The Seattle/Tacoma region is popular with bicyclists but experiences a growing number of accidents
According to Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, in 2012, 726 lost their lives in bicycle/motor vehicle crashes nationally, just under two people every day of the year in the U.S. The death rate from bicycle crashes is high due to the relative lack of protection bicyclists have in an impact with a motor vehicle.
Bicycling Laws in Seattle and Tacoma
Seattle/Tacoma traffic-safety laws are designed to allow bicyclists to share the road safely with motor vehicles in an increasingly crowded space.
According to the State of Washington Department of Transportation:
- Bicycle Helmets - Currently, there is no state law requiring helmet use. However, some cities and counties do require helmets.
- Riding on the Road - When riding on a roadway, a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver.
- Roads Closed to Bicycles - Some designated sections of the state's limited access highway system may be closed to bicycles for safety reasons.
- Children Bicycling - Parents or guardians may not knowingly permit bicycle traffic violations by their ward.
- Riding Side by Side - Cyclists may ride side by side, but not more than two abreast.
- Riding at Night - For night bicycle riding, a white front light (not a reflector) visible for 500 feet and a red rear reflector are required. A red rear light may be used in addition to the required reflector.
- Shoulder vs. Bike Lane - Cyclists may choose to ride on the path, bike lane, shoulder or travel lane as suits their safety needs.
Get information on bicycle crashes from the police departments in the Seattle and Tacoma region
The Seattle Police Department offers information on accidents, and also provides information on obtaining a police report. You can also submit a public disclosure request to obtain information from the department.
These departments are a good resource to get information after a bicycle crash.
Washington State's Department of Licensing provides information on traffic laws and licensing and insurance requirements.
Seattle and Tacoma bicycle crashes have common causes and deadly outcomes
While helmets and proper reflective gear make bicycling safer, riding a bicycle is riskier than driving a car. Maintaining control is more difficult on two wheels, and when collisions happen, bicyclists are at greater risk of serious injury or death because they don't have an enclosed vehicle for protection.
Common causes of bicycle crashes include:
- Motorist turning across path of cyclist;
- Cyclist riding into the path of a motor vehicle;
- Cyclist turning right from a major road and from a minor road;
- Child cyclist playing or riding too fast.
When someone is injured in a Seattle or Tacoma bicycle accident, what needs to happen next?
In an injury bike crash, it is crucial to get appropriate medical treatment, regardless of the financial cost. The major hospitals in the area include:
Harborview Medical Center - Seattle;
Swedish Hospital - Seattle;
University of Washington Medical Center - Seattle;
Virginia Mason Medical Center - Seattle;
St. Joseph Medical Center - Tacoma.
As soon as possible, an injured person should contact their insurance company to find out medical treatment is covered under their insurance policy.
When a bicycle collision is serious or fatal, it is important to find a Seattle or Tacoma bike accident attorney
When a bicycle accident, caused by the negligence of a motorist, results in serious injury or death, the next step is to find an experienced Seattle - Tacoma bicycle accident attorney to start the financial recovery process by launching an insurance claim. Major injury or wrongful death claims are complicated and can be hard to manage without legal help. Having a personal injury lawyer on board is a great relief to injured bicyclists, or to the family left behind when an accident proves fatal.
Since most personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation and work on a contingency basis, meaning that there are no up-front costs and all fees are paid when the claim is settled, there is no downside to speaking with a Seattle - Tacoma personal injury lawyer right away.