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May 12, 2015

Prevent Bicycle Accidents with Proper Safety

Filed under: Arizona's Laws,DUI,DWI,Traffic Offenses — Tags: , , — admin @ 10:17 am

shutterstock_212882305May is National Bike Month, and with it comes a great need for bicycle safety awareness – both for bicyclists themselves and for motor vehicle operators. Bicyclists are at greater risk for accidents and injury simply because of their size relative to the size of vehicles frequently on the road with them. In fact, motorcyclists have a saying: “it’s not if you get into an accident – it’s when.” Adherence to safety precautions and attention to the rules and regulations of the road can reduce risk of harm to everyone involved. The Blumenreich Law Firm has a simple review to help everyone remember the primary goal on the road is not to get to each person’s destination quickly – but to ensure the safety of yourself and everyone around you.

 

Arizona state law stipulates anything propelled by human power that moves an individual can be classified as a “bike”.  Bicycles may have either two or three wheels, none of which may be more than 16” in diameter. What does that mean in terms of what you might see on the road?

  • Traditional two-wheeled bicycles
  • Mopeds
  • Racing wheelchairs
  • Motorcycles

 

It is important to note that bikes are subject to most of the same traffic laws as motor vehicles; the same stop signs and traffic lights apply, and you can be pulled over and cited for improper use of either vehicle. Bicyclists frequently forget there are special laws which apply to them specifically, too. Groups of bikes may never ride more than two abreast (except on bike-exclusive paths) and bicyclists are forbidden to carry items while riding a bike if the items prevent them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.

 

Nighttime safety comes with its own special set of bicycle regulations: bikes are required to have specific lighting to guarantee visibility and reduce accidents at night. Bikes in Arizona must have a lamp of some sort on the front that is visible from at least 500 feet away. Red rear reflectors are also required and must be visible from 50-300 feet when illuminated by headlights (as if from a car).

 

Bicyclists themselves can help prevent accidents by using the proper arm and hand signals to notify motorists about their intentions, similar to a turn signal. Both bicyclists and motorists should understand:

  • Left turn: bicyclist extends hand and arm horizontally
  • Right turn: bicyclist extends hand and arm upward
  • Stop: bicyclist extends hand and arm downward

 

Hand signals are typically presented on the left side of the body where motor vehicles can see them, except in the case of a right-turn, which may be indicated with the right arm instead.

 

In the year 2000, Arizona enacted a “3-foot passing” legislation, which requires motor vehicle operators to allow bikes at least 3 feet of clearance when passing. While it is not mandated by law, it is also encouraged for drivers to slow down when passing bikes to ensure gusts of wind created by fast-moving cars do not topple the bike operators, who are frequently only on two or three wheels.

 

Now for the question everyone has been waiting for: can you get a DUI if you are on a bicycle instead of in a motor vehicle? The answer is both yes and no. DUI laws are written specifically for motor vehicles, which, by definition, a bicycle is not. If, however, you add a motor to your bike, skateboard, or scooter you may be cited with DUI. Motorcyclists are also subject to DUI citations. Even without a motor, it is important to exercise caution with moving objects near busy roads. Intoxication is a recipe for disaster on the road regardless of your method of transportation.

 

While National Bike Month is celebrated only once a year, bike safety applies to everyone on the road year-round. The CDC has determined most bicycle deaths occur in cities where there is heavy congestion at non-intersection locations (when the bicyclist is actively moving alongside vehicles). Be aware at all times and drive safely. It is not just your own life at stake on the road. If you have received a DUI or are in need of legal assistance, call The Blumenreich Law Firm today for your free consultation.

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