Posted on June 29, 2015 in Personal Injury
New Jersey is a great place to ride a bike. Depending upon where you choose to go, you can enjoy a smooth ride along flat plains, challenge yourself on an adventurous mountain trail, or take in the fresh salt air as you bicycle along the boardwalk next to the Atlantic Ocean. That’s the good news. The bad news is that New Jersey ranks second in the nation for fatal bicycle accidents. In fact, in just two years from 2012 to 2014, the percentage of fatal bicycle injuries caused by car accidents increased from 28.9%to 32.4%.
New Jersey is one of 17 states across the nation, and the only state in the northeast corridor, that does not have bicycle safety laws or bicycle paths along their roadways. Thirty-three U.S. states have laws that require motorists to allow a distance of three to four feet between their vehicle and a bicycle when they are passing. Many provide a designated bike path along heavily trafficked roads and strictly enforce the safety buffer laws. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America, yet offers no protection for those who choose to travel on two wheels.
There are two bills currently stalled in New Jersey that would make laws requiring drivers to allow for a four foot buffer between a vehicle and a bicycle, wheelchair, road worker and pedestrian; or face a fine of $500. These bills were passed in the state Assembly, but have stalled in the Senate Transportation Committee that claims that the bill is not workable in New Jersey.
New Jersey Democratic Senator Nicholas J. Sacco, chairman of the Transportation Committee, claims that narrow roadways in parts of New Jersey would force vehicles to cross into oncoming traffic if they provided a four foot buffer for bicycles. The Senator does not oppose bicycle paths where appropriate, but says a statewide law would not be effective. He believes that New Jersey’s reckless and careless driving laws already cover bicyclists.
Another law that New Jersey does not have that may make bicycle riding safer is a helmet law. Only riders under 17 years of age in the Garden State are required to wear helmets. As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 84% of bicyclists killed in New Jersey between 2010 and 2013 were not wearing helmets or other protective gear. While laws to protect cyclists on the roadways can help reduce the number of New Jersey bicycle accident fatalities, there are steps that cyclists can take to avoid serious injury or death.
The NHTSA has posted bicycle safety information on their website to encourage bicycle riders to protect themselves. First and foremost, helmets are the number one piece of safety equipment that guards against traumatic brain injuries and skull fractures. These injuries are two of the most common and severe consequences of a bicycle accident. The site offers recommendations on the safest types of helmets, how to properly fit a helmet, and how to maintain and inspect the helmet to ensure it works effectively.
The NHTSA also suggests that riders wear bright colors and use reflective tape on their equipment as well as their clothing to be more visible to drivers. Many sporting goods stores offer a multitude of products that can make your ride a safe one. Flashing lights that adhere to the front handlebars or on the back of the bicycle seat, horns, portable tire inflators and on-board storage systems can mean the difference between an enjoyable ride and a catastrophic accident.
Common sense suggestions noted on the NHTSA site remind cyclists to ensure that they are visible to drivers and be predictable and consistent in riding patterns. Sudden lane changes, wide turns, and not using hand signals before changing position leave drivers with little time to stop suddenly. Cyclists are reminded to follow the same rules of the road as they do when driving a car. A bicycle is considered a motor vehicle and is therefore obligated to follow the laws. Choosing to ride with traffic instead of against traffic and riding in the far right lane are also recommended.
NEW JERSEY BICYCLE ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT EICHEN CRUTCHLOW ZASLOW & MCELROY CLAIM COMPENSATION FOR INJURED BICYCLISTS
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a bicycle accident in New Jersey, the experienced and highly-skilled New Jersey bicycle accident lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy can help you claim the compensation you may be entitled to receive. Call our New Jersey personal injury lawyers at 732-777-0100 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River, New Jersey allowing us to serve clients throughout the state.
New Jersey is a great place to ride a bike. Depending upon where you choose to go, you can enjoy a smooth ride along flat plains, challenge yourself on an adventurous mountain trail, or take in the fresh salt air as you bicycle along the boardwalk next to the Atlantic Ocean.