Recently, a 25-year-old Mountain Home woman, Deniese McFall, was killed when she was struck by an SUV while bicycling on Arkansas State Highway 5 North. A second bicyclist, 21-year-old Andrew Strevels, also of Mountain Home, was injured as a result of the crash.
According to the Arkansas State Police accident report report, a juvenile was driving a 1985 Chevrolet Blazer south on Arkansas State Highway at 1:13 a.m. and while negotiating a turn, struck McFall who was in the southbound lane. The Blazer continued and struck Strevels, who was in the center turn lane.
The Blazer’s driver was not injured, police said.
Obviously, this is a real tragedy, so we have to ask ourselves what we can do to prevent such Arkansas bicycle fatalities.
What can we ALL do to prevent Arkansas bicycle fatalities?
Bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers both have a duty to ensure the safety of the road and for all those who use it.
How bicyclists can prevent bike accidents
- Obey all traffic laws: This includes traffic lights, stop signs, one-way streets and other traffic laws. Always yield to traffic. Hand signals should also be used to show intent.
- If there is a bike lane, use it. Don’t use the vehicle lanes if there is a bike lane and always ride in the same direction that traffic is flowing.
- Ride to the right: Ride to the right of your lane or to the outside lanes on a one-way street.
- Use lights: Drivers can easily see a white headlight when you are behind them and a red reflector light when they are behind you. Be sure your bicycle is equipped with them as they are most valuable in dim light and poor visibility.
- Wear bright reflective clothing: Bright, reflective clothing makes you more visible to drivers.
- Do not carry anything in your hands. Use baskets, bicycle saddlebags, racks and backpacks to carry items.
- Always yield to pedestrians: Bicyclists move faster than pedestrians so always yield to them. Also, a warning bell can help keep everyone safer.
- Wear a helmet and make sure your kids do too. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets save lives and reduce the risk of head injury by 85%.
How drivers can prevent bike accidents
- Do not be a distracted driver: Do not text and drive, talk on the phone, eat, put on make-up or mess with any of your devices. (Statistics show that if you are communicating by text while driving a vehicle, you are 23 times more likely to crash.)
- Be careful passing: Assess the situation when passing a bicycle. Don’t pass a bicyclist going downhill, around curves, or when he is riding his bike at the same speed as traffic. Give yourself plenty of room when you do pass and do so slowly and carefully. Never cut off the bicyclist when turning right.
- Keep an eye out for bike lanes: When there is a bike lane, pay extra attention to the possibility that there may be a bicyclist up ahead and never veer into that lane.
- Note bicyclist’s hand signals: Pay attention to a bicyclist’s hand signals. When a bicyclist holds his arm out, it means he’s turning right or left. Drivers should be familiar with the signals so they understand the bicyclist’s intention.
- Give bicyclists 3 feet if possible: At least 3 feet of clearance gives bicyclists room and prevents cars from swiping the bicyclists.
- Beware of dooring a bicyclist: You can seriously injure or kill a cyclist if you suddenly open your door. Always check for all kinds of traffic when opening your car door.
- Don’t honk at a bicyclist: Honking can startle him and could make him crash.
- Be patient: If you get impatient with a bicyclist, keep in mind that there is a person on that bicycle. Treat every bicyclist as you would want someone else to treat those you love in the same situation.
Preventing a bicycle accident depends on both the cyclist and the driver. Share the responsibility and share the road.
Please, let’s keep it safe out there.
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