Do Bicyclists Have to Follow The Same Rules and Laws That Drivers Do?

Multiple bike riders

In Florida, bicycles are defined as vehicles, which means that bicyclists have all the responsibilities, rights, and privileges to use the roadways as motor vehicle drivers do. The only time that this doesn’t apply is when bicycles are traveling on expressways. Likewise, this means that both bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers must stop for red lights and stop signs, use proper lights after dark, ride with traffic flow, give the right-of-way in intersections, and yield to pedestrians crossing the street.

However, bicyclists are much more susceptible to life-changing injuries and death than drivers they share the road with. In 2021, 189 bicycle crashes occurred in Sarasota, resulting in 178 injuries and 2 deaths. It’s important to note, though, that this isn’t to say that motor vehicle drivers are always at fault in bike vs. car accidents.

Who is At Fault and Liable in a Bicycle vs. Car Accident?

Cars and bicycles are legally considered vehicles, and drivers and bicyclists are obligated to obey all traffic laws. Legally speaking, if a claim, dispute, or lawsuit arises from a bike vs. car crash, the actions of both parties when the crash occurred would be investigated to determine who caused the crash or whether both parties contributed to the crash in some way.

But how is fault or either party’s negligence determined in such cases? What exactly constitutes negligence? Since both drivers and bicyclists have a legal duty of care to ensure everyone’s safety on the roadways and must observe all the traffic rules, fault will likely be assigned to the party that breached or violated this duty of care.

For example, among the most common bike vs. car accidents involve one party failing to yield the right-of-way. The first party to arrive at intersections without traffic signals always has the right-of-way. Another common accident involving right-of-way rules is where a driver turns right and strikes a bicyclist. In this case, the driver is at fault for the crash.

Likewise, drivers who drive too close to bicycles and cause a crash will be considered negligent. Drivers can’t pass bicyclists unless they can do it safely by maintaining adequate space between their car and the bike. Drivers hitting bicyclists as they pass is among the most common types of bike vs. car crashes.

But bicyclists must also follow the side-of-road rules. If they’re not as fast as the traffic flow, they must stay on the far-right side of the lane. Likewise, they must travel on dedicated bicycle lanes whenever possible. If they fail to follow these traffic rules and cause an accident, they may be held liable for the crash.

Get In Touch With a Skilled Sarasota Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you suffered serious injuries in an accident while riding your bike or driving your car, contact the Matthews Injury Law right away. You can find out more about your case and legal options by discussing your situation with our Sarasota personal injury attorney. To arrange your free case review, call 941-877-5800 or send us an online message.