Bike Accident Legal Advice
They say that when it rains, it pours—and it often does. Similarly, when it snows during the long, cold winters in Utah, it can really come down. When the powder starts to pile up, skiers get giddy and snowboarders smile. But if snowstorms mean nothing more to you than a longer commute to work, you may not be so excited. Especially if you’re one of the many people who commute to work on a bicycle. Most people switch to cars during the winter in Utah, but some can’t or don’t for a variety of reasons, including lack of a car, a preference for biking, or an attempt to do their part to improve the air quality in the Salt Lake Valley by not adding another car’s exhaust fumes to the already smog-filled skies trapped under the inversion.
Even though road conditions are far worse during precipitation—especially rain and wet snow—and the frequency of car crashes increases dramatically, the raw number of weather-related biking accidents actually goes down during storms, which makes sense because there are fewer cyclists on the road in bad weather. However, it is very important to remember that this number is deceptively low. The more revealing number is the percentage of bicycle accidents to total accidents, or the percentage of bike car accidents to the total number of cyclists on the road. Unfortunately, the data necessary to determine this figure is unavailable, because there is no accurate count of the number of cyclists on the roads.
Although only 2% of (reported) bicycle accidents in the U.S. result in the cyclist’s death, injuries are far more common. The less serious of these aren’t accurately reflected in the bike accident statistics because police often don’t file an accident report if the cyclist is not seriously hurt. This lack of reporting damages the accuracy of the statistical data collected on bike accidents because the data set is incomplete, which can lead researchers to draw skewed conclusions.
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Fatal bike accidents yield far more reliable data. The number of cyclists killed each year in the U.S. is usually between 600 and 800, with the yearly average for the 10-year period from 2002 to 2011 falling just below 700, at 693. There is also fairly extensive data regarding bicycle collisions with cars, so it’s easier to work with. In Utah in 2012, there were 9 bicycle-motor vehicle collisions attributed to vision obscured by weather conditions, which constitutes 1.1 percent of total bike-car accidents for that year. Comparatively, failure to yield the right of way is attributed to more than 44% of bike-car crashes, or 348 instances in 2012.
If you are riding a bicycle and are hit by a car: