Motorists don’t always see cyclists on the road. When drivers of motor vehicles pay attention to the road, most times they’re only looking out for other vehicles and fail to keep an eye out for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Since bicycles share the road with regular-sized vehicles and often don’t have their own bike lane, it can be dangerous for cyclists if motorists perform certain maneuvers.
Chicago Code of Ordinances
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, (IDOT) there were just under just under 3,000 bicycle crashes in Illinois in 2018. Over 2,000 bicyclists were injured in those crashes and 24 of those collisions caused the cyclist injuries which resulted in their death. Bicyclists are more exposed on their bikes, and their bodies take the force when a car collides with them, which is why bicycle accidents can be so dangerous.
One vehicular maneuver that is especially dangerous for bicyclists is what is referred to as a right-hook turn. Right-hook turns are right-hand turns that are made in front of a bicyclist at an intersection. When a car takes a right-hand turn in front of a bicycle, the car may turn right as the bicyclist continues to ride forward. This can cause the car to hit the bicyclist on their side or the bicyclist to ride straight into the car.
The Chicago Code of Ordinances outlines that making a right-hook turn in front of a bicycle is illegal in Chicago. The severity of the potential injuries from taking a right-hook turn in front of a bicyclist is what makes these turns illegal. Taking a right turn into a bicyclist could cause permanent damage and potentially kill them. Their midsection could take the blow from the front of the vehicle, which could damage internal organs as well as their neck, back, and spine. If a car hits their head, that could cause serious brain damage, paralysis, or worse.
How to Avoid Right-Hook Turns in Front of Bicyclists
When sharing the road with bicycles, drivers need to be aware of how to drive safely alongside bicyclists. People on bikes also need to be constantly aware and following the rules of the road while they ride. They must ride as if they are invisible. However, as the operator of a larger, more dangerous vehicle, drivers need to proceed with caution and be extra vigilant of bicyclists.
This tip sheet for motorists recommends being on the lookout for cyclists anywhere on the road, but especially when approaching intersections since that is where most collisions with bicycles occur. To avoid an illegal right-hook turn in front of a bicyclist, motorists should brake and wait to complete the turn until the bicyclist passes them on their right. That way, they can be sure that the bicyclist is safely out of the trajectory of their turn.
For added safety, a motorist should attempt to make eye contact with the cyclist. This ensures to the cyclist that you see them and confirms that they see you. Once both are aware of each other, and the turn signal shows the driver’s intentions, the cyclist can proceed with caution and the driver can wait to complete their turn until they have cleared the intersection. Staying alert, eliminating distractions, and driving defensively can keep motorists and cyclists safe on the road.
At Krzak Rundio Law Group in Chicago, we fully understand the rules of the road, the laws surrounding riding bicycles, and how motorists are supposed to share the road. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, we can guide you through the claims process. Contact our office for a free, no obligation consultation to find out if you have a potential case.