Shocking Bicycle Accidents Continue as California Creates New Safety Laws
California is being forced to take action after a slew of worrisome bicycle accidents in the state. These accidents are claiming the lives of victims, both young and old, and they force us all to reconsider just what road safety actually means. Where do we draw the line? How many bike fatalities will it take for people to take action? What about the recent news about defective bike helmets that potentially make it even easier for cyclists to suffer life-changing or fatal injuries?
There are many questions – too many to answer. The one silver lining is that the victims of these accidents can file lawsuits and recover compensation for their damages. But what is happening in the world of bike safety, and how is the California government responding? Is it just a case of “too little, too late,” or will this help save lives? Let’s find out.
California’s New Bike Safety Law: Will it Really Make a Difference?
On December 29, 2022, it was reported that Gavin Newsom had approved Assembly Bill 1909, which requires drivers to maintain a safe distance from cyclists when passing. The bill also states that drivers should switch lanes if at all possible when passing cyclists. At the very least, drivers are now required to give cyclists about three feet of space when passing. While the three-foot rule has been discussed for years, the obligation to switch lanes is a new development. The law took effect on January 1st of 2023, but as of this writing, it is too early to tell whether it will have any measurable effect on bike safety, bike accidents, and bike fatalities.
If drivers are caught violating this law, they face a range of penalties depending on the county. That being said, violators face fines of at least $238 for not giving cyclists enough space. If a violation is accompanied by a cyclist injury, that fine skyrockets to $982. Of course, that fine of almost $1,000 is only the beginning when it comes to financial penalties because the negligent driver may also face a personal injury lawsuit filed by the cyclist.
This comes after the government released worrying data about bicycle accidents in California. According to the most recent surveys, a total of 129 cyclists died in the state during 2020 alone. A further 925 cyclists suffered serious but nonfatal injuries.
Despite this new law, some critics point out that it could be very difficult to enforce. How can a driver judge a three-foot distance from a bicycle while traveling at full speed? What if the driver is much higher than the cyclist in an SUV or pickup truck? Others say that even though the three-foot rule was already in place, cyclists are regularly passed by very closely – with no consequences. Some even purposely drive as close as possible while yelling abuse at the cyclists out of their windows.
Since this violation is now on the books, it may become even easier to sue negligent drivers than ever before. If a driver fails to switch lanes while passing a cyclist, an ensuing accident could put them in serious trouble. Not switching lanes has now become a clear sign of negligence, and this is welcome news for cyclists with serious, life-altering, and expensive injuries.
Bike Helmets Recalled
On January 20, 2023, it was reported that three different bike helmet models had been recalled due to safety concerns. The brand in question is Sakar International, and they have been forced to recall their helmets due to noncompliance with federal safety standards. The recall is active throughout the United States – including states like California. The three specific models are:
- CredHedz Lizard Helmets
- Crayola Dry Erase Helmets
- Tony Hawk Multi-Purpose Helmets
Federal regulators state that the helmets do not offer proper positional stability and retention systems, violating safety standards for cyclist helmets. The authorities stated that “The helmets can fail to protect in the event of a crash, posing a risk of head injury.” No lawsuits have been reported thus far, but this could change quickly. It is unclear how the federal regulators became aware of the safety problems with bike helmets.
Woman in Critical Condition After Being Hit While Cycling
Bike accidents are common in California. On January 19th, it was reported that a woman in her 40s was hospitalized after a serious accident. According to the police, she was struck by a vehicle when she turned into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The driver apparently had no time to react and could not avoid the collision. Very little additional information was released besides the fact that she was in critical condition.
Bike accidents like this can cause a range of serious injuries, including head injuries, paralysis, bone fractures, and much more. One has to wonder whether California’s new bike safety law would have stopped accidents like this from happening. Was the driver passing by the cyclist when they suddenly changed direction? Would the extra space have made a difference? What if the driver had switched lanes?
Where Can I Find a Qualified Bicycle Accident Attorney in California?
If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced bicycle accident attorney in California, look no further than Mary Alexander & Associates. Over the years, we have helped numerous bicycle accident victims and their surviving family members seek justice. Although California is moving in the right direction with its new safety laws, accidents will undoubtedly continue to occur long into the future. Perhaps a more effective way to take action and spark change is to file a personal injury lawsuit.
These lawsuits draw attention to the safety issues plaguing bicyclists in California, and they can provide family members with real compensation for everything they have been forced to endure. Although no amount of money can ever bring your loved one back, a lawsuit may provide you with a sense of justice and closure. Book your consultation today to get started with a solid action plan.