With spring in full swing and summer almost here, we’re seeing more bicyclists take to the streets in Maine cities like Bangor and Portland. Our Bangor injury lawyers are encouraging all drivers to use extra caution and remember that Maine Bicycling Law affords bicyclists most of the same rights, and responsibilities, as any motorist.
State law also requires those behind the wheel maintain a three-foot distance when passing bicyclists and to use extra care if they observe a child bicyclist.
It’s easy sometimes to forget how dangerous Maine roads can be for bicyclists, thanks to drivers who are careless, distracted or drunk. May is National Bike Month, and the National Safety Council reports a nearly 30 percent increase in collisions during the last eight years. There were more than 1,000 bicyclist deaths in 2017, nearly 700 of those involving motor vehicles.
Unfortunately, many who cause bicycle accidents – even serious ones – are often given a slap on the wrist.
Sun Glare Cited in Fatal Maine Bicycle Accident
Case-in-point: A 23-year-old Somerville man was recently sentenced to a three-month license suspension and a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to a civil infraction for the 2016 Maine bicycle accident death of a local doctor, whom he struck with his pickup.
The driver blamed it on the sun, saying he didn’t see the bicyclist until after he stopped. Investigators determined speed and alcohol were not factors in the crash. The county district attorney in Kennebec said this was the reason no criminal charges were filed.
Our Bangor bicycle accident lawyers know that sun glare, a relatively common condition on Maine roads in the spring and summer (and sometimes winter when light reflects from snow), is unlikely to be successful as a defense in a civil injury lawsuit. Numerous courts across the country have examined the issue, and where cases were not settled, most have rejected the sun glare defense. For example, in 2011, the New York Court of Appeals ruled a trial court erred in applying the emergency doctrine in a pedestrian wrongful death lawsuit where the sun glare defense was used.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine issued a statement expressing disappointment with the decision not to pursue stiffer charges in the doctor’s death. Memorial rides have been held in the years since the tragedy, both to remember her and remind motorists of how important it is to look twice for bicycles.
Maine Bicycle Safety Tips for Spring
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nearly 820 bicyclists are killed in collisions with motor vehicles each year. Maine bicycle accidents tend to spike in the spring, when cyclists are more likely to be on the road and drivers are less used to seeing them after a long winter.
- Check their bicycle and equipment.
- Wear a helmet.
- Plan to be seen.
- Follow the rules of the road.
For more information, visit the National Safety Council‘s website.
If you are injured in a Bangor bicycle accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Driver who struck bicyclist in fatal 2016 Windsor crash loses license for 3 months, Feb. 8, 2019, Kennebec Journal