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National Bike Month Part IV: Most Common Accidents

May is National Bike Month and we are dedicating our blogs in the month of May to promoting education, awareness and safety in bicycling. This is Part Four in our series.


When it comes to accidents between bicycles and motor vehicles, there are some patterns that emerge from crash statistics, and these patterns suggest what cyclists and drivers should be aware of or do in order to avoid becoming a crash statistic themselves. The following scenarios are the most common types of bicycle-motor vehicle accidents:

1. The first most common type of accident is when a cyclist has a stop sign at the intersection and the motorist does not. The cyclist stops at the stop sign and then proceeds into the intersection in front of the car, misjudging the speed and distance of the car entering the intersection, and a collision occurs.

2. The second most common type of collision at an intersection occurs when the reverse happens: the motorist has a stop sign and the cyclist does not. The best way to avoid these two types of accidents is to ride with traffic. Bicycles are considered vehicles, and therefore should occupy space in the lane of traffic and travel in the same direction as motor vehicles.

3. The third most common type of accident occurs when a bicycle and motor vehicle approach an intersection from opposite directions; the motorist turns left while the cyclist proceeds straight through the intersection without yielding. This accident is nicknamed the “left cross.” One way to avoid it if you are the cyclist is to turn right, effectively turning into the lane with the motorist.

4. The fourth most common type of accident occurs when a motor vehicle and bicycle approach the intersection from the same direction, and the motor vehicle turns right, cutting off the bicycle. This accident is often called the “right hook.” The cyclist can avoid being cut off by taking the lane—again, remembering that bicycles are vehicles under the law. Cyclists should also be careful to never ride in a motorist’s blind spot, thereby decreasing the likelihood that a motorist will turn into their path.

Intersections, driveways and other junctions are the locations where three-fourths of crashes between motorists and cyclists occur. Cyclists would do well to avoid routes that have a lot of driveways, parking lot entrances and exits, and alleyways. If routes with these junctions cannot be avoided, cyclists should ride in the middle of a traffic lane and not on the right side where these junctions occur.


In a study done by the Federal Highway Administration, young cyclists under 15 years old, and especially those between 10-14 years old, were found to be over-represented in crashes with motor vehicles. Cyclists over 44 years old were over-represented with respect to serious and fatal injuries from crashes with motor vehicles. Overall, collisions with motor vehicles led to serious and fatal injuries in approximately 18% of crashes.

Bicyclists were found to be at fault in approximately half of crashes with motor vehicles. The most commonly cited contributing factors were: failure to yield; riding against traffic; stop sign violations; and safe movement violations. Motorists were judged to be solely at fault in approximately 28% of cases, with the most frequently cited driver contributing factors being: failure to yield; hit and run; and failure to see cyclist.


If you or someone you know has been in an accident involving a bicycle and a motor vehicle, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights to recover for injuries, lost wages, future earnings, and

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