What We All Need To Know About Safely Sharing The Road
When out on the road, we all want to be as safe as possible. Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of people choosing to add exercise to their commute by bicycling or walking instead of driving. And while there are many benefits that can be found by choosing to ride a bike or walk during a commute including physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and financial, there are also many risks that are involved with being on the road (in any way) in general.
What Are The Risks?
Why is knowledge about the proper way for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to share the road so important? For drivers the answer is simple – doing everything you can to limit your own personal liability and avoid causing serious harm to a bicyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian. In the U.S., pedestrian deaths have increased to nearly 6,000 per year in both 2016 and 2017, an increase of almost 10% from 2015. There were also nearly 5,000 motorcyclist deaths in 2015, an increase of 8% from the year before. There were also nearly 1,000 bicyclists killed in 2015, an increase of 12% from the previous year.
So, what do we all need to do to make sure that drivers, bicyclists/motorcyclists, and pedestrians are all sharing the road safely? When it comes to sharing the road, it is important to remember that none of us exclusively hold the rights to the road, and that we all need to do our part to make sharing the road as safe as possible for everyone. Here are some tips to help us all share the road and get everyone to their destination safely.
The most important thing for a driver to remember is to lookout for pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles, and to drive responsibly around them. A vehicle becomes an extremely large and dangerous weapon when not used properly. Just because a driver has the advantage of being protected by a vehicle, does not mean they should be a bully when on the road.
As a driver make sure you take the extra second to double check your blind spots, or to look twice before turning or switching lanes, as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists can be difficult to spot and can fall into a blind spot easily. Slow down when you near a crosswalk and pay extra attention for small children in areas like school zones, residential neighborhoods, and parks. You should also make sure that there is a reasonable amount of distance between you and the pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist. Following too closely could mean that you are not left with enough time to stop your vehicle if the pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist suddenly stops or changes direction. And as always, the largest thing you can do to increase the safety of everyone on the road is to make sure you are not distracted while driving – if you are distracted by your phone, radio, food, or even another passenger, you may not even realize there is a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist near you until it is too late.
Being a responsible driver is important because it will decrease the number of injuries and deaths that occur to pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists overall, but it will also protect you, the driver, from any potential liability or responsibility for injuries or death.