Bicycle accidents are becoming more frequent in Massachusetts as the weather warms up. According to statistics, there are about 7 bike accident deaths each year in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, in 2020 there were 10 bicycle-related deaths, while 2021 saw 5 fatalities, and 8 deaths in 2022. The past two years also witnessed over 400 bike crashes in Massachusetts. It is crucial to acknowledge that bike accidents can happen and may cause severe injuries.
Causes of Bike Accidents in Massachusetts
Various factors can contribute to bike accidents in Massachusetts, but most accidents occur when motorists disregard bicyclists’ rights and space on the road. They may fail to operate safely for the road conditions or simply not pay attention. Bicyclists can also cause accidents by disobeying traffic laws and not following the rules of the road.
Laws Addressing Bike Accidents in Massachusetts
The state of Massachusetts has several laws aimed at reducing bike accidents and improving road safety. These laws include:
- Mass. Gen. Law Ch. 90, Section 14 which mandates that motorists and passengers check for bicyclists before opening their doors. This law attempts to prevent what is commonly known as getting “doored” which is a type of accident that happens when the doors of a parked car open as a cyclist is passing. This may cause the cyclist to run into the door of the car and fly over their handlebars, over the door, and land on the road.
- Massachusetts laws prohibit motorists from making abrupt right turns at intersections and driveways after passing a cyclist and also allow bicyclists to pass vehicles on the right. The most dangerous bicycle accident occurs when a car passes a cyclist on the cyclist’s left, and then makes a right-hand turn in front of the cyclist. A driver often misjudges the speed of cyclists and fails to understand how close the cyclist is to the car prior to making the turn.
- Mass. Gen. Law Ch. 85, Section 11B, requires bicyclists to obey all traffic laws and use headlights and tail lights when riding at night.
- Massachusetts law mandates that motorists allow a safe distance to pass a bicyclist, and if there is no enough room to safely do so, the motorist has to wait until it is safe. This law attempts to avoid rear-end collisions with cyclists and ensure a motorist has enough room to pass the cyclist.
- Massachusetts law allows a maximum of two cyclists riding together, except on roads with more than one lane in the direction of travel, in which case they must ride in a single lane.
- Mass. Gen. Law Ch. 85, Section 11B(2)(ii)-(iii) disallows babies under the age of one to be transported on a bicycle and requires any person under the age of 16 to wear a helmet.
- Massachusetts law dictates that motorists yield to oncoming bicyclists when making left turns. This law helps eliminate a left collision accident which occurs when a cyclist is riding straight through an intersection, and a car driving in the opposite direction takes a left turn and either hits the cyclist or forces the cyclist to collide with them.
Preventing Bike Accidents in Massachusetts
Cyclists can take several measures to help prevent bike accidents in Massachusetts. The most important step is to wear a helmet. Research has shown that helmets can reduce the severity of head injuries, potentially avoiding life-changing consequences. Cyclists should also control their speed, wear bright or reflective clothing, and always follow the rules of the road.
Contact an Experienced Bicycle Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been involved in a bike accident in Massachusetts, seeking legal help may be necessary. An experienced bicycle lawyer can guide you through the legal process and help you obtain compensation for your injuries. If you need assistance, call Ed at Mazzaferro Law today at (401) 335-0078 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.