National Safety Month – Share the Roads Safely
According to a report published by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) in San Francisco alone, there are more than 450,000 registered vehicles. With over 7 million people in the Bay Area, many of whom walk or bike to work, the need for drivers, pedestrians and bikers to share the roads safely is clear. As part of National Safety Month, Bay Area Accident Attorney, Edward Casey Jr., shares his tips on sharing the roads safely.
Drivers – Learn How to Share With Others
Self driving cars may soon be on the horizon, but until then, drivers, it’s your responsibility to safely share the roads. With increasing traffic (San Francisco commuters spent 75 hours sitting in traffic last year, according to traffic monitoring group INRIX) it’s now more important than ever.
- Keep informed. Driving is complex, and involves sharing the road with a variety of other vehicle types, pedestrians, and even animals. Ensure that you are informed about what you might encounter on the road with trucks, buses, RVs, motorcycles, bicycles, etc. Driversed.com offers a comprehensive overview of potential issues to help prepare for all situations.
- Stay aware. This includes not using smart phones while driving (a practice that could result in fines under California law). Be particularly vigilant in places where there are high numbers of children, such as near schools, parks and playgrounds.
- Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. Drivers risk fines and community service if they fail to bring their vehicles to a complete stop at crosswalks to allow pedestrians to pass in front of them.
- Slow down and obey speed limits. Car crashes can be horrific, but they are even worse with faster vehicle speeds.
- Allow three feet when passing bicyclists. California passed a law in 2014 (California Vehicle Code section 21760) which requires that drivers maintain a minimum 3-foot buffer when passing a bicyclist. Bike East Bay, in conjunction with the California Bike Coalition, provides a terrific summary of the law.
- Slow down in congested areas. Many accidents happen when backing out of a driveway or parking space. Drivers should pay close attention in those areas to make sure that there are no cyclists, walkers or joggers approaching.
- Consider your driving conditions. Weather conditions like rain, fog, ice, snow, and dust make a difference in your normal driving and your ability to see. Many cyclists and pedestrians do not wear reflective clothing, which can make it harder to spot them in low light conditions. Watch carefully and reduce your speed to avoid accidents in these conditions.
Cyclists – Follow The Same Rules of Road
Each year in California, more than 100 people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured in bicycle collisions– Some related to the cyclists’ behavior, while others are due to the motorists’ lack of attention. Regardless, when traveling on public roads, cyclists should follow the same rules of the road as motorized vehicles. Refer to California Driver handbook to become familiar with these rules.
- Ride lawfully and respectfully. Don’t run stop signs or red lights, or use the wrong side of the street. It is best and safest to ride single file if you can, especially on narrow curvy roads.
- Ride with traffic. It’s generally illegal or unsafe to ride on the sidewalk or on roads towards oncoming traffic. As a rule it’s best to ride in the direction of traffic, staying as far to the right as possible. However, be sure to give yourself enough room to maneuver in the event of an an emergency or road hazard.
- Protect yourself from head injuries. Always wear a helmet, even for quick trips to the corner store. Make sure that your helmet fits snugly and doesn’t move when you shake your head.
- Stay visible and communicate your intentions. Make eye contact with drivers if possible, and communicate your intentions with hand signals. Wear reflective clothing and make sure your bicycle is equipped with reflective lights in the front, side and rear.
Pedestrians – See and Be Seen
For pedestrians, staying alert to the conditions around you is one of the most important factors in sharing the roads safely. Pay attention to your surroundings, and make every effort to be visible to others on the road.
- Look both ways before crossing the street. Look left, right and left again to make sure no cars are coming or turning into the crosswalk.
- Never assume approaching vehicles can see you or will stop. Wait until all vehicles have stopped before you cross the street
- Avoid distractions. If you have headphones in your ears, you might not be able to hear oncoming traffic. If you are looking at your smartphone, you’re not fully aware of your surroundings.
- Be visible. Wear light-colored or reflective clothing when walking or running in the early morning or evening.
Knowing how to share the roads safely can help you stay alive and avoid injury to others.
The accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Edward C. Casey represent people who are injured in accidents that are not their fault. If you or a loved one was injured in a serious accident, we can help protect your legal rights and ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve. Contact our office today for a free consultation.