Bicycle Safety in North Carolina
Riding a bicycle is one of the most enjoyable experiences for people of all ages. Whether riding for pleasure, for exercise, or as transportation, bicycling is one of the best ways to get around and enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, bicycle riding can also be somewhat dangerous. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) each year there are about 1,000 reported accidents involving bicycles. About 60 people suffer serious injuries and 20 are killed in bicycle accidents. Injuries and deaths are highest among children and young adults.
Bicycle Laws in North Carolina
Bicycles are non-motorized vehicles as defined by NCDOT. As such, bicyclists must obey the same rules and laws as other drivers. Motorized and non-motorized vehicle operators must abide by state and local traffic laws. It is helpful to understand the laws that apply to bicyclists and other drivers in North Carolina.
- Children under the age of 16 are required by law to wear a protective bicycle helmet.
- When riding at night, a bicycle must have a working white front light visible from 300 feet.
- Bicycles must also have a rear reflector or light visible from 200 feet.
- Bicycles are not permitted to ride on Interstates and other controlled access highways.
- Bicyclists must travel in the same direction as traffic.
- Bike riders must obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Bicyclists must use appropriate hand signals or electronic signals when making a turn.
- Bike riders cannot ride while impaired and can be subject to DWI laws.
Bicycle riders should always ride in the right side of the lane except when making a turn. However, it is important to note that a bike rider has the right to use the full lane, the same as drivers in motorized vehicles. Bike riders should remain aware of other drivers and should not use earbuds or other devices that could prevent them from hearing or paying attention to traffic.
Motorized Vehicle Laws
There are some laws that specifically pertain to motorized vehicles when they are near bicyclists. Drivers must stay at least two feet away from a bicycle when passing. Passing a bicyclist is prohibited in no-passing zones, intersections, railroad crossings, and anywhere the driver cannot see more than 500 yards ahead. Drivers need to treat bicyclists the same as any other vehicles on the road. Drivers must be careful to stay aware of bicycles on the roads and take the necessary precautions to ensure safety. Drivers should make eye contact with bicyclists in situations where it is necessary to ensure proper safety. For example, drivers must be careful at stop signs where bicyclists are present. Drivers and bicyclists are required to remain at the scene of any accident which results in injuries until police arrive.
North Carolina Vision Zero
N.C. Vision Zero is a statewide safety initiative that has the goal of reducing and eliminating bicycle accidents. The organization provides education and information to citizens to reduce bicycle accidents, injuries and fatalities in the state. The group works with various groups to provide community education programs. They also work to promote safe bicycling laws and improved bicycling lanes and paths.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a bicycle accident, you may be owed compensation for your injuries and damages. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
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