There are serious accidents every year in which cyclists are hit by drivers who are attempting to pass or overtake them. These accidents are incredibly hazardous for cyclists because even a bike helmet just isn’t that much protection when being struck by car.
In some cases, these accidents happen because drivers don’t know how to pass. They make mistakes that put everyone in greater danger than they ever should have been in. How does this happen and what are drivers supposed to do?
A common mistake: Passing in the same lane
One of the most common things that will happen is that a driver will get stuck behind a cyclist and want to pass because the cyclist is riding below the speed limit. If there’s no one in the oncoming lanes, then the driver should simply move over to those lines and pass legally and safely, just as they would if it was another motor vehicle.
But what will happen is that other cars will be coming and the driver won’t have space to get around. What they should do is wait behind the cyclist, slowing down and giving them time until they can pass safely. But what they will sometimes decide is that, instead, they’re going to pass in the same lane even though there is clearly not enough space. This means that they’re incredibly close to the cyclist and they could strike them accidentally.
This is a dangerous and illegal tactic. The North Carolina Driver’s Handbook spells it out like this:
“Drivers wishing to pass a bicyclist may do so only when there is abundant clearance and no oncoming traffic is in the opposing lane. When passing a bicyclist, always remember the bicyclist is entitled to use of the full lane.”
But drivers are often in a hurry and they don’t want to wait as long as they should. They also feel like they deserve the whole lane, not the cyclist. If you’ve been hit by a driver who made a mistake like this, then you need to know how to seek financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other costs.