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Bicycle AccidentSideswipe Bicycle Accidents: The Dangers for Riders

June 16, 20240

Riding a bicycle on public roads carries inherent risks, even for experienced cyclists. One of the most common and dangerous types of bicycle crashes is the sideswipe accident. This occurs when a passing vehicle clips or sideswipes a bicyclist while attempting to overtake them on the road. Sideswipe crashes can lead to catastrophic injuries and even death for vulnerable cyclists. This article will examine the causes and hazards of sideswipe bicycle collisions to help riders stay safe.

What is a Sideswipe Bicycle Accident?

A sideswipe bicycle crash occurs when a passing motorist strikes the bicyclist while attempting to drive by. This often happens when the vehicle driver misjudges the space needed to safely pass or neglects to move over far enough. Sideswipe collisions typically involve the car’s front corner, side mirror, or rear corner glancing against the bicyclist’s arm, shoulder, or lower body. The impacts can knock cyclists off balance, cause them to fall, or suck them under the vehicle’s tires.

Common Causes of Sideswipe Crashes

There are several common errors made by passing motorists that frequently lead to sideswipe bicycle accidents:

  • Failing to spot the bicyclist – Drivers may not notice the cyclist soon enough to react. This risk increases at night or in bad weather when visibility is reduced.
  • Misjudging passing distance – Motorists may try squeezing by without allowing enough clearance between their vehicle and the bicycle. Most states require 3 feet or more of passing distance.
  • Distracted driving – Texting, eating, or other distractions take the driver’s eyes and attention off the road ahead. This impairs their ability to pass cyclists safely.
  • Speeding – Excessive speed gives motorists insufficient time and space to react to bicyclists and pass safely. High speeds also increase collision forces in a crash.
  • Impaired driving – Intoxicated drivers have slowed reaction times and impaired judgment needed to pass cyclists with proper care.

Hazards to Cyclists in Sideswipe Crashes

The dangers posed to bicyclists in sideswipe accidents largely stem from the severe imbalance in size and speed between bikes and cars. When struck by a passing vehicle, cyclists can suffer:

  • Losing control and falling – The sudden blow of a sideswipe often knocks riders off balance, causing falls. This can produce severe injuries from impacting the ground or being run over if the fall places cyclists under the vehicle’s path.
  • Striking the vehicle – Bicyclists thrown sideways may strike the passing car’s body, windshield, or mirrors. This can inflict blunt trauma and lacerations.
  • Getting trapped under the vehicle – Sideswipe crashes may sweep cyclists under the car, trapping them against hot exhaust pipes, axles, and other components. This causes severe or fatal injuries.
  • Colliding with stationary objects – An impact may propel riders off the roadway and into trees, poles, or other fixtures with hard unyielding surfaces.
  • Thrown into traffic – After an initial collision, cyclists may be ejected into adjacent lanes where they risk being struck by additional vehicles.

How Cyclists Can Avoid Sideswipe Crashes

While motorists bear responsibility for passing safely, cyclists can also take steps to prevent sideswipe accidents:

  • Ride as far right as practicable – Give passing vehicles the most room possible. Avoid the door zone around parked cars.
  • Use lights and reflectors – Increase your visibility to passing motorists, especially at night. Use bright front lights and rear blinkers. Wear reflective gear and slap bracelets.
  • Signal turns well in advance – Alert drivers of your intentions so they don’t begin passing just as you need to move left. Signal at least 30 seconds before turning.
  • Scan behind frequently – Look back for approaching vehicles so you can take evasive action if a dangerous pass seems imminent. Use bike mirrors to monitor traffic.
  • Avoid risky situations – Be extra vigilant when drivers may be rushed or impatient, such as during dense traffic or near intersections.
  • Make eye contact with drivers – Try to make eye contact with motorists before they pass to confirm they see you.
  • Assume motorists don’t see you – Ride defensively and be prepared to take action even if drivers seem oblivious to your presence.
  • Learn evasive maneuvers – Practice emergency braking, quick stops, and avoidance swerving so you can react quickly if needed.
  • Wear a helmet – A properly fitted bike helmet can reduce head injury risks by up to 85% in crashes.

Get Legal Help After a Sideswipe Bicycle Injury

If you suffer injuries as the result of a negligent motorist sideswiping you on your bicycle, contact our experienced bicycle accident attorneys immediately. We can investigate the crash, establish the at-fault driver’s liability, and make sure you receive full compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and all other losses. Don’t hesitate to get legal help so you can focus on your recovery while holding the responsible party accountable.

Visit our offices at:

  • Beverly Hills – 8383 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 830, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
  • Los Angeles – 212 East Pico Blvd, Suite #4, Los Angeles, CA 90015
  • Tulare – 100 E. Cross, Suite #122, Tulare, CA 93274
  • Hanford – 13400 Hanford Armona Rd, Suite #B

Or call now for a free consultation on (877) 729-2652 or (323) 782-9927.


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