Arizona is a great state for outdoor activities, including bicycling. One of the biggest groups of bicyclists in the state is children. Bikes provide a means of transportation as well as entertainment for kids who want some independence but are not yet old enough to drive. Most kids ride and never experience any problems but unfortunately that is not the case for every child.In fact, in 2011 alone, there were 665 people killed in bicycle accidents in the United States. While not all of these were children, unfortunately some were, and with the possibility of an accident or death, it is important for parents address bicycle safety with their children. Below our experienced Phoenix bicycle accident attorneys discuss more about how you can keep your kid safe while riding their bike.
When an accident occurs involving a child on a bike, an adult driver of a car almost always blames the child. The most common excuse is that the child is an inexperienced bicycle rider and that this led to a crash. This may be true in some cases but it certainly is not in every accident, and in many there may be fault with both the bicyclist and the driver.
The law in Arizona requires drivers to take note of bicyclists and to act with regard to a cyclist’s safety. The fact that the bicyclist is a child does not remove all responsibility from a driver to act cautiously despite what some adults may claim.
Why Accidents Occur
There are hundreds of reasons why an accident may occur involving a child on a bike. One of the most common reasons is that a driver of a car, bus, or van fails to see a child who is on a bicycle. When compared to adults, children usually sit closer to the ground while riding and may be below a driver’s natural line of sight, especially when a driver is in an elevated car like an SUV. This means that it is easier for a driver who is not looking for bicyclists to miss them and to cause a collision as a result. Kids can also be hard to see if they do not have a bicycle light or reflectors on their bike while riding at night. Each city has its own rules and regulations related to bicycles but most require these basic safety features to increase the visibility to bicyclists and to reduce the number of accidents.
Turning drivers cause a large number of bicycle accidents as well. When a driver intends to turn either left or right, the driver may be focused on vehicular traffic and fail to consider pedestrian or bicycle traffic that may be present. For example, a driver who wants to turn right against a red light may be looking to the driver’s left to determine when traffic clears. Once there is no oncoming traffic, that driver may begin to proceed with the turn and without checking for bicycle traffic crossing in front of the vehicle. If there is a child on a bicycle crossing at the same time the driver turns right, a collision may occur. These crashes result when a driver is not cautious, is distracted, fails to keep a proper lookout, or otherwise disregards the safety of the bicyclist at the intersection.
It is startling how many accidents happen where parents least expect them: in their own neighborhood. Many parents feel that a residential area is the safest place for a child to ride a bicycle and that nothing bad can happen if the child is close to home. While a residential area is safer than many other areas, collisions with cars still happen often in these neighborhoods and can turn tragic. Many are caused by speeding cars who do not abide by speed limits. When a driver is traveling faster than allowed in an area, it can be more difficult to stop in the event something is in the driver’s path of travel, like a child on a bike. Accidents within a neighborhood somehow seem more tragic because parents want to believe that their child will be safe when close to home.
How to Keep Children Safe
The best thing any parent can do to keep their child safe is to educate the child on proper bicycle procedures. This means that kids should be told to always follow the rules in their city or town and to obey all traffic signals. Parents should review any applicable laws in their area since some places have very strict rules about the ages of children that can and cannot ride bicycles on sidewalks.
Like anything in life, children are more likely to model what they see their parents do than what they hear their parents speak. This means if you want your child to practice safe riding, you should do the same. Always require your family to wear bicycle helmets that fit properly and are designed to protect the head in the event of a crash. Nationally, only about 45 percent of children wear bicycle helmets despite the fact that helmets are believed to decrease the risk of head injury by 88 percent. You should also teach your children to use hand signals to indicate an intent to turn and to always ride defensively. Keep in mind that children do not have the same thought process as adults. Without a large number of life events to base decision-making on, your children may not be able to rationalize proper conduct as well as you can, so you should take time to explain what safe riding is and what is means.
What to Do if Your Child has been Hurt
It is every parent’s nightmare to get a call that your child has been in an accident. If that has happened to you, be aware that you and your child have legal rights and that you may have a claim for your damages. When a child is hurt by an at-fault driver, the law steps in to let you make a claim for your child’s injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and any other loss experienced.
The Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. regularly represent children who are involved in bicycle accidents and we are standing by 24 hours a day to help you.
If your child has been injured and you would like a free case consultation, please call us at (602) 819-5191 or contact us online today.