Just 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 bicyclinginfo.org 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."
If you or a loved one have been injured by a hit and run driver or in any type of bicycle accident, please contact me personally at The Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle, for a free evaluation. I will guide you through the medical and legal issues and fight for your legal rights.