Bicycling is gaining popularity, but it is imperative to learn the rules for operating bicycles on public roadways throughout Utah to keep yourself safe from motorists. During 2012, it was reported that Utah had its highest bicyclist crash rate in a decade with 3.2 accidents per 10,000 people. About half of those in crashes were younger than 25 years old. During that year alone, the costs to treat bicyclists for their injuries resulted in hospitalization charges that exceeded $2 million.
Even the most cautious bicyclist could still be hit by a motorist. One of the best ways to prevent crashes is to follow your local bicycle laws.
The Importance of Wearing Helmets
While helmets are recommended because they are the most effective way to reduce head injuries, Utah is one of five states that have no bicycle helmet law. It is recommended that you wear a helmet when bicycling anyway. Helmets have been proven to reduce the risks of severe brain injuries by as much as 88%.
Bicycling Laws in Utah
There are several laws that pertain to bicycling in the state of Utah. Understanding these laws will lower your chances of being involved in a crash!
- Don’t haul more people than the bike was equipped to transport. As an adult, however, you can carry a child securely attached to you in a sling or backpack.
- This may seem like common sense, but never attach your bike or yourself to moving vehicles on the highway.
- Don’t carry a package or any article that keeps you from using both hands to maintain control of your bike. You must have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times (so long as it’s safe to do so).
- You are required to have a white headlight, either red taillight or reflector, and side reflectors, all of which are visible for at least 500 feet. This are required any time you ride earlier than a half hour before sunrise, half hour after sunset, or when it is difficult to make out vehicles 1,000 feet away. Most crashes occur at dawn or dusk, so reflectors and headlights will help motorists see you!
- Your bike has to have brakes that are capable of stopping you within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on pavement that is dry, level, and clean.
- Always signal your intention to turn right or left, change lanes, or stop at least three seconds before you do so. You don’t have to maintain a continuous signal if you need that hand to control the bike. Once stopped in a designated turn lane, you don’t have to signal again before turning.
- You should ride alongside no more than one other bicyclist in a single lane.
- Ride as far to the right as you practically can except when you are passing another vehicle or bike, preparing to make a left turn, going straight through an intersection past a right-turn only lane, or avoiding unsafe conditions on the right edge of the roadway. Contrary to some motorists’ beliefs, you can be in other lanes if the bicycle lane isn’t safe.
If you stay familiar with bicycle safety laws and adhere to them, you can significantly decrease your chances of being in an accident. Make yourself and your bike visible by wearing bright colors and having reflectors located around the bike or on your clothing.
But What if You’re in a Bicycle Crash?
Even if you follow every bicycle law practice bicycle safety, the reality is that a motorist could still hit you. In the event you are in a bicycle crash, you should:
- Get the information of all drivers involved. This includes his or her name, address, license plate number, and auto insurance policy number.
- Give the officer your account of the accident. This is very important, as police officers are apt to only take the statement of the driver!
- Take photographs of the damage—to yourself, to your bike, and to your equipment. You should not repair your bicycle until you have submitted this evidence to the motorists’ insurance company through a demand letter to receive compensation.
- Seek medical treatment, even if you don’t initially believe you are injured! Your first stop after speaking to the police needs to be a hospital.
Even the safest riders can be involved in a crash, so make sure you stay alert and you are prepared to practice defensive driving, especially in intersections. Pretend you’re invisible and assume that every motorist can’t see you and can potentially hit you. With the right precautions, you will hopefully never have to face a crash!
*This article was provided by Personal Injury Help and was not written by an attorney, and the accuracy of the content is not warranted or guaranteed. If you wish to receive legal advice about a specific problem, you should contact a licensed attorney in Utah.
Article courtesy of Deanna Power of Personal Injury Help (http://www.personalinjury-law.com/). If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org