“Obey the law” is the second layer of crash prevention. About half of bike-car collisions are the cyclist’s fault, and half are the motorist’s fault, so by obeying the rules of the road, you can reduce your risk of a car-bike collision by half.
Common causes of bike-car collisions*:
Bicyclist wrong-way riding: 14%
Motorist left-turn in front of cyclist: 13%
Bicyclist left-turn from right side of road: 11%
Motorist right-turn in front of bicyclist: 11%
Bicyclist fails to yield from a driveway: 9%
Bicyclist runs stop sign or signal: 8%
Motorist runs stop sign or signal: 8%
Motorist opens a car door into path of bicyclist: 7%
Motorist fails to yield from driveway: 6%
Bicyclist swerves in front of car: 5%
Motorist didn’t see cyclist: 3%
By implementing the first two layers of crash prevention, Control Your Bike and Obey the Law, you can reduce your risk of a crash by over 90%!
The rules for biking are similar to the rules for driving.
The Five Layers of Crash Prevention developed by the League of American Bicyclists for their Smart Cycling program are:
1. Control your bike. 83% of bike wrecks don’t involve a motor vehicle. Learn the common pitfalls and how to avoid them.
2. Obey the law. In half of car-bike collisions, the cyclist was not obeying a traffic law.
3. Discourage drivers’ mistakes. Just like defensive driving, you can discourage drivers from making common mistakes by choosing where and how to ride. A key concept is learning how to control the lane.
4. Avoid drivers’ mistakes. For those mistakes they make anyway, there are a couple maneuvers you can learn—and practice!—to avoid a collision.
5. Wear a helmet. Practicing the four principles above prevents over 90% of bike wrecks. The helmet can save your life for the few you can’t avoid.
*These statistics were compiled by the League of American Bicyclists. They do not add up to 100% because there is overlap when both the motorist and the cyclist contributed to the collision, and there are causes not included on this list. I have seen a wide variety of statistics presented in many ways. For example, a Toronto study found that bicyclists were at fault in less than 10% of bike-car collisions. Regardless, obeying the law will decrease your risk, though the exact amount is debatable.