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New Mexico motorists must help reduce bicycle accident cases

Incidents involving bicyclists are not rare in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Local bicyclists regularly complain of motorists driving too close, heedlessly and often unexpectedly turning or changing direction so without even a honk. Such behaviors by motorists driving various types of vehicles pose a consistent threat and are a source of fear and discouragement for bicyclists.

Sometimes, bicyclists also make the mistake of rolling through stop signs, riding fast on country roads or swerving to avoid glass, gravel or potholes on the road or turning without signaling first. However, such mistakes are hardly comparable to the heedless driving of motorists ignoring bicyclists on the road. The potential for damage that a reckless automobile can inflict on a bicycle rider is tremendous. One moment of inattention on the part of a car driver can cost a bicyclist his or her life.

In the United States, more than 90,000 pedestrian and more than 13,000 bicycle accident fatalities involving heavier motor vehicles have occurred in the last two decades. Motor vehicle collisions with bicycles have injured another 50,000 bicyclists in the same period of time.

Research conducted in the last decade concludes that a bicyclist is 12 times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle collision in the United States than any other vehicle driver. Similarly, a pedestrian is 23 times more prone to be killed on a U.S. roadway.

Also not all U.S. roads are well-equipped to help bicyclists avoid accidents. Many roads do not have bike lanes so bike riders and motorists must pay attention and be more mindful that they are sharing the road. Those involved in a bicycle crash should understand that they might have legal recourses against the driver that collided with them. Further investigation should reveal cause and assign liability. This could provide the injured party with the opportunity to file a personal injury claim.

Source: Albuquerque Journal, A cyclist's plea to drivers: Slow down, give us space, Jonathan Thompson, Oct. 3, 2014

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