Wednesday May 18, 2016

Avoiding Accidents and Injuries While Cycling at Night

Authored by: David S.R. Parker Posted in: Personal Injury

When people venture outside, they often consider the time of year before they decide what to wear. What they don’t consider is the time of day. Especially in the summer, night time can be a cooler alternative to being active under the hot sun. Being outside at night time requires you to be extra vigilant so drivers can easily spot you. Below are some tips to help avoid accidents.

The first obvious solution to avoid blending in with the dark is making yourself brighter. Reflective gear or a flashing arm light and ankle bands are the easiest way to attract drivers’ attention. Fortunately, a lot of cycling and running gear are now made with this in mind and often have reflective strips built in. When you are cycling at night do not be afraid to have as many flashing lights as you can on your bicycle. In Nova Scotia, the law requires that when riding at night on a bicycle, at minimum you must use a white front light and red rear reflector or light.

Another seemingly obvious solution to avoid blending into the darkness is to plan your route in a well lit area. Back roads and side streets that do not have street lights can add additional danger as you become more difficult to spot.

Cycling with headphones is considered to be dangerous at any time of day. This is even more so at night time. If a vehicle is coming up behind you at night, it is less likely to see you and with headphones in, you will be less likely to hear it.

Obeying traffic lights and signals becomes even more important at night. Making eye contact with a driver before crossing the road is always a helpful tool however it is virtually impossible at night time. Instead of making eye contact, try making hand signals to gesture you are crossing and wait to receive recognition back from the driver. As you may be harder to see, it is important to slow your pace.

Always carry identification with you when you go out for a night time run or cycle. You can purchase an ID tag for your shoes, sew one onto your clothing or just write your information on a piece of paper and put it in your shoes, shorts or pockets. If an accident were to happen, this allows emergency officials to identify you.

Both cyclists and drivers have certain duties that are imposed upon them by law which dictate how they are expected to behave on the road. A cyclist can be found at least equally at fault when struck by a vehicle if the cyclist is found to not have obeyed these duties. Both under the Motor Vehicle Act, RS c293 as well as in past cases, cyclists have been determined to be either partially or fully  liable for not having appropriate head lights, using ineffective turn signals, and a general lack of diligence to make them visible to drivers. Drivers have also been held partially and fully liable in collisions for not taking the proper precautions to spot a cyclist or driving negligently under the circumstances.

If you find yourself in an accident and are injured, either as driver or cyclist, it is always best to discuss with a personal injury lawyer your rights, responsibilities and claim for compensation that you may have. 

David S.R. Parker is a Partner that practices in the area of Personal Injury Law. If you have questions connect with David by phone (902) 460-3447 or email dparker@boyneclarke.ca.

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