Written on Behalf of Brian S. Kabateck
April 7, 2017
California leads the nation in the number of bicyclists killed each year in traffic accidents, prompting lawmakers to tackle this issue at the state capitol. While the number of victims grows annually, there’s a debate over how to make the roads safer for cyclists and whether new laws are the best solution.
State bill AB 1103, recently introduced by Assembly members Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) and Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would allow cyclists to essentially treat stop signs as yield signs. There’s a similar law in Idaho which has apparently led to a decrease in bike-related injuries and deaths.
Bicyclists frequently roll through stop signs which irritates some motorists. However, according to Assemblyman Obernolte, studies have shown that stopping and starting a bicycle is more dangerous because of the loss of momentum which causes the cyclist to spend more time at the intersection, increasing the changes of a collision with a vehicle. Obernolte contends that “allowing bicyclists to yield at stop signs would help alleviate traffic congestion by diverting bicycle traffic to side streets.”
If the bill becomes law, bicyclists could slow down as they approach a stop sign, assess the safety of proceeding and then keep going without making a complete stop. Current law states that a person riding a bicycle has all the rights and is subject to all the laws applicable to the driver of a vehicle and a violation of the Vehicle Code is punishable as an infraction.
Cycling advocacy groups are wary of a new law if there isn’t more education for bicyclists and motorists on how to behave at intersections. California’s “3-foot” law, which passed in 2014, is an example of how stricter safety laws have not improved conditions on the road. A lack of statewide enforcement demonstrates that some drivers are unaware of the 3-foot passing rule, and fatalities remained on the rise in 2016.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, each year about 2 percent of fatalities from motor vehicle crashes involve bicyclists. In 2015, 815 cyclists died in traffic accidents. That means more than two people die every day of the year in the U.S. in bicycle/motor vehicle accidents, which is a 6 percent increase in bicyclist fatalities since 2006.
An estimated 45-thousand bicyclists were injured in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, that number could be much greater, based on research into hospital records that show only a fraction of bicycle injuries are recorded by the police.
If you or a loved one has experienced a catastrophic orthopedic injury in a bicycling accident, you must learn more about your legal rights to receive benefits, which you are entitled to if your injury is due to a negligent party. Give one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at Kabateck LLP a call today to learn more about recovering damages and to explore your options. Our accident lawyers in Los Angeles can help you achieve the maximum compensation for the harm you or a loved one has suffered.