Right Hook and Left Cross: How to Avoid Common Bicycle Accidents

Even if you’re riding a bicycle, you are expected to follow the standard traffic laws applying to motorists. Likewise, certain expectations exist for drivers as well with regard to bicyclists out on the road. It’s therefore crucial that you know what to look out for, whether you’re behind the wheel or pedaling.

What are the Right Hook and the Left Cross?

For cyclists, pay attention; and for motorists, simply be aware. The first common accident involving cyclists and bikers involve what is commonly called the right hook. Typically cyclists and automobiles would be riding in the same direction, side by side oftentimes. The problem occurs when a car wants to make a right-hand turn, misjudging the speed of the biker on the side. What then happens is the car turns right in front of the biker, causing an accident. A left cross, however, differs greatly. For one, this type of accident involves the cyclist riding in the opposite direction of the car. It happens when a motorist is making a left-hand turn. Usually drivers only observe the road for other automobiles but don’t look far enough into the bicycle lane to watch out for riders. This can result in an accident, causing potential harm, or damage to both vehicles.

Ways for a Cyclist to Avoid Both Potential Accidents

There are measures to take to avoid disaster, of course. Cyclists can anticipate right hooks. They often can slow down and let cars pass in front of them. Taking the lane in front of the car also manages well; however, a cyclist may also simply fall behind a vehicle regardless of a potential cross or hook. Cyclists take a cycling safety course for a refresher on the local laws and best practices. Exercising self-control is paramount. Defensive driving makes that much more sense in many situations. Additionally, drivers MUST look two directions for bikes before they make a turn. This applies to left turns and right turns.

Cyclists Must Follow Traffic Laws and Obey Right of Way

Many would think the automobiles have the “right of way.” Strictly speaking, in many states, that’s not the case. The general rule of thumb exists: same roads, same rights, same responsibilities. This means especially in the case of intersections with stop signs, if you’re on the right side, and you get to the middle first, you turn first; it then moves to the left. When a biker sits on the right side of the street, next to a vehicle, the law applies here: that cyclist has the right of way. All other vehicles must abide by that law. It is, however, important to note that bikers have a direct legal responsibility to ensure they’re completely visible, especially at night. Reflective materials and clothing are mandated. In any accident, it may be the case that a cyclist could be responsible for damages as well.

Always Remember to Follow Your H.E.A.R.T.

That stands for Help, Exchange contact information, Arrange medical care, Report to authorities situations of personal injury or other events, and then of course Talk to an attorney about your case. As always, definitely take plenty of pictures of the scene to ensure all parties have as much information as possible.

Written on behalf of Fred Dudek by AskTheLawyers.comDisclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.


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