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When cars and bikes don't share: how to make road warriors play nice

Author: Debbie Nguyen
Published: Aug 15 2013

When you consider that an average car weighs about 4000 pounds and a bicycle typically tops out at thirty pounds, the concept of sharing the road between the two is rather ludicrous. We need all modes of transportation. Ideally, everyone on the roads should be respectful of others so that we can all travel safely.

When cars and bikes don't share

As summer is progressing and we are enjoying warm weather, your child will probably want to get out more often on his own. He probably wants to tool around the neighborhood on his bike to the pool or to a friend’s. In states where warm weather lasts for the majority of the year, cycling is more popular than ever. “Whether you use your bike for a primary method of transportation or whether you ride your bike as a leisure activity, the negligent actions of motorists can place you in harm’s way,” according to a Tampa car accident lawyer. Although motorists are legally responsible for keeping an eye on the road, it is also important for bicyclists to remain fully cognizant of their surroundings at all times. Sadly, 33 percent of traffic accidents that involve a bicycle will end up with the bicyclist being hospitalized, either with a brain injury or a spinal cord injury.

There are several ways that you can help your child stay safe while he is riding his bike, but you will need to ensure that he understands why he needs to follow certain rules of the road. Your child on his bike is no match for the harried driver on the phone in the giant SUV.

Keeping Your Child Safe on a Bike

1. Make Sure he ALWAYS Wears a Helmet - Regardless of how an accident happens, if your child is not wearing a helmet, the odds are high that he will end up with a head injury. In fact, 67 percent of the children who are hospitalized after an accident sustain a head injury due to not wearing a properly fitted helmet.

2. Teach Him to Ride WITH Traffic - Riding against traffic is illegal in most areas, and it can also be extremely dangerous. After all, motorists expect bicycles to be on their right and driving with traffic at all times, and this expectation keeps them from looking for someone who is not following this guideline. Your child should always obey traffic laws.

3. Stick to Bicycle Lanes and Sidewalks - In some areas, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, so you will need to verify your town’s legal guidelines. However, as long as it is legal, it is a good idea to teach children to stick to sidewalks and bicycle lanes in order to avoid dealing with the issue of motorists who hog the road.

4. Make Him Stand Out - Even if it is the middle of the day, motorists are still more likely to notice a bicycle that has a reflector on it. You can also consider putting a bell or horn on the bike that your child can activate if a motorist gets too close to him. Have him dress in colorful clothing and discourage him from riding at night in the dark.

Dealing With an Accident

Unfortunately, many motorists are too busy interacting with their cell phone or radio to pay close enough attention to the road. This can easily lead to accidents, especially if the vehicle swerves because the driver temporarily takes their eyes off of the road. Sharing the road means drivers need to use good etiquette and be respectful of others on the road. They need to be aware of their surroundings, use turn signals, and yield to cyclists. If a road hog does stray onto your child’s pathway and makes physical contact with your child or his bike, your child should know what to do immediately after. Teach him that it is treated just like any other traffic accident.

Steps to Take After the Accident

1. Remain at the Scene - Your child should call 911 and wait for a responder. Even if he doesn’t think he is hurt, he needs to wait for the police to arrive. Often times, an injury crops up much later after the accident. The police will document what happened, maybe even cite the driver. Of course, the second call (if it wasn’t the first) your child makes will be to you. Offer support and care. It can be a pretty scary experience.

2. Get Supporting Statements - If there were any witnesses, teach your child to get their names and contact information. It is also important to get the driver’s name, and his license and insurance information.

3. Document your Child’s Version - Write down what happened from your child’s point of view. Note any injuries. Do it as soon as possible when it is fresh in your child’s mind. In times of trauma, memories can get fuzzy.

4. Get Professional Help - Of course, if your child was injured badly, seek the help of a doctor immediately. But after that, it is a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney.

Ultimately your child is responsible for his own safety when he is on the road. Make sure he practices good road etiquette, bikes responsibly and stays alert. Even with all these safety measures in place, he could still get hurt. That’s the time you need to step in and give him your support.

Debbie Nguyen is a designer and blogger in the Atlanta area and remembers waking up to a dog licking her face as she was disentangling herself from her bike after a crash. Tampa car accident lawyer, Williams Law Association, P.A., provides personalized and attentive legal help to bike accident victims.

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