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Sideswipe Bicycle Accidents in Fresno

Riding your bicycle in Fresno should be an enjoyable experience, and it often is. However, the looming risk of bicycle accidents is always present, no matter how safe and careful you are. Not only can accidents happen at any time, they often lead to serious injuries. One common type of bicycle accident is a sideswipe accident, where a car moves up beside you and collides with the side of your bicycle. Even at low speeds, sideswipe accidents can have devastating effects on bicyclists.

Free Consultations For Sideswipe Accident Victims in Fresno

One of the first steps you can take to get the support you need for your injuries is to contact our team of experienced Fresno sideswipe bicycle accident lawyers at Maison Law. We have a wealth of resources at our disposal to pursue a claim on your behalf and offer free initial consultations for any victim of these unfortunate accidents.

To get started, contact us today.

Does California Law Protect Against Sideswipe Accidents?

A sideswipe accident occurs when a driver attempts to pass or move by another car or bicyclist moving in the same direction, but then collides with the side of the other vehicle. With so many drivers and bicycles on the road in Fresno, sideswipes are among the most common types of accidents that you will come across. While they can occur anywhere on the road, they most commonly occur on freeways, crowded city streets, or intersections.

California law doesn’t have a particular law relating directly to sideswipe accidents, but because they are so common, there is a law in place that protects against the conditions that often cause a sideswipe accident. Codified in Section 21760 of the California Vehicle Code, this law is known as the “3 Feet for Safety Act” and maintains that:

  • A driver that is passing a bicyclist must give at least 3 feet of clearance between any part of the vehicle and any part of the bicycle or the person riding it.
  • When there isn’t 3 feet of clearance available due to road conditions or traffic, the driver must slow down and pass only when it’s safe to do so.

The law is enforced the same way speed limits are, and applies in instances where a driver is:

  • Passing a bicycle from behind
  • In the same lane and the same direction of travel.
  • Passing a bicycle traveling in an adjacent bicycle lane.

Furthermore, punishments for violations of this law include:

  • $35 fine in cases that don’t result in injury
  • $233 fine for the driver, once court and administrative fees are added.
  • $220 fine for a violation that involves a collision that injures a bicyclist.
  • $959 fine for the driver, after court and administrative fees are added on.

Even with laws in place to protect bicyclists, sideswipe accidents still happen. Knowing the causes of sideswipe accidents and where they occur most frequently may help you avoid situations where you could fall victim to them.

How Common Are Sideswipe Accidents in Fresno?

Over the last five years, data from California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) found that there were the following number car accidents in Fresno:

  • 92 car accidents that caused injuries or fatalities in 2017.
  • 60 car accidents that caused injuries or fatalities in 2018.
  • 85 car accidents that caused injuries or fatalities in 2019.
  • 166 car accidents that caused injuries or fatalities in 2020.
  • 171 car accidents that caused injuries or fatalities in 2021.

Further, per the SWITRS’ 2019 report, 295 of fatal car accidents in California were sideswipe accidents.

Obviously, these statistics demonstrate the danger of a sideswipe accident. However, this danger is increased when the sideswipe accident involves a bicycle.

How Do Sideswipe Accidents Happen in Fresno?

Like most other car accidents, sideswipe accidents frequently occur because the driver of the car was distracted, failed to check their blind spot, or was driving under the influence. Moreover, because a bicycle is frequently in a driver’s blind spot, sideswipe bicycle accidents are even more common.

Other common causes of sideswipe accidents include:

  • Failing to check blind spots before changing lanes.
  • Drifting into other lanes while distracted by a phone, radio, or passengers.
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Weaving in and out of lanes.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Failing to signal a lane change.
  • Merging without checking the other lane carefully.
  • Hydroplaning on wet roads.

No matter what the cause of your sideswipe accident is, you are likely to have suffered any number of injuries. With such risk of injury in these accidents, you should take every precaution you can to make sure that other drivers see you.

Are Sideswipe Bicycle Accidents Preventable in Fresno?

Like any car accident, there is no way to totally prevent sideswipe accidents, no matter how careful you are or the steps you take to reduce their risk. At the same time, increasing your visibility and drawing attention to your movement while on a bicycle are just two ways that you can avoid a sideswipe accident.

While you can’t account for safe and legal driving on the part of other drivers you share the road with, you can still take the following steps to avoid sideswipe accidents:

  • Increase your visibility – High-visibility, fluorescent clothing and other equipment is probably the most efficient way to improve your visibility to drivers in adjacent lanes. These products are designed to maximize your visibility even during the daytime and can be extremely effective in helping other drivers spot you. Along with proper safety equipment, high-visibility clothing should always be worn when you ride your bike in Fresno.
  • Use lights or turn signals – Having signal lights installed on your bike is another way to increase their visibility and awareness for other drivers. These lights and indicators act the same way as they do in a normal car, and let other drivers know what your intentions are. Many bicycle manufacturers even make special lights designed with a specific focus, flash, or to increase your range of vision in low-visibility conditions. Thus, these lights can be effective when riding your bike day or night.
  • Draw attention to your movement – Simply drawing attention to your movement itself is another way to increase your visibility to other drivers. While you should always stay in the designated bike lane, this isn’t always possible if you need to swerve to miss an object or brake suddenly. Drawing attention to your movement can increase your awareness with other drivers and it will remind them to give you space.

  • Obey traffic laws – Probably the simplest way to avoid sideswipe accidents, at least on your part, is to obey traffic laws. California’s traffic laws are in place for a reason, being designed to create a predictable traffic pattern that will help other drivers know where you are heading. Further, by not weaving in and out of traffic, swerving, or riding between lanes, you can decrease the chances that you will be in a sideswipe accident.

Taking these steps is certainly advisable, even if they won’t totally prevent a sideswipe accident. When you’re riding your bike in Fresno, you’ll need to take every precaution you can to make sure you don’t find yourself injured in a sideswipe accident.

Experienced Sideswipe Bicycle Accident Lawyers In Fresno

A sideswipe bicycle accident can certainly have a huge impact on you or your family, no matter what steps you take to reduce their probability. At Maison Law, we pride ourselves on the support and validation we provide to each and every client. If you’ve been in a sideswipe bicycle accident in Fresno, we can make what can be a difficult situation a little easier for you and your family.

To learn more about how our firm can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.

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