Florida Cycling Accidents
A distracted driver in Broward County crashed into a group on cyclists on a road in Davie at 8:30 a.m. on a recent Sunday morning, killing one cyclist and injuring five others. A South Florida Sun-Sentinel report on the incident noted that the group of cyclists had 15-25 riders in total at the time of the accident, according to a police spokesman. The driver admitted to police that she was distracted by something in the passenger compartment of her vehicle at the time of the crash. She also told police that the sun was shining directly into her eyes, which made it difficult for her to see, at the time of the accident. Six cyclists were injured as a result of the incident and all six were taken to the hospital, where one died an hour later from her injuries. Police said there were no signs the driver was speeding or impaired at the time of the accident, although she was cited twice in the previous six years for speeding.
This incident is just the latest in a series of tragic accidents involving motorists and cyclists on South Florida’s roads. If you are a motorist, it is particularly important to pay attention on roads that you know traditionally have large groups of cyclists on them. Weekends are an especially busy time for cyclists because many groups of cyclists and local cycling clubs will have group rides and all go out early in the morning to avoid the heat. Although drivers and cyclists are both responsible for ensuring the safety of all those on the road, cyclists are particularly vulnerable in the event of an accident with a motor vehicle. In addition, motorists are the ones who can cause the most harm given the size and weight of their vehicles as compared with unprotected cyclists on a bike. A recent article by The Wall Street Journal noted that Florida has by far the highest per-capita bicyclist death rate in the country, which just highlights the need for both cyclists and, particularly, motorists to be careful when they are out on the road.
Bicyclist Responsibilities under Florida Law when Both Bicycles and Motor Vehicles Are Present on the Road
Although both motor vehicles and bicycles technically have the same rights to the road under Florida law, cyclists often get the short end of the stick when it comes to sharing the road in South Florida in particular. As reflected in the recent spate of accidents in South Florida between cyclists and motorists, South Florida is a dangerous place for cyclists. This can sometimes be due to the actions of the cyclists themselves because Florida cyclists sometimes violate Florida law by not obeying traffic signals or by riding two or even sometimes three across when they are out on the road. Under Florida law, when sharing the road, bicyclists are required to stay in the designated bike lane, if there is one, or in the lane they are traveling in on roads that lack a bike lane. This is true even if the cyclist is traveling in a large group with other cyclists. In addition, bicyclists are required to obey the same traffic laws as motorists, including stopping at red lights, signaling when they are changing lanes, and riding in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic. Bicyclists are also not permitted to ride two or more riders across on the road in Florida unless they are doing so in a designated bike lane. The last requirement is one that can sometimes be ignored quite often by cyclists, particularly if there are few cars on the road and they are riding in a large group.
Motorist Responsibilities Under Florida Law When Bicyclists Are Present
Motorists also have particular responsibilities when cyclists are present on the road in Florida. Cyclists are not required to ride on the shoulder on the road or even in the very right-hand portion of the right lane of a road, despite what many drivers in Florida may think to the contrary. Instead, cyclists are permitted to ride their bikes on the road in Florida and are entitled to the use of a full lane when doing so. They are not required to share their lane with motor vehicles nor are they required to move all the way over if a motor vehicle attempts to pass them using the same lane in which the cyclist is traveling. Therefore, a driver who passes (or attempts to pass) a cyclist in the same lane in which the cyclist is traveling is violating the law and could be ticketed for reckless endangerment or a similar type of charge depending on how close the motorist comes to the bicyclist and how fast the motorist is going.
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley
As reflected in the recent fatal accident in Davie, collisions involving motor vehicles and cyclists often can result in critical injuries or death, particularly for the cyclists unlucky enough to be involved in an accident. The roads are a place where the cooperation of all parties is necessary, and both drivers and cyclists alike need to do their part to follow their obligations under Florida law to ensure the safety of everyone involved in sharing the road. Drivers need to understand that cyclists are entitled to the use of the road just as much as someone with a car and need to operate their vehicles with greater caution given that bicyclists are much less protected than someone who is riding in a motor vehicle.
If you are a cyclist and you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who has represented cyclists who have been injured by Florida motorists in the past. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. today. We have achieved great success in representing clients in collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles in our attorneys’ 150 combined years practicing law. Contact us today at (877) 694-6079 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation regarding your situation.