Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

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Thumbnail image for 1214589454Q2B5aO.jpgWe have been posting recently on the things that bicycle riders need to consider when buying a new cycle or getting out to ride in this great summer weather. We want to focus in this post on the things that cyclists should bring along to make sure they ride safe and sound.

Representing cyclists as a Gwinnett County bicycle crash lawyer, I know how important these safety precautions are for riders to be safer on Georgia’s roads. We can never be too prepared or too obvious as riders, especially when we are sharing the road with other vehicles.

It is important to have all the items necessary to fix a tire such as a frame pump, a spare tire tube, tire levers to remove tire from rim and a patch kit. A multi-tool which you can pick up at your local bike shop, is also an important piece of equipment to have with you. It is also important to ensure that your bike has proper lights and reflectors, including a white headlight visible from at least 300 feet for riding in low- visibility conditions such as fog or at dusk.

Riders also need to remember both during the hot days of summer and in general to stay well-hydrated by carrying water. Carrying a water bottle on your bike frame is a great way to keep hydration close by.

When riding at night, Georgia law requires several safety precautions including rear reflectors. There are several types of tail lights that will show either flashing or solid red. Some of these are detachable so that you can remove them from your bike when you aren’t riding at night. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-296 (a) requires that: “Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety which shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. A light emitting a red light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.”

One of the most important pieces of safety equipment is a rear-view mirror. This is as important as your helmet in terms of keeping you safe on the road. The rear-view mirror helps to ensure safe turns, but does not replace the need for looking over your shoulder to make sure there are no vehicles approaching before a turn.

Other important items that you should carry with you in case of emergency include your personal identification, emergency contact information and your cell phone. It is also helpful to put a few dollars in your pocket in case you need hydration or need to make a phone call and don’t have your phone with you. Bring some energy bars in case you need some nourishment on the road.

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Thumbnail image for bicycles on georgia roadThe spring cycling season is barely in full swing and the Atlanta area has suffered yet another loss of life. The third in only a couple of weeks. A Marietta man, known by locals as “deaf Joe” and held with great affection by Burger King patrons and co-workers, has been struck and killed while riding his bike near the Cobb County Transit bus terminal. He served as a cook at the restaurant that is now mourning his loss. My heart goes out to all who knew him and to his family. The police have now arrested a suspect in this tragedy.

In my law practice as a Cobb County bicycle accident lawyer, I know from many years of experience supporting victims and families, that these losses are difficult to bear. The loss of “Deaf Joe” is felt by many in the community.

The driver of the vehicle that struck him down hit him and ran. Hit and run accidents appear to be on the rise, but they are no less confusing for law-abiding citizens who cannot imagine leaving the scene of an accident they have caused.

One of his co-workers said yesterday that he usually was at work early in the morning and dedicated to his job. He also was an aspiring rapper who rapped in sign language. What a great person and great loss to our community. Although he did not speak, he rapped in sign language and wrote notes. He was said by his co-workers to be a person willing to pitch in when anyone needed him.

Sadly, this is the second fatal bicycle hit-and-run accident in only two weeks. Another Marietta man was killed while riding late last month. Witnesses reported that the man was struck by perhaps a black SUV that could have been a Cadillac Escalade.

Only yesterday, the Marietta police asked the public for information to help solve the most recent hit and run accident. Both evidence at the scene and a tip are reportedly the information needed to enable the police to identify the vehicle that was involved and to arrest the suspect.

He has been charged with several violations of Georgia law, including hit and run, DUI and first degree vehicular homicide. Under Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393 (b), “[a]ny driver of a motor vehicle who, without malice aforethought, causes an accident which causes the death of another person and leaves the scene of the accident in violation of subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years.”

As was perhaps the case here, many hit and run accidents are solved with witness information. Sometimes, the witness is not a witness to the accident, but sees the damage to the vehicle that wasn’t present before. This might even be a family member. When motorists have new damage to their vehicle that fits with the hit and run, often they try to get repairs done at body shops without notifying their insurance carriers. Body shops should remain aware of such accidents and contact authorities if there is anything suspicious about the damage to the vehicle or if the person who owns the vehicle wants to pay cash for the repairs.

The spokesperson for the Marietta police was quoted yesterday as saying: ” ‘It’s hard for me to understand how somebody could run someone down and not stop, but that’s what we have here.’ ” I agree with this sentiment and hope more citizens will understand that leaving the scene is not acceptable morally and is a violation of the law.

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bicycles on georgia roadJust as I posted last week about the importance of wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, we learn that an Atlanta man was struck by a hit and run driver over the weekend. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, but passed away from his injuries. Authorities are searching for the vehicle and the driver that struck the man.

We do not know whether the deceased man was wearing a helmet or not. But as a Gwinnett County bicycle injury lawyer, I can say with certainty that it is critically important to expect the unexpected and to ride with care and with a helmet. Even with a helmet, being struck by a motor vehicle can still result in serious injury or death.

And Georgians know that not only must they share the road, they must pull over safely to lend support after an accident that causes injury. A hit and run is a very serious matter and is not permitted under Georgia law. Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-270, “[t]he driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident” or as close to the accident as possible. This of course applies whether the driver hits a pedestrian or a person riding a bike or another vehicle.

As the better weather approaches, I want to remind readers of the importance of riding defensively when possible. It is likely we will see an increase in many types of outdoor activity-related injuries as we move into riding and boating season.

Statistics show that when bikes and vehicles collide, very serious injuries are often going to occur. In 2010, 618 lives were lost in crashes involving bicycles and motor vehicles. Bicycle crashes may be lower than they have been in previous decades, but the accuracy of their reporting is not clear since a fraction of those involved in bicycle crashes are reported by authorities. In reality, bicyclists represent a very small number by percentage of those killed in traffic accidents. As recently as 2010, that number was only at two percent. The source for these statistics is where you can read more about bikes, safety and more.

Given the fact that when bikes and vehicles collide, there is a greater likelihood of injury we all need to consider how to keep ourselves and our families safe while bicycling. Here are some things that we all need to think about before we start our rides and while riding our bicycles.

When sharing bikes paths make sure that you can be seen and that you are aware of pedestrians who walk with headphones and other distractions these days, as well as those walking their dogs, skating and other cyclists. When sharing the roads, cyclist should always ride with the traffic. It is also important to ride as close to the right as possible and never to wear headphones while riding a bike on the road with motor vehicles. You need all your senses to ensure your safety.

It may seem obvious, but it is important for bicycle riders to avoid drinking and riding. A high percentage of bike crashes involve some sort of impairment on the part of the rider, possibly as many as one-third.

As we have posted previously, it is very important for your safety to wear a helmet. There is really no doubt about this. We know that head injuries represent a high percentage of serious injury and death while riding a bike. For more information about wearing a helmet properly, visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute website.

Many riders forget that even helmets wear out. Make sure yours is still safe. Get it checked by a cycling store and check it yourself. The Snell Foundation notes that many factors weaken helmets, such as sun, sweat and hair products. If you drop your helmet on a hard surface that can weaken it as well.

When riding your bike make sure that you are seen by drivers and other riders. Some cyclists weave in an out but riding in a predictable fashion is far safer. And of course wear a light or place a reflector on you and/or your bicycle so that drivers can see your bike at night. The Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-296 requires that “[e]very bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety which shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. A light emitting a red light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.”

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candles .jpgA recent tragedy underscores the need for drivers to share the road with bikes and motorcycles. Last week, a young Texas father who started as a music pastor in his hometown church, and later became a worship pastor, was hit and killed while riding his bicycle on U.S. 41. What should have been a wonderful holiday weekend for his family, was instead full of sorrow and sadness. In my work as an Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer, I have represented those injured on motorcycles and bicycles by drivers who did not share the road.

Although we don’t know what happened in this accident, we know the outcome. One young man has lost his life. Our hearts go out to his family and his community.

The young pastor was cycling in the afternoon in good weather. He was near Red Top Mountain when a charter bus hit and killed him. He had ridden on this route many times before as an avid cyclist.

The Bartow County Fire Department is reported by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution to have said that the young man “was wearing a helmet, but he was critically injured.” He was taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta and passed away there.

He was devoted to his wife and his three young children. He and his wife were both involved in music and are loved by their community. His father, also a pastor, said that in the wake of this tragedy, the family was experiencing” ‘intense grief, beyond comprehension.’ ” Their faith is helping them through their grief. The church community is mourning along with this young man’s family.

We don’t yet have much more information on how this accident occurred. Sadly, it serves as a terrible reminder that keeping our eyes on the road and sharing it for all using it, whether motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists, is important for our health and happiness. Too often we read about the consequences of failing to do so, which apparently happened in this tragic cycling accident.

If you are interested in learning more about Share the Road efforts, please visit the Georgia Bikes website. There you find out about the efforts of this organization and join it as well.

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