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Bicycle Safety Rules for Drivers: How to Coexist with Cyclists


The roads aren’t just for cars – bicyclists also have a right to use them. Unfortunately, bicyclists are particularly vulnerable in crashes with motor vehicles. Early estimates from the NHTSA show that bicyclist fatalities increased by 5% in 2021 compared to 2020. To bring this number down, drivers need to embrace bicycle safety and learn how to coexist with cyclists.

Pay Attention

When you drive, give the road your full attention. The NHTSA says distracted driving killed 3,142 people in 2020. Many activities can be distracting, but texting is especially dangerous. This is because sending or reading a text means you take your eyes off the road for five seconds. That might not seem like a long time, but it can be the difference between life and death when you’re behind the wheel. In Hawaii, it is illegal to use a cell phone, an mp3 player, or any other mobile electronic device while driving.

In addition to avoiding distractions, drivers should actively look for bicyclists. The principle of selective attention means people tend to focus on certain things while tuning out others. If you’re only focusing on cars, you might not notice pedestrians or bicyclists.

Be Patient

Fatal crashes can occur when drivers become impatient and speed around a bicyclist. Don’t ever do this. Delays are common when traveling – give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. Remember, shaving a couple of minutes off your trip is never worth risking someone’s life.

The Honolulu Department of Transportation Services says bicyclists are allowed to use the full lane when the lane is too narrow for a car and a bicycle to pass side by side safely. The bicyclist may be moving slower than normal traffic, but you need to wait until you can safely pass on the left. Slow down around bicyclists, giving them at least 3 feet when passing.

The NHTSA says you should yield to bicyclists to avoid turning in front of one. Drivers who underestimate the speed of a bicyclist might turn when they don’t have enough time to do so safely, resulting in a collision.

In addition, don’t honk your horn around bicyclists, if you can avoid it. The sound can startle bicyclists, which may cause them to swerve.

Exercise Extra Caution at Intersections and in Parking Lots

An analysis by the NHTSA revealed that 51% of bicycle crashes involved intersections.

The NHTSA says you should come to a complete stop when turning right at a red light. Look left, right, left, and then behind to see if there are any bicyclists in the vicinity.

You should also be extra careful in parking lots and when backing up. Furthermore, if you’re parked on the side of the road, look for bicyclists before opening your door to avoid hitting someone.

Safety Is Your Priority

Bicyclists are supposed to follow the rules of the road, too. For example, they should stop at stop signs and use hand signals before turning or changing lanes. These practices can help them stay safe.

However, keep in mind that some bicyclists are children who may not know the rules of the road. Even some adults may be unaware of rules and safety practices. Give bicyclists extra room and always make bicycle safety a priority.

Safe drivers can help save lives. They can also enjoy better car insurance rates. If you’re looking for car insurance, find an agent.