In a previous post, we discussed important California laws related to the operation of a bicycle on streets and highways. These laws were designed to minimize the occurrence of bike-related accidents (see Riding a Bicycle on California Street? Useful Information to Avoid Accidents). In this post, we discuss various things one should do (and not do) to best avoid accidents at night and to minimize the personal injuries that typically result from auto vs. bike accidents. This blog post will be similar to a prior blog, Motorcycle Accidents: Increased Risk of Injury and Death. When riding a bicycle at night, a bicycle rider must have the following safety devices attached to their bike (taken directly from the CHP website):
A white headlamp, attached to the bicycle or your body, visible from 300 feet to the front and from the sides.
Red rear reflector
White or yellow reflectors on front and back of each pedal
White or yellow reflectors on each side forward of center of bike, and red or white reflectors on each side rear of center – usually mounted on wheel spokes (If you have reflectorized tires in front and rear, you do not need side reflectors.)”
Because bicycles are often overlooked by vehicles (and are harder to be seen by large trucks (i.e., big-rigs, semis, etc.), the use of reflectors and lighting is critical in the effort to avoid a serious accident. This allows the bicyclist to stand out not only at night, but also in shadows or against dark backdrops. While the law requires a motorcycle rider to wear a helmet, it is not the same for bicycle riders. Any bike rider who is under 18 years of age must wear a safety helmet while operating a bicycle on public roads and anyone who is a passenger on a bicycle who is under 18 years of age must also ride with a helmet. If you are over 18, the law does not mandate the use of a helmet, but with the chances of catastrophic injury increased during a bicycle accident, not using one may be the difference between life and death (or permanent injury). Much like a motorcycle rider, bike riders should, in addition to wearing a helmet, wear gloves, chest and spine protectors (typically found in the form of a thick vest or jacket specifically designed for riders), elbow and knee pads. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a bicycle, motorcycle, car or truck, contact our bicycle injury lawyer today for a free consultation.