, the driver takes more risks, like speeding excessively and cutting off the bicyclist while turning.
Head injuries are permanent. Doctors can manage the symptoms but never “cure” these injuries. An Oceanside personal injury lawyer helps ensure that these victims have the financial resources they need to live with these lifelong injuries.
Like bicycle helmets, concrete pillars that separate bicycle lanes from other traffic lanes seem like a very good idea. But these decision makers don’t think things all the way through. In many cases, concrete pillars cause more crashes than they prevent.
Intersection collisions are a good example. Assume Mary the car driver and Martha the bicycle rider approach an intersection at about the same time. The light is green. Mary plans to turn right and Martha plans to go straight.
If a concrete pillar separates Mary and Martha, Mary might not see Martha until it’s too late. That’s especially true since, most likely, Mary is looking to the left as she turns.
All that being said, concrete dividers, like bicycle helmets, benefit some bicycle riders in some ways. But in most cases, the risk doesn’t justify the reward.
Reach Out to a Savvy San Diego County Lawyer
Well-meaning politicians and pundits don’t always protect bicycle riders. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Oceanside, contact the Pursley Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.