A right hook is the name given to the most common type of bicycle accident in New Orleans. A right hook occurs when a vehicle makes a right turn and collides with a bicycle who continues to travel straight. This often happens at intersections where a bicycle rider is traveling straight in a bicycle lane and the vehicle making a right turn crosses the bicycle lane. Often times vehicle operators are not on the lookout for riders approaching from the rear. This can have disastrous results causing death or serious injuries.
If a vehicle is making a right turn across a bike lane, it is their responsibility to check their mirrors and make sure they are not cutting off a bicycle rider and that the bicycle lane is clear. If the bike is legally in the bike lane going straight, it has the right of way. Many drivers may feel it is the responsibility of the bike rider to watch out for them, but this is not what the law says. The driver must treat the turn as if they were cutting across a lane of traffic. Under Louisiana law bicycles and cars are treated the same in most cases including right hook accidents. The initiative is on vehicle operators to learn to share the road with bicycles, who have as much of a right to be on the road as motor vehicles.
Bicycle riders and vehicle operators can both do their part to prevent a right hook. Bicycle riders can be sure to obey the rules of the road, specifically to stop at red lights where cars are likely to be making right turns. Vehicle operators need to be sure and check their rear view and side mirrors and be on the look out for bicycles riding parallel to them. Bicycle riders may even choose to pull into the vehicle lane when approaching intersections, even though they are not required to do so. By doing this, riders take themselves out of the path of any right turning vehicle. Following these steps can put an end to needless right hook accidents. The responsibility is more important for the driver due to the disproportionate level of injuries suffered by those on bicycles compared with those in cars. The biker is exposed and vulnerable while the driver is more protected, larger, faster and heavier.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a right hook accident, it was likely the fault of the motor vehicle operator. Lambert Zainey represents bicycle accident victims, call today for a free case evaluation.