Maryland Bicycle Accidents: Statistics, Laws, Safety Tips

As citizens become more health-conscious and environmentally conscious, there has been an increase in people who use bicycles as their primary form of transportation. Some urban and metro areas are slowly adapting to this shift, but there are still many situations in which bicyclists remain exposed to the possibility of accidents with motor vehicles and other cyclists. Because bicycles are considered vehicles by the state of Maryland, though, cyclists must follow pertinent laws and regulations at all times.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

Nationally, around two percent of vehicle traffic fatalities involve bicyclists. Maryland averages just over 800 bicycle accidents per year, with about one bicycle fatality every month. Serious bicycle accidents during the warmer months, so the majority of collisions occur during the summer. In 2017, more than one in five cyclists killed due to a vehicle collision had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 (the legal limit for vehicle operators) or higher.

Maryland Bicycle Laws

Again, bicycles are considered vehicles, so many of the same laws and regulations that apply to motor vehicle operators also apply to bicyclists. When passing cyclists on the roadway, automobiles must give three feet of space between vehicles. Relative to cars, bicycles have the right of way when using crosswalks and when making turns on the roadway. If a bike lane is available and safe to ride on, bicyclists must use it. Bicyclists are generally forbidden from riding on sidewalks in Maryland unless municipal ordinances allow it. 

Maryland is one of a handful of states that employs the doctrine of contributory negligence when deciding damages stemming from vehicular accidents. Therefore, if a driver or bicyclist is even one percent responsible for a collision that caused injuries, he or she will have a difficult time collecting a payout from insurance companies. Not following bicycle rules can be evidence of negligence for cyclists. 

Safety Tips for Cyclists

The most important precaution cyclists can take is wearing a helmet. In any collision, the head is of utmost importance. Use the bicycle lane or shoulder whenever possible, and ride with the flow of traffic, not against. Try to avoid busy streets. For both cyclists and drivers, be aware of all other vehicles on the road and practice defensive driving. Car drivers have an obligation to watch out for bicyclists, but if all parties exercise caution, a collision is much less likely to result in catastrophic injuries or death. 

Conclusion

Although bicycles are generally subject to the same rules of the road for motor vehicles, there are exceptions in certain situations that affect possible insurance payouts for either party. If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a collision involving a bicycle, reach out to Jack Sturgill now and let him navigate the complexities of your case so you can concentrate on recovering from your injuries.

Written by Law Office of Jack R. Sturgill

Jack R. Sturgill, the Owner and CEO of Jack’s Law, has practiced civil litigation for over 40 years. As an experienced litigator and real estate, estate planning, and estate administration law attorney in Maryland, he focuses his practice on legal matters pertaining to real estate, land use, eminent domain and condemnation, business and corporate law, estate planning, estate administration, personal injury, and administrative law.