Avoiding and managing crashes
Practising safe cycling will help you respond correctly to hazardous situations.
As a bicycle rider, you have greater exposure when travelling on the road than drivers in motor vehicles. It's most important to be alert to all traffic and hazards and be capable and competent when riding.
Causes of crashes
Times of crashes
Most crashes involving bicycle riders occur on weekdays between 4pm and 6pm. At this time of day, the vision of all road users can be impaired due to the setting sun, heavy traffic flow and fatigue. Make yourself more visible and safer at this time by wearing high visibility clothing and using front and rear lights. In addition, try to keep a buffer space between you and the traffic. Use your hazard perception skills to try to predict the actions of motor vehicle drivers around you.
Drivers often claim not to have seen bicycle riders coming through intersections as an explanation for a crash. Try to make eye contact with drivers at intersections to ensure that you are noticed. Also scan the road environment on approach to intersections and assess other vehicles approaching, regardless of direction.
From the footpath
If you are travelling on a shared path and wish to join the traffic, it's recommended that you stop at a point where you have a good sight line to traffic movement on the road. Don't leave the path between parked vehicles as oncoming drivers will not be able to see you.
Vehicles turning in front of you
Be alert to vehicles that may cross in front of you. This could be a vehicle turning left or right into a street or driveway. Pay particular attention to cars when you are travelling on the left hand side of a queue. Often vehicles will turn across your path if there is a gap in the queue.
Parked cars and opening doors
Avoid crashes caused by opening doors - always look through car rear windows to determine whether or not an occupant is about to get out of the car. Parked cars may pull out from the kerb. Look for clues such as a flash of the brake or reversing lights, right hand indicator or a sign that the car is about to move such as front wheels moving. You should also slow down or keep a buffer zone between you and any parked cars. Use your bell or horn to signal your approach to vehicle occupants.
Bicycle riders can be seriously injured when a car suddenly reverses out of a driveway or car parking area. Children are especially at risk around parked cars and may not be visible to the driver in the rear vision mirror. Although the onus is on the driver to reverse safely, you need to remain aware of reversing cars - particularly when riding on shared paths. Establish eye contact with the driver before you ride behind a parked vehicle and look for reversing lights and beepers that warn you of a car which is about to reverse.
What to do in case of a crash
If you are involved in a crash, the first thing you should do is check yourself and the other party for injuries. If you or the other party is hurt, seek medical assistance by phoning 000.
Record details of the crash
Try to record the following details in case you need to lodge a report with the Police, a claim for workers compensation or insurance:
- Location, date and time of the crash
- Details of the parties involved:
a. Name and address
b. Driver licence numbers
c. Number plates
- Details of the crash:
a. Injuries sustained
b. Damage to property
c. Events leading to the crash
- Obtain witness information:
a. Names and contact details
Report the crash to Police
If a person is seriously injured or killed in a crash, you must immediately report the crash to the Police. If no one is injured, but damage to property exceeds $500, you need to report the incident to the Police within 24 hours. When calling the Police, make sure you have all the details of the crash available. If the crash involves a person being seriously injured or killed, you may be required to attend a Police Station for an interview.
Report the crash to your insurance company
If you have insurance cover for property damage or personal injury you should report the crash to your insurance company.