Blind Spots Bicycle Accident Attorneys in Boston

There you are, riding your bicycle to work like you do every day, when suddenly you are lying in a heap on the pavement. A driver rushes over, shouting that you must have been in his blind spot because he never saw you.

While blind spot accidents are mainly preventable when mirrors are correctly adjusted and a driver is paying careful attention to the road, these accidents happen in Boston and other cities frequently.

According to government statistics, approximately 840,000 blind spot accidents occur in the United States annually and cause 300 deaths.

Many of these accidents involve trucks because these large vehicles have larger blind spots than passenger cars. It is not uncommon for accident victims to be bicyclists as bicycles are much smaller than cars and easier to lose in a blind spot.

If you are a bicycle rider who has suffered serious injuries in a blind spot accident, the bicycle attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers are ready to help. After reviewing the facts of your accident, we will tell you whether you have a viable claim against the driver. If so, we will fight to recover money for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Our law office works on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing until we win your case.

Common Causes of Blind Spot Bicycle Accidents

A "blind spot" refers to an area surrounding a motor vehicle that a driver cannot see, either directly or indirectly, when seated behind the wheel.

In contrast, drivers have a direct view if they can see a specific area through one of the vehicle's windows. An indirect view refers to what drivers can see when using mirrors or cameras.

In a typical car, drivers have blind spots along each side—to the back right and back left—where they cannot see. In addition, drivers have these obstacles that they must see around:

  • Exterior side view mirrors
  • Interior rearview mirror
  • The A-pillar (also known as the windshield pillar)
  • Additional pillars, including ones that make up the vehicle's frame
  • Seat headrests
  • Passengers
  • Cargo

Drivers should never pile up cargo in a vehicle and block sightlines. This applies to passenger vehicles, vans, and trucks.

Some of the leading causes of blind spot bicycle crashes are:

  • Drivers who do not check their blind spots before turning or changing lanes.
  • Drivers who fail to properly adjust their mirrors.
  • Distracted drivers who are focused on extraneous activities such as texting on a cell phone, eating, or grooming instead of checking blind spots for bicyclists.
  • Speeding and aggressive drivers who ignore not only the rules of the road, but the safety of bicycle riders.

Drivers who are most likely to cause blind spot bicycle accidents are:

  • Teen drivers and other inexperienced drivers
  • Drivers with eyesight problems
  • Older drivers
  • Distracted drivers

In addition, drivers who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol or overly tired are less likely to maintain a lookout for vehicles in their blind spots.

Researchers have found that motorists sometimes fail to see bicyclists and motorcyclists in their blind spots, even when they check them, because of something known as inattentional blindness. According to this phenomenon, people are more likely to see the vehicles they expect to see in their mirrors like cars and trucks.

Blind Spot Back-Up Bicycle Accidents

The spot directly behind a motor vehicle is the area where a large number of blind spot accidents occur. These accidents, known as "back-up" collisions, often involve bicycle riders and other at-risk road users such as children, other pedestrians, and motorcyclists. This blind spot is so dangerous that it has been called a "killing zone." Motorists backing out of driveways or parking spots should always check their blind spots for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other cars.

Back-over accidents occur when a vehicle backs up into a bicyclist or pedestrian, striking them to the ground, and then drives over them. The bicyclist almost always suffers severe or fatal injuries. Children are often involved in these incidents because of their small size.

Another common accident scenario occurs when a motorist makes a right-hand turn into a bicyclist proceeding straight through an intersection. Often, these drivers do not see the cyclist until it is too late. Drivers who change lanes without checking their blind spots are at risk of crashing into cyclists or other roadway users.

Truck Blind Spots and Bicycle Accidents

Boston's roads are busy with trucks, delivery vans, MBTA buses, and other oversized vehicles at any given time. Generally speaking, larger vehicles have larger blind spots.

For example, a tractor-trailer has four areas where the truck driver cannot see that are known as "no zones":

  1. A front no zone, which is about 20-25 feet
  2. A rear no zone, which is about 200 feet
  3. A right-side no zone, which covers about two traffic lanes
  4. A left-side no zone, which covers about one traffic lane

The right-side no zone is larger than the left because of the driver's location in the vehicle.

Truck-bicycle collisions often occur in these no zones. The general rule is that if you cannot see a truck driver in the driver's side mirror, the driver cannot see you.

Similar blind spots exist around construction equipment, including bulldozers, cement trucks, and cranes.

For this reason, bicycle riders should use care when pedaling through construction zones. In addition, bicyclists should avoid following closely behind trucks or other large vehicles whenever possible. You are probably in the driver's blind spot if you are too close.

Blind Spot Accident Technology

Blind spot bicycle accidents are mostly preventable. Proper adjustment of mirrors and the use of technology can eliminate or minimize vehicle blind spots. By adjusting a vehicle's mirrors to reduce and shrink any blind spots, a driver can prevent an object such as a bicycle or scooter from being wholly obscured from view. A driver who can see even a tiny portion of a bicycle has the opportunity to avoid a collision.

Many newer cars include blind spot detection systems that alert a driver when objects on either side of the vehicle are identified. These systems have helped reduce blind spot accidents in recent years. While this technology can help drivers be more aware of their surroundings, they should still use other methods to monitor blind spots.

Drivers can do their part to avoid blind spot accidents by verifying that their mirrors are properly adjusted and turning their heads to check blind spots before making turns and merging. In addition, they should move their heads to look around car window frames and other sight obstructions when at intersections and slowly execute turns while carefully checking side mirrors.

How to Avoid a Vehicle's Blind Spots and Stay Safe

Regardless of whether you are traveling on a bicycle alongside cars or trucks, you should always ride defensively and assume that drivers do not see you.

When pedaling around Boston, you can avoid blind spot accidents by:

  • Traveling in bicycle lanes whenever possible.
  • Watching drivers' eyes to see whether they are paying attention to the road or distracted by a cell phone or some other activity. By making eye contact, you have a better shot of the driver seeing you.
  • Wearing bright clothing and using bicycle lights.
  • Not stopping to the right of a motor vehicle already waiting at a stop sign or red light. In most cases, the driver will not see you. Instead, stop behind stopped so that you can avoid being right hooked and are visible to traffic on all sides.
  • Expecting a collision. This mindset may help you avoid being hit.

The bottom line is that you should never rely on drivers to check their blind spots.

Keep in mind that bicycle riders can equip their bicycles with mirrors to improve their ability to see behind them. It is also worth noting that some of the newest electronic bicycles, or e-bikes, on the market come with their own blind spot detection systems.

If you have endured serious injuries in a bicycle accident, contact the Boston bicycle advocates at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers at (617) 777-7777 for a free consultation or fill out our online form.

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