Safety Tips for Alabama Bicycle Riders
Bicycling may be a popular method of transportation in Alabama, but it isn’t always the safest. In 2015, 185 Alabama bicyclists suffered injuries and nine others died. More than one-fifth (21%) of these accidents involved injured bicyclists who were 15 and younger. Negligent and distracted drivers are making Alabama’s roadways more dangerous than ever for vulnerable road users. Practice the following safety tips to keep yourself and your children accident- and injury-free while biking in Alabama.
Wear an Approved Safety Helmet
Regardless of whether or not the law requires bicyclists to wear a helmet, they should. Wearing a helmet reduces your chances of suffering a serious injury in the event of an accident. In the state of Alabama, only bicyclists ages 16 and younger legally have to wear helmets. As an older cyclist, however, helmets are still important for bicycle safety.
Bicycle helmets are the most effective way to prevent crash-related head injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They can reduce the risk of head and brain injury by up to 88% for bicyclists. They can also reduce the risk of injuries to the face, such as lacerations or mouth injuries. Always wear a helmet, at any age, if you want to bike with maximum safety.
An “approved” helmet means one with a sticker from the Department of Transportation (DOT) or the Snell Memorial Foundation. These helmets have passed strenuous quality and safety tests to make sure they can properly absorb an impact and protect the head, face, and brain. Your helmet should fit snugly, with no extra room for movement. Wear a helmet with the chin strap secured, or else the helmet may come off in an accident.
Practice Defensive Biking
One of the most common reasons bicyclists get into traffic accidents in Alabama is because of negligent and distracted drivers. Driver distraction has increased in the last few years thanks to greater rates of cell phone use behind the wheel. In 2016, distracted drivers took at least 3,450 lives throughout the country. Many of these victims were bicyclists and pedestrians. Never assume a driver will see you or stop to yield you the right-of-way. Instead, assume the opposite and be cautious around motor vehicles until you’re in the clear.
You might not be able to prevent distracted driving, but you can prevent a collision with a few safety techniques. First, practice “defensive biking.” Always take a defensive stance when riding your bicycle. In other words, assume drivers will do the wrong thing, not the right thing. Keep your guard up and always prepare yourself to defend against a negligent driver. Do not assume drivers will obey the rules of the road, yield to you at an intersection, keep a safe following distance, etc. Instead, always be ready for drivers to break the rules and put you in danger.
Obey Alabama’s Bicycle Laws
Following the rules isn’t just important for staying out of legal trouble – it’s a major part of getting around safely. Bicycle laws are in place for your safety. They aim to keep bicyclists separate from motorists as much as possible to decrease the risk of a serious collision. Obeying the rules will keep your actions predictable for drivers, who can react accordingly to keep their distance and keep you safe.
Bike in the same direction as traffic, as far to the right-hand side of the road as possible. The only time you should enter the left lane is if you’re making a left-hand turn. Show your intent to turn using hand signals. Obey all roadway signs and signals as if you were driving a car. This includes stop signs and lights. Look all directions for vehicles before crossing an intersection, even if you have the right-of-way. Bicycle safety starts with you. Contact our Birmingham bicycle accident lawyers today.