Bicyclists who share the road with cars and other vehicles undergo risk every time they pedal out into the street. They are much less protected than motorists and therefore more prone to serious injury in the event of an accident. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have to right to travel safely. Maryland law says that drivers must treat bicycles like any other vehicle on the road, and leave at least 3 feet of space between a vehicle and a bike. Drivers should also reduce their speed when passing bicycles.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen. And when they do, motorists are expected to take the same actions as they would in a crash with another car: They should pull over safely and check in with the other person involved, making sure to render aid or call for help if necessary.
That didn’t happen in a bicycle accident last summer in Glen Burnie, Maryland. A bicyclist was traveling on a city street when he was hit by a car from behind. Police said that rather than stop and check on the bike rider, who was seriously injured, the driver fled the scene. Witnesses gave officers a description of the driver and his car, which police found four days later in a store parking lot. They towed the car, got a warrant to search it, and found a ball cap and wire-rimmed glasses matching witness descriptions of the driver. Police also took DNA from the exterior of the car, which they learned in December matched the DNA of the bicycle rider. The driver was arrested this week and charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing serious injury, not returning to the scene of an accident and other charges.
The bicycle rider could elect to hold the driver responsible for his injuries by filing a personal injury lawsuit against him, which may have caused the driver to leave the scene. But doing so didn’t help the driver’s case. If he’s found guilty of the charges against him, it could strengthen the bike rider’s case.
Bicycle riders have the same right to safety as motorists. Drivers who disregard bicyclists by following too closely, driving too fast or failing to stop and help after injuring them could be held liable in an accident such as this one.
Source: Officer.com, “Md. Police Use DNA To Link Driver With Hit-And-Run,” E.B. Furgurson III, Jan. 25, 2012