5 ways motorists can reduce cycling collisions
It would be unfair to lay every single accident at the feet of motorists, but having handled a large number of claims for cyclists over time, we know there are some situations which crop up again and again.
Cyclists on the road can no longer be considered out of the ordinary. The number of cyclists in Bristol who cycle at least once a week increased from 5% in 2015 to 28% in 2021, according to Sustrans, reinforcing the need for us to account them in our driving habits.
It may seem counter-intuitive for personal injury lawyers to say that we would rather there were fewer cycling collisions, but we don’t actually want our clients or colleagues to get injured. So, we’ve come up with a few tips for motorists that will help minimise the chance of a collision.
By following the tips below, you’ll reduce the risk of a personal injury compensation claim being filed against you by an injured cyclist. Much more importantly though, you’ll be helping to reduce the number of cyclists injured, or more tragically, killed on the road each year.
5 top tips for avoiding cycling accidents
1. Be careful at junctions
When joining a roundabout or a main road, look before you pull out into the flow of vehicles. You may see what looks like a gap in the traffic, but it’s easy to miss fellow road users on pushbikes if you don’t specifically look out for them.
2. Look where you’re turning
If you’re turning onto a side road, be careful that you’re not turning into a cyclist’s path, as this could force them to collide with you or swerve into oncoming traffic. Remember that vehicles stationed behind you may impede your view of bikes.
3. Control your speed
“He came out of nowhere” is a common argument from motorists. However, if anyone is travelling too fast, more often than not it will be the driver – their vehicle has an engine after all! Remember that the speed limit is a maximum not a minimum and it may be more appropriate to travel at a slower speed, particularly when visibility is limited or when approaching corners and crossroads.
4. Consider your braking distance
It’s always a good idea to give yourself enough braking distance when driving, but particularly around cyclists. For example, random obstacles such as potholes and bumps can force a cyclist to swerve or brake sharply, which is likely to cause a collision if you’re following them too closely. Even though you may not always be held accountable for this, injury to a fellow road user can be avoided.
5. Mind the door
A pet hate of many cyclists is getting ‘doored’ when a driver or passenger opens a door, causing them to slam into it or swerve abruptly and crash. Be aware of this when someone gets out of the car, especially if your passenger is not a qualified driver, as they may be less aware of vulnerable cyclists.
These tips are by no means exhaustive, and you can find further information in the Highway Code. Changes to the Highway Code were introduced in early 2022 to create a hierarchy of road users to give more priority and protection to cyclists and other vulnerable road users. This hierarchy is to ensure that those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.