May is Bicycle Safety month, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding drivers and bicyclists to do their part to help reduce deaths and injuries on our roads.
“We encourage bicyclists and motorists to put safety first,” said Deputy Administrator Heidi King. “Take simple precautions - remain focused to the road and the traffic around you; anticipate what others may do, before they do.”
All States require bicyclists on the roadway to follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorists. There are two main types of crashes involving bicycles; the most common are falls and the most serious are with vehicles. In 2016, NHTSA data shows that 840 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States, an increase from 829 in 2015, accounting for 2.2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities.
Tips for Bicyclists:
- Always wear a properly-fitted helmet that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.
- Check your bike equipment before heading out: check for proper fit and function, including tires, brakes, handlebars and seats.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic, as a vehicle on the road.
- Obey traffic signs, signals, and lane markings; signal all turns; and follow local laws.
- Be predictable; ride in a straight line and use hand signals when changing lanes or turning.
- Stay focused; look ahead for traffic and obstacles in your path.
- Be visible: wear bright colors, reflective materials and lights on your bicycle at night and in low light conditions.
- Stay alert: don’t use electronic devices.
- Ride safe; riding impaired by alcohol or drugs affects your judgment and skill; it affects your safety and others on the road
Tips for Motorists:
- Pass bicyclists on the road with care; allow at least three feet clearance.
- Look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space.
- Yield to bicyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals.
- Look for bicyclists before making turns, either left or right.
- Respect designated bicycle lanes; don’t use them for parking, passing or turning.
- Never drive distracted or impaired. Always buckle up.
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safety; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
Additional information about bicycle safety is available here.