Commercial vehicle operators use Oklahoma as a main thoroughfare for hauling their loads to destinations across the United States. The large number of big rigs on the roadways of the state can threaten not only smaller vehicles but also pedestrians and bicyclists, as not all commercial vehicle drivers make an effort to look out for those in their immediate vicinities.
As a pedestrian or bicyclist, you’re obviously going to be moving a lot slower than most vehicles, and you will have little to no protection, making you significantly more vulnerable than most others sharing the roadways.
Fortunately, there are several means for you to be proactive and learn about the risks of moving about in the presence of large vehicles — on the roadways and in parking lots. The following precautions could significantly decrease your odds of being involved in such accidents:
- Be visible: Bright colors during the daytime and reflective clothing after dark or in adverse weather will make you more visible. Reflectors and a light on your bicycle, and a flashlight or headlight if you walk or ride at night, are essential.
- Avoid blind spots: Avoid moving directly in front, behind or on either side of trucks or buses because these are blind spots where the driver cannot see you. Although some say if you can see the driver in the side mirror, he or she can also see you, it is safer to assume that the driver is unaware of you.
- Long stopping distances: Be aware that buses and trucks cannot make instant stops. They need longer distances than smaller vehicles to come to a halt, and crossing in front of them or cutting in too soon after passing on a bicycle can have devastating consequences.
- Extra turn space: Large vehicles need extra space to make a right turn at an intersection, and holding back from proceeding until their turn is complete can help avoid catastrophic accidents.
- Avoid distractions: Distractions can be as hazardous when walking or cycling as distracted driving. Listening to music with headphones along with talking, texting or gaming on a mobile device can put yourself and others at risk.
- Obey traffic laws: Avoid riding your bicycle against the flow of traffic, and obey stop signs and red lights, and if you are walking, obey traffic signals and cross only at crosswalks and intersections. Never assume that any other driver will yield for you, even if you have the right of way.
- Avoid riding or walking while impaired: Arrange a safe ride after consuming alcohol. Drunk walking or cycling can be as dangerous as drunk driving.
A helmet could provide additional protection when you ride your bicycle, and making sure your bike is in good repair is essential. Both pedestrians and bicyclists must also take care in parking lots and at gas stations where trucks or buses might back up unexpectedly.
What are your rights in the event of an accident?
Despite your best efforts to stay safe, a negligent truck or bus driver might cause you harm. Mounting medical bills could overwhelm you, and chances are that your injuries may be severe because of your limited protection from impact. Your inability to return to work might also cause further anxiety. During this trying time, you most likely could benefit from the skills of an experienced Oklahoma personal injury attorney who can fight to pursue the maximum amount of damages to which you are entitled.