Authorities say it happened on a Saturday afternoon, shortly before 3 p.m., while three men and one woman were bicycling on Massengill Pond Road. A driver in his early 50s approached the cyclists from the rear and struck all four, ejecting them from their bicycles. Each suffered serious injuries.
Today, on this first day of spring, it’s necessary to point out to drivers that there will be an increasing number of bicyclists taking to the roads throughout the state. North Carolina is the 10th most dangerous state for cyclists in the country. There were 22 cyclists killed on North Carolina roads in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The safety rating handed down by Insurance Business America, using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, indicated there were 2.59 bicycle deaths per million people in the state. Other states in the top 10 included Florida, Louisiana, Oregon, Arizona, South Carolina (which had a rating of 3.21 per million), New Hampshire, California, New York and Alaska.
That report drove home the point that bicyclists need insurance, just like any other motorist. It is not required by state law, but it’s a smart idea for a number of reasons. Although bicyclists are far less likely to cause injury to others in a crash, they run a higher risk of serious injury if they are struck by a vehicle.
Ideally, the at-fault driver and their insurer would cover damages for those injuries, but that can’t always be counted on. In cases where an at-fault driver takes off, lacks insurance or has minimal insurance, bicyclists can recover damages through their own uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/ UIM) coverage. Bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles are treated like any other crash under such policies.
Local cyclists in Asheville told The Citizen Times the city is fairly accommodating to cyclists, but they still try to avoid the main arteries. They also avoid taking trips in bigger cities like Charlotte or Raleigh, where cyclists are in an even more precarious position.
Nationally, 743 cyclists were killed in car accidents in 2013.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) recently launched a campaign called, “Watch For Me NC” that promotes safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in the state.
NDOT reports every year in this state, 2,400 pedestrians and 960 bicyclists are struck by vehicles. The average 160 pedestrian deaths and 20 bicycle deaths each year account for roughly 12 percent of all fatalities in the state. When cyclists are hit at speeds of 40 mph or more, they have an 85 percent chance of losing their lives.
In the most recent case, the cyclists – ages 34, 57, 57 and 60 – are expected to survive, though their injuries are characterized as serious. They were reportedly riding in a single-file line on the right side of the road when they were struck.
The driver’s daughter later told a local news affiliate her mother did not see the cyclists until it was too late. Driver was reportedly coming up over the hill while a car was passing the other direction and “she panicked,” not knowing whether to hit the other car or try to miss the cyclists. She described her mother as extremely distraught over the incident.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
4 bicyclists in serious condition after being hit by car in Johnston County, Feb. 22, 2016, WNCT 9
More Blog Entries:
Gores v. Miller – Liability Release in Crash Settlement, Feb. 28, 2016, Asheville Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog