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Kotak Personal Injury Law
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How can we minimize motorist-cyclist Accidents and Injuries
A cyclist was killed in Caledon after colliding with a car, in the early hours of September 8, 2015. Accidents involving motorists and cyclists are unfortunately a fairly common occurrence in Ontario. A 2006 report by Transport Canada, determined that approximately 7,500 cyclists are injured every year due to collisions with vehicles. Musculoskeletal (i.e. muscles, tendons, joints, etc.) and soft tissue injuries (such as abrasions and lacerations) are the most common injuries for cyclists. However, head and brain injury occur in a significant number of motorist-cyclist accidents (estimates vary from 22 to 47 per cent), and these are responsible for the majority of long-term disabilities or deaths for cyclists.
Contrary to the claim by some motorists that most of these accidents are caused by cyclists’ negligence, an analysis of 2,572 Toronto police reports by the Share The Road Coalition proved this to be untrue. The majority of motorist-cyclist accidents resulted from driver error at an intersection, particularly when motorists fail to come to a complete stop at a red light or when they begin driving before checking that it is safe to do so. Cyclists are also often injured at intersections when drivers turn right just as a cyclist is coming up to the intersection.
Motorists and cyclists alike have an obligation to be careful and exercise smart and responsible behavior while on the road. Ontario’s recent Bill 31, the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, addresses this very issue and has established new rules for both motorists and cyclists.
Motorists are now obliged to keep a one-metre distance between their vehicle and cyclists, whenever it is possible to do so. Failure leave a safe distance carries a $110 fine and 2 demerit points. Drivers will also be fined $365 and receive three demerit points for “dooring”, which means opening the door of a parked vehicle into the path of a cyclist or oncoming traffic.
Studies have shown that about one third of motorist-cyclist collisions occur during nighttime conditions. To reduce this number, cyclists are required to have proper lights, reflective materials and reflectors on their bicycles, at dusk, nighttime and dawn. It is hoped that this requirement will make cyclists more visible to vehicles and consequently, safer when riding late in the evening or during the early hours. Failure by cyclists to adhere to this law now carries a $110 fine, a significant increase from the previous $20 fine.
While the new laws in Bill 31 are significant and positive steps to helping reduce collisions between motorists and cyclists, there is still more that both can do to ensure the safety of all involved. The following are additional safety steps motorists can take to avoid collisions with cyclists, according to the Canadian Automobile Association.
- Be visible to other road users (why proper lights and reflective materials are so important).
- Always wear a helmet and safety wear.
- Make your intentions clear well in advance to other road users.
- Avoid cycling with headphones on, as they interfere with your ability to hear oncoming vehicles and even a car door being opened on the road ahead.
- Be on the lookout for any vehicles that are about to turn right or left at upcoming intersections.
- Be prepared to slow down or stop if a vehicle comes into your lane quickly or unexpectedly.
- Be on the lookout for individuals in parked vehicles who may open their car door.
- Drive predictably; do not weave in and out of traffic haphazardly.
- Try to stick to bike routes and bike paths as much as possible.
Cycling is a very enjoyable and healthy experience for many Canadians. However one wrong turn or wrong step and it can turn into a tragedy. Incidents of collisions between motorists and cyclists are far too common, and inevitably it is the cyclist who experiences the most severe injuries. There are many proactive driving practices that both cyclists and drivers can adopt to realize greater safety for cyclists, and also, to reduce the likelihood that the negligence of either the driver or cyclist will result in catastrophic injuries.
At Kotak Law, we have helped many accident victims through the physically and emotionally stressful time that follows a serious collision. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a motorist-cyclist collision or any other type of motor vehicle accident, then a personal injury attorney has the necessary expertise to evaluate your claim and give you a realistic idea of what you can expect if you decide to make a claim for damages. At Kotak, our experienced personal injury staff work fervently to ensure that our clients receive the settlement and benefits they deserve and are owed. You will find that we are good listeners and can advise you on a strategy that best suits your individual circumstances. Contact our Kotak Law office today for a no-obligation consultation.