Bicycle safety has been in the news in California a lot lately, as injuries and fatalities for cyclists continue to occur even when cyclists are being safe and obeying traffic laws. A recent fatal bike accident case made the news after witnesses say they saw the driver of the vehicle get out of his car with his cellphone in hand, indicating that he may have been distracted at the time that he crashed into a cyclist who was riding with a group of friends along Highway 1.
There have also been fatal cycling accidents here in Orange County. Late last year a woman was killed while riding in the bike lane, wearing a helmet, obeying traffic laws, when she was hit by a van that was making a left turn.
A recent op-ed in the New York Times looked the consequences for these accidents for the drivers who are involved in them and concluded that there is a lack of enforcement when drivers of cars hit and kill cyclists, with very few of them being arrested or charged with a crime, even if they were distracted or potentially violating traffic laws at the time that they hit the cyclist.
Advocates for cyclists are working to change this situation, pushing for better investigations and more accountability when a motor vehicle driver strikes someone who is riding a bike. Thankfully, some progress has been made on this front. Recently the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed a new law that increases penalties for drivers who hit a cyclist while violating traffic laws.
Source: SantaCruz.com, “The Failure of ‘Share the Road’,” Georgia Perry, Jan. 7, 2014