Biking around Virginia is a pleasant activity. The state has thousands of miles of scenic roads, and bike riders take advantage of this. Unfortunately, a fun bike ride isn’t always safe. Bike fatalities in Virginia are increasing day by day it’s important to drive safely.
Bike Safety in Virginia
As of the end of June 2023, there were already nine bike-related fatalities in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. At this pace, the number of bike-related fatalities in Virginia this year will nearly double compared to 2022. What is causing all of these bike-related fatalities in Virginia?
End of Most Pandemic Shutdown Effects
Most businesses shut down, at least partially, in early 2020 due to the pandemic. This meant that millions of people mostly stayed off the roads. At the same time, bike riding increased in popularity.
For approximately one year, even though more people were riding bikes than before the pandemic, bike-related fatalities in Virginia were down. This started to change in 2021, though.
As the shutdowns ended, drivers returned to the roads. And as a result, bike-related fatalities in Virginia doubled after only a year. Fatalities have continued to increase since then, with 2023 looking to be one of the most dangerous years on record.
Pandemic effects alone don’t explain this remarkable increase in bike-related accidents. Virginia DMV data also suggests that drivers are being more careless. Speed-related accidents increased this year compared to previous years.
This is particularly meaningful for bike riders because speeding is one of the top causes of bike and pedestrian fatalities.
What the State Is Doing to Prevent Bike-Related Fatalities
The Virginia legislature has a mixed record concerning bike safety. It passed a law in 2021 that protects bicyclists from drivers. But since then, it has taken money away from the budget that would have improved safety. This inconsistent approach to bicycle safety means that bike riders need to be cautious when riding on Virginia roads.
Since you can’t rely on the law to keep you safe, you need to take matters into your own hands. These are steps you can take to protect yourself while riding.
Wear a Helmet
Even though state law doesn’t require it, you should wear a helmet any time you ride a bike. VA DMV data show that riders who don’t wear a helmet are more than twice as likely to die than those who do in an accident. Know about Virginia helmet law and safe driving.
Use Bike Lanes and Trails Where Possible
There are dozens of miles of protected bike lanes and trails in Virginia, particularly in northern Virginia. Whenever you have the option to use a lane or trail, you should. Nearly all accidents occur on roads that don’t have protected bicycle lanes.
Pay Attention to the Speed of Cars
It is harder to avoid an accident when you are driving quickly. That is true whether you are driving a car or a bicycle. As a bicyclist, this means you should avoid roads that have higher speed limits.
However, you can’t always trust that people are following the speed limit. Even on roads with lower speed limits, you should watch how fast others are driving. If people are regularly speeding, you should take an alternate route.
Follow All Traffic Laws
While some Virginia traffic laws make bike riding more dangerous, you should still follow them whenever possible. You will be at least partially liable for an accident if you violate a traffic law, which means you might not be able to get money afterward.
What to Do After a Bike Accident
Hopefully, you’ll never get hurt in a bike accident. But if you do, contact The Joel Bieber Firm right away.
Victims of bike-related accidents face many obstacles when trying to get compensation after an accident. Our experienced attorneys will help you overcome those obstacles and attempt to negotiate a fair settlement.
We can also help if a loved one dies in a bike accident. Our auto accident lawyers will let you know if you are eligible to make a wrongful death claim and how much money you could receive in a settlement.
Bike Accident Claim Complications
Unfortunately, bike accident claims are often complicated. Insurance companies are usually the biggest complicating factor.
The automobile insurance company for the driver wants to spend as little money as possible. It will usually try to pin the blame on you for the accident. In Virginia, if it can prove that you were even slightly at fault, it won’t have to pay you money.
You can increase your chances of beating this tactic by hiring our law firm. Insurance companies know that if you hire a Personal Injury Lawyer, you are willing to go to court. And most insurance companies will settle rather than risk a jury verdict.
Hit and Run Accidents
Unfortunately, many drivers leave the scene of an accident after hitting a bike. This makes it difficult for you to get money because you don’t know who to sue. When this happens, we try to find a video of the accident or witnesses who can help us identify the driver.
Virginia laws aren’t always consistent. For example, while being passed by a car, Virginia law allows bicyclists to ride two abreast and requires them to ride single file. Insurance companies can use these inconsistencies to prevent you from getting compensation after an accident.
Typically, when laws are inconsistent, it means that neither side can be certain how a judge will interpret the law. Our lawyers use this to convince insurance companies to settle rather than risk a bad ruling.
Contact The Joel Bieber Firm Today
The death of a loved one in a bike accident is a devastating loss. If you are facing this loss, contact an attorney from our law firm today to learn about your legal options during a free consultation.