Bicycle Accidents Caused by Right Turning Vehicles
Right-turning vehicles are responsible for a disproportionate number of bicycle crashes and fatalities.
Unfortunately, many drivers don't know how to safely make right turns near bicycles without putting them at risk. The problem is that they fail to yield or check their blind spots before executing the maneuver.
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Since the right-hand side of the road is where bicyclists travel, one of the most common traffic accidents involving bicycles is when a vehicle turns right and impedes or hits a bicycle.
These turns can happen so fast that there is no way for a cyclist to avoid being hit or hitting the vehicle as it turns into their path. There is often nowhere for the cyclist to go, trapped between traffic and the side of the road. These accidents can result in severe injuries that can take months, even years, to overcome.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents Chicago bicyclists injured in collisions with vehicles making right-hand turns in front of them. Contact our office for a free case review if you were injured in a bike accident involving a right-turning vehicle.
A lawyer with experience with these cases will personally review your case and advise you of your legal options for pursuing a claim or lawsuit against the responsible party. As with all of our bike accident cases, only a legal fee is charged for recovery for you.
Law Regarding Right Turning Vehicles
In Chicago, the Municipal Code is clear when it comes to right turns and bicycle safety. In Chapter 9-16-020 (f), the code indicates that vehicles that have bicycles traveling along the right side of them must be clear of the bicycle before making a right-hand turn.
It means that drivers must either wait for the bicycle to pass or be far ahead enough of the cyclists to make a safe right turn without impeding their path.
However, regardless of the law in Chicago and elsewhere with similar laws on the books, these accidents still occur. One of the main reasons is that many drivers are not accustomed to looking to their right when making a right-hand turn in a right lane.
Rules such as "right allowed on the red" where vehicles do not even need to stop at a red light when making a right-hand turn have created bad habits of not even stopping before making these turns.
Other reasons these right-turn bicycle accidents happen:
- Distracted drivers: Drivers texting or talking on their cell phones, looking at their GPS, or just daydreaming can forget to look behind them before turning.
- Blind spots: Even if a driver checks their mirrors before turning right, a cyclist can easily be hidden in their blind spot if they do not look over their shoulder.
- Low visibility: Blind intersections, poor weather, and nightfall conditions can make it difficult for a driver to see a cyclist before making their turn. Consider wearing reflective gear to avoid a collision during adverse weather or hazardous road conditions.
Motor Vehicles and Bikes Traveling in the Same Direction and Opposite Direction
Accident data shows that when cars and bikes traveling in the same direction but opposite lanes collide with cyclists, the car usually wins out. It means that if you are on a bicycle traveling straight and a vehicle makes a turn into your traffic lane, you could be injured or killed if riding behind them or alongside them.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, in 2009, 64 percent of all bike accidents involving motor vehicles were when cars and trucks made right-hand turns in front of the cyclists. It is why it is so important for drivers to know that right turns can take place anywhere, not just at intersections or stop signs.
When making a right-hand turn, stay far ahead of cyclists who are traveling toward you. If it is not safe to go ahead because of oncoming traffic, wait until it is clear before turning or passing cars. This extra time spent waiting will keep bicyclists and all other drivers around you safe from harm.
Accident data shows that when cars and bicycles travel in the opposite direction, cars are responsible for more than half of the bike accidents. It is because cars usually do not see bicyclists traveling in the opposite direction until too late.
When making a right turn in front of approaching traffic, stay alert and watch out for bicycles that may be coming at you faster than you think they are.
If you must wait until it is safe to complete your turn, wait until you can stay in your lane of traffic. This simple precaution will help keep the bicyclists traveling behind you safely.
Do Not Pass on the Right
While Illinois does allow passing another vehicle on the right side if it is done safely, this law does not apply to bicycles.
It may seem safe to pass another car or truck on the right when you are in a separate lane of traffic, but it is not safe for you, and it is not safe for the cyclist traveling behind them. If you need to pass a cyclist with oncoming traffic, wait until there is no oncoming traffic and pass them in the opposite traffic lane.
Accidents can happen, but over half could be prevented if bicyclists and drivers followed the road rules.
So before you take to your car or bike to travel on our Illinois roads today, remember:
- Right turns for cars only at intersections and stop signs
- Drive slower than the posted speed limit when you are in residential neighborhoods or construction zones
- Do not text while driving for your safety and the safety of others on our roadways
Following traffic rules can save lives, especially unsuspecting cyclists commuting to work or riding for enjoyment.
Right turning drivers often cause vike accidents because they fail to search for cyclists before executing a right turn. Therefore, cyclists must remain visible and aware to avoid collisions with vehicle drivers.
Chicago Bike Lane Improvements
For years, bicyclists have enjoyed the dense network of bike lanes throughout the Chicagoland area as a safer means of transportation to stay away from other vehicles, and other motorists will often feel they have the right-of-way, placing bicycle riders at risk.
In recent years, the city of Chicago has made significant improvements to the network of bike lanes crisscrossing Cook County. But, unfortunately, the number of bicycle accidents continues to rise significantly.
The increase in bike accident injuries and fatalities is likely due to motorists' lack of awareness, cyclists not following the road rules, and fewer police officers in Chicago patrol cars.
Over the last few years, the city has been addressing this issue by emphasizing enforcement for bicyclists not following traffic laws when riding their bikes.
In addition to making more tickets available to the police, more awareness is being placed on ensuring that cars indicate when they are turning right.
Motorists need to make sure they are aware of their surroundings, and if they can see a cyclist, it is safer for them to wait until the rider clears the area before making their turn.
Chicago Department of Transportation Data
According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, 1,415 reported bicycle crashes in Chicago between June 2008 and July 2009. Although these numbers represent a drop over the previous year, there is still significant room for improvement.
Most of these vehicle accidents resulted in serious injury to the bicyclist, with 165 victims transported to area hospitals with non-fatal injuries. There were three fatalities in the year-long span.
Making Changes to Prevent Bicycle Accidents
To help prevent bicycle accidents caused by right-turning vehicles, officials have implemented several initiatives to address the issue. The first proposal is to install signs reminding motorists of the law regarding this type of accident at all intersections where it applies.
Another suggestion would be for drivers to pay attention and not text behind the wheel or look down at their GPS when making these turns.
Motorists must make sure they are aware of their surroundings when driving and not become distracted by other activities in the car. Bike lanes can be improved with safety features such as safety islands along the road, signs warning cars of the increased number of bicyclists using the road, and signs encouraging motorists to yield to bicyclists.
Bicyclists need to follow all traffic laws when riding a bike and not assume a driver has seen them during their ride. Most drivers are looking for other vehicles, not riders on bikes, so cyclists need to make themselves visible.
Chicago Bicycle Program
The Chicago Bicycle Program has also suggested other ways to make the roads safer for drivers and bicyclists.
These ways include simplifying intersections, adding dedicated bike lanes, improving traffic signals at intersections with heavy bicycle use, calming traffic in areas where high volumes of cyclists are present, and working more closely with other government agencies.
The Illinois Department of Transportation data shows 4,831 bicycle crashes in Illinois between January and August 2009. Of those accidents, 165 injuries resulted from these crashes and no fatalities.
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, Chicago remains a safe place for bicyclists compared to other major metropolitan areas. In 2008, 100 million miles were traveled by bicycle in Chicago, and only 0.69 fatalities occurred for every 100 million miles ridden.
Los Angeles had a higher number of riders with 963,000 but recorded 1.19 fatalities per 100 million miles biked.
Right-Turn Bicycle Accident Avoidance
Cyclists are rarely to blame in a right-turn accident; however, they can avoid these accidents by keeping alert and visible.
Here are a few tips:
- Visibility: Wearing bright clothing, having the required reflectors, and a headlight on their bikes can help make the cyclist more visible to drivers who look before they turn.
- Keep watch: When approaching an intersection, keeping an eye on the motor vehicle beside them or ahead of them can alert the cyclists to a vehicle that will turn. Riders should look for a turn signal, brake lights, or the right front tire to begin to turn.
- Slow down: As a precaution, slow down before an intersection. It may give the cyclist a little more time to stop if a car turns in front of them.
Chicago Bicycle Accident Cases
In recent years, bicycle accidents have been on the rise in the Chicagoland area. Many of these accidents are the result of the bicyclist lane position at the time of the crash.
In addition, illegal right turns are often the cause when a distracted motorist turns in front of approaching traffic and bicycles.
Westbound Milwaukee Avenue Car Turning Accident
In 2021, a catastrophic bicycle accident occurred when a cyclist was hit by a taxi. The accident occurred at Milwaukee Avenue and Sacramento Boulevard outside Wicker Park's Division Blue Line station.
At the time of the accident, the bicyclist was riding west on Sacramento Blvd. At this signalized intersection, Milwaukee Avenue has two lanes traveling westbound with no left turn arrow. Therefore, Westbound Milwaukee Avenue traffic can only turn right, and bicyclists must proceed straight through this intersection.
The defendant in the case was a taxi driver who ran a red light and T-boned the cyclist at full speed, throwing him from his bicycle. As a result, the cyclist suffered multiple injuries, which included spinal cord damage.
Bicycle Accident Occurs at Same Intersection
In 2020, another accident involving a right-turning vehicle and a bicyclist occurred in Chicago on Milwaukee Avenue.
In this accident, a cyclist hit a truck making a right turn into a local business. Once again, the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Sacramento had been yet another bicycle accident scene.
The lawsuits were filed in the circuit court in both cases, where both sides reached an undisclosed settlement.
Eyewitness Accounts Identify Turning Car Failure to Avoid Hitting Bicyclist
In 2019, a bicyclist was killed at a stop sign when a vehicle driver turned right illegally. The bicyclist was killed after colliding with the turning vehicle traveling 40 mph. Witnesses stated that the bicycle did have working headlights, brakes, and brake lights before the crash occurred.
These few bike accident cases show how often a motor vehicle makes a right turn in front of a bicyclist for numerous reasons including, avoiding crashing into a stopped vehicle for illegally switching lanes.
Get Help From a Law Firm Experienced Advocating for Victims of a Right Turn Bicycle Accident
In most cases of a right-turn bicycle accident, the driver of the vehicle will be at fault and liable for damages to the injured cyclists.
However, many times, adriver may take off and not stop, especially if the bicyclist hits the rear of their vehicle as they make the turn. Even though the cyclist hit the vehicle, the driver should still stop. When they leave the scene, it is considered a hit-and-run accident.
Cyclists should know that if they cannot find the offending driver, they may still receive compensation for their injuries through their uninsured motorist policy.
A personal injury attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC will stand with you following an Illinois bicycle accident. Call our office 24-hours a day and (888) 424-5757 or provide your contact information in the contact form to receive a free consultation with an attorney who is truly committed to your case on a contingency fee basis.
Our personal injury law firm currently represents clients in the following localities throughout Illinois: Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Kane County, Peoria County, Sangamon County, Will County, Winnebago County, and others.