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“Share the Road” Makes for a Great Slogan But Somewhat Confusing Laws

There are millions of vehicles that travel on Indiana roads each day. And as the summer months continue, those roads are becoming ever more crowded with the increasing number of Hoosiers utilizing the state’s bike laws while enjoying the warm weather. Undoubtedly, some of those cyclists have seen the various license plates encouraging one another to “Share the Road.” It is indeed a catchy slogan, but laws had to be passed in order to accomplish that lofty goal.

Here is the catch: the laws that have currently been passed can often be confusing, and have not been clearly articulated by anyone. This lack of basic understanding of the rights and responsibilities of riders, pedestrians, and cyclists alike will inevitably lead to more accidents in the streets all over this state. For example, if a cyclist and a motor vehicle both arrive at an intersection, who has the “right of way”? Or can a cyclist ride in a middle lane, or should she try to stay as close to the curb as possible if there is no bike lane present? The answer that you get for these questions really does depend on who you ask, and when you ask them.

A few of the obstacles to getting to the bottom of these quandaries include the overall novelty of the law, coupled with the lack of test cases that have presently gone through the courts. Unfortunately, some accidents may have to occur before the laws on the books (and the attitudes and responses of road travelers) finally sort themselves out.

New Law on the Books

In the meantime, the laws just keep on coming. On July 1, 2014 our neighbor to the east, Indiana, became the 16th state in the nation to enact “Dead Red” laws, which allow motorcycles, bicycles, and mopeds to literally run red lights in the event that the light has not changed after 2 minutes. The rationale of the law is that the light-changing sensors are triggered by the presence of the heavy weight of automobiles and often fail to recognize lighter vehicles. Needless to say, the odds of more crashes occurring at intersections might have risen because of this. In fact, between 2006 and 2010, there was a 7.2% increase in the number of bicycle and motor vehicle collisions across our state, and that number may continue to rise in the future.

The current bicycle law clearly states that the operator of a motor vehicle must “exercise due care” to avoid colliding with both pedestrians and cyclists alike, therefore putting an extra legal burden on drivers. This is not to say that all the cyclists riding along obey each and every traffic law to the letter, but it simply puts an extra duty of care on motor vehicle operators as they make their way across the state’s roads and highways.

Use Caution and Common Sense on the Roads
It would be wise for every driver to stay alert for travelers on bikes. Always be on the lookout for reflector vests and lights at dusk and dawn. Be sure to look both ways before crossing an intersection, and not just for slower moving pedestrians, but for cyclists as well. Drivers should be patient, courteous, and do everything they can to “share the road.”

Contact an Accident Attorney

In the unfortunate event that you or someone you love is involved in an accident involving a motor vehicle, it is incredibly important to secure competent, trustworthy, and experienced representation. Along with the physical injury and pain that usually follow an accident, individuals often have to deal with mounting medical bills, lost wages, property damage, insurance companies, police reports, information requests, and more.

It is a comfort to know that you have a team on your side doing everything they can to ensure you get what you need to pay those medical bills, restore those lost wages, and to get you compensated in every way the law allows. Our firm has such a team, and we are ready to serve your needs.