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Getting Outdoor Time During Shelter-In-Place

Are you one of the many bicyclists and pedestrians taking time outdoors during the shelter-in-place? Even though vehicle traffic has declined, it’s important to remember the basic safety rules for pedestrians, and the biking rules of the road.

Unfortunately, it’s bicyclists and pedestrians who are often the victims most likely to suffer catastrophic injuries or fall victim in an accident. According to the CDC, 137,000 people were treated in an emergency room for their injuries in a pedestrian accident. Compared to a person riding in a car, a pedestrian is 1.5 times more likely to sustain fatal injuries in a car crash. In 2017, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in accidents.

For bicyclists, safety all starts with wearing the right gear like a helmet and riding safely, but these things often don’t close the full gap on bike accidents and the risk of serious injury.

According to People Powered Movement, there are more bicyclists on U.S. roads than ever before, but not all drivers are used to safely sharing those roads. More bicyclists also means a greater likelihood of more congestion and risk of accident. For those who are walking or biking, children, older adults and those out at night are most at risk.

Given California’s generally good weather, many people use biking as a way to get outside, commute to work, run errands and enjoy some exercise. But, every time you’re on a bicycle, you’re also at risk of being hit or hurt by a car driver.

Following Basic Safety Tips as a Cyclist or Pedestrian

Since you can’t always predict what drivers will or won’t do on the congested roads of California, you need to take safety into your own hands. Every step you follow decreases the risk of you being critically hurt in a wreck.

To start, avoid crossing or riding across streets in non-designated areas. Drivers are not trained to look for someone crossing the street, or a cyclist weaving in and out of traffic, so the chances of an accident are much higher. Stick to designated crosswalks and marked walking and biking lanes whenever they’re available.

Don’t expect that drivers can see you. Some drivers may be visiting your city and unfamiliar with local traffic patterns. Others might be under the influence or not accustomed to sharing the road with pedestrians or cyclists. To be safe, always stop before you cross an intersection or make a turn. Those few seconds could be enough for another driver to see you and avoid hitting you.

For cyclists in particular, one common way for accidents to happen is when a car, such as an Uber, Lyft or taxi, is stopped on the street or at a curb to drop someone off. You might be riding in the bike lane and get hit when the door of that vehicle is thrown open. This is known as a “dooring” accident. Just like you can’t always count on drivers to pay attention, don’t expect these passengers to be fully aware of their surroundings, either.

If you are the passenger exiting the car, look both ways before getting out of the car to make sure no other traffic risks, like an oncoming cyclist, is in the way.

One of the most important things you can do as either a cyclist or a pedestrian in California is to pay attention and reduce possible distractions, such as your phone or earbuds. This helps you maximize the time you need to move away from a distracted or aggressive driver so you can respond in a way that keeps you out of harm’s way. Be aware of the risks while you walk or bike because it could mean the difference between serious injury and avoiding an accident altogether.

Be Wary of Distracted Driving

Many drivers today simply don’t give the level of focus and attention to their driving that’s necessary to react quickly in possible accident situations. Someone simply glancing down at their phone might not see that the light has switched from yellow to red as they continue through the intersection. They might not see the light or the stop sign at the intersection where you’re getting ready to turn or cross. In either situation, you want to be the watchful pedestrian or bicyclist.

As a pedestrian or cyclist in California, it’s imperative that you always have your wits about you since you can’t count on drivers to do all that may be needed to avoid an accident. Know that many people reach for their phones at intersections taking a quick opportunity at the stop to check messages or texts. As you prepare to cross the street, scan the horizon and watch for those drivers who can’t make eye contact because they’re distracted by something in the car.

One of the best and simplest things you can do to avoid a serious California distracted driving accident as a pedestrian or cyclist is to wear bright clothing. If walking or biking at night, wearing reflective clothing, using lights, or carrying a flashlight can also help improve your visibility to drivers. While these are not always foolproof tactics, they can increase the chances of a driver seeing you and hitting their brakes.

Seriously Injured from a Pedestrian or Bicycling Accident

The lack of protection from a vehicle collision means many pedestrians and bike riders end up with devastating injuries. They potentially can be struck by a car and thrown into traffic or other objects, increasing the chances of internal bleeding and serious head injuries like TBIs (traumatic brain injury).

Getting medical attention immediately is often key. Even if you feel like you’re just bruised at the scene of the accident, critical injuries can be hidden from the naked eye for a cyclist or pedestrian who survives an accident. Having a doctor’s screening tests conducted immediately after gives you the best chance of receiving an accurate diagnosis, taking necessary follow-up precautions, and watching for concerning symptoms.

If you’re a pedestrian or cyclist on any of the busy streets of California, know that Dunnion Law is here for you. We’re proud of our reputation in California for taking these cases seriously and putting our client’s needs front and center.

We recognize the critical and even life-threatening injuries you likely sustained as a pedestrian or bicyclist. Your life might never look the same and your injuries could be so severe that you may never be able to return to work. With so much to think about, Dunnion Law is proud to be at your side navigating the legal system so that you always know the status and next steps of your case.