Kentucky Bicycle Accidents
Bicycles are increasingly common in our society, serving as toys for younger children, recreation and transportation for older children, exercise for adults of all ages, and major means of transport for some adults. That means that bikes share roads, streets, driveways, and parking lots with motor vehicles that are considerably larger, considerably heavier, and considerably faster than bicycles. Like motorcycles, bicycles can be very hard for motorists to see under many circumstances, especially given how distracted modern drivers may be as they combine driving with cell phones, eating, listening to music through headphones, and other activity that hampers concentration.
Bike Accident Statistics
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects extensive information on “pedalcycle” accidents—involving all pedaled vehicles (one, two, and three-wheeled)—for the nation. In 2014:
- 726 cyclists died, which was two percent of all the nation’s traffic fatalities that year
- Just over 70 percent of those cyclist deaths took place in urban areas
- The average age of the cyclists who died was 45, continuing a steady rise from the average age of 39 back in 2005
- In more than 35 percent of fatal cyclist accidents, either the cyclist or the driver of the vehicle with which the cycle collided had been drinking
- Just under a quarter of the cyclists who died had blood alcohol levels of .01 percent or higher
Kentucky has its share of bike accidents, especially in urban areas. A 2014 study of bicycle accidents in Lexington, KY, for example, found that:
- 25 percent of cyclists who were involved in a collision did not have a helmet
- 21 percent were hit-and-run accidents
The lack of helmet use is likely behind the fact that bicycle accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries for Kentucky children in the 5 to 14-year-old range.
Kentucky Traffic Rules and Bicycles
The state regulates the rules of the road by which bicyclists are expected to operate and specify various equipment that bicycles must have. These are often supplemented by local regulations, especially in urban areas.
First, it is crucial to understand that bicycles are considered vehicles for purposes of the traffic laws. By state law, they generally are required to ride as far to the left as possible given the circumstances on the road. There are rules for motorists while passing bicyclists and rules for bicyclists when passing and turning. Bicyclists must obey the traffic rules at intersections. Among the many other traffic rules for bicycles:
- They should carry only as many people as the bike is equipped to handle.
- At least one hand must be kept on the handlebars.
- Bicyclists cannot grab or attach to other vehicles.
- Bicyclists may ride two abreast on state roads.
Second, bicycles are required to have various items of equipment that improve visibility and general safety. These include front and back lights visible from 500 feet at night or in dark conditions, and brakes. There is no statewide requirement that helmets be worn.
Bicyclists Prohibited from Riding under the Influence
Kentucky law specifically prohibits any vehicle from being operated while under the influence of alcohol or any substance that may impair driving ability. That prohibition applies to bicycles being operated on public ways. Drunken or drugged bicyclists can be charged with a DUI. Recovery for injuries a drunk or drugged bicyclist suffers in an accident is a lot more complicated than for a sober cyclist.
Injuries from Bike Accidents
Injuries from bicycle accidents can be minor, devastating, or fatal, depending on:
- The type of accident (simple fall to the side, flip over the handlebars, collision with a moving vehicle or stationary object)
- The speeds involved (both the bicycle and any other vehicle involved)
- Whether or not protective gear is worn by the bicyclist
- Pure dumb luck
While collisions with motor vehicles, especially those traveling at high speed, tend to cause the most severe injuries, the role of dumb luck affects everything. What appears to be a truly minor accident, like a cyclist stopping abruptly and tumbling forward over the handlebars, can cause a severe head injury in some cases, and no injury at all in others, depending on:
- What part of the cyclist’s body hits the road
- The angle at which it hits
- Whether the cyclist was wearing a good protective helmet
Catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord injuries and brain trauma, are not uncommon in bicycle accidents involving cars and trucks.
Get Legal Help for Bicycle Accident Injuries
It‘s surprising how many things can complicate what may first seem like a simple attempt to recover for injuries caused by a bicycle accident. Among the most common complications:
- Witness testimony that is conflicting (bystanders and/or the bicyclist and other motorists).
- The accident was a hit-and-run and the police are having a hard time finding the motorist who fled the scene.
- The accident involved only the bicycle and was unwitnessed.
- There are disputed claims that the bicyclist was in violation of traffic or other safety laws; that’s most problematic if it involves alcohol or drugs.
- There are disputed claims that the other motorist was in violation of traffic or other safety laws; again, that’s most problematic if it involves alcohol or drugs.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a bicycle accident, get the help of an experienced Kentucky bike accident lawyer who understands the many facets of these cases. At the Bowling Green, Kentucky, law firm of Lowder & McGill, PLLC, we have an impressive record of successful results in our past and the dedication and persistence to keep succeeding.
Call Lowder & McGill today to speak with one of our bicycle accident injury lawyers. There is no charge for the initial consultation and there is no fee unless we succeed.