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Cars and bikes: sharing the road safely in Massachusetts

Just as there are rules of the road and many different laws for motorists in Massachusetts, there are also rules for pedestrians and bicyclists. Everyone who uses local roadways is tasked with using them in a manner conducive to the general safety of others. When these rules are obeyed, things tend to run smoothly in Worcester, Boston and beyond. All it takes, though, is one driver ignoring the law in order for car collisions or pedestrian accidents to occur.

For bicyclists, a distracted driver or negligent driver can be an extremely dangerous or deadly threat. For their own safety, bicyclists should - according to the Massachusetts driving manual - keep off of roadways where signs prohibiting bicycles have been posted, be courteous of pedestrians when using sidewalks and stay to the right when passing cars traveling in the road. Also, before stopping or turning, the state advises bicyclists to signal their intention with one of their hands.

Local commuters have probably seen cyclists making these hand signals before; just as with car turn signals, they may seem to be an insignificant gesture but in reality could save a life. For their part, when traveling near bicyclists, drivers must not return to the right side of the road too quickly when they are passing a cyclist; they must wait until they have fully overtaken the bike before shifting right again otherwise a car accident may result. Likewise, drivers should also avoid the temptation to make quick right turns when a bicyclist is in the area, as someone on a bike going straight can be in the direct path of a vehicle turning right into an intersection or driveway.

In the same vein, all drivers must be extremely aware when making a left turn. Drivers who fail to yield when making a left turn can strike a motorcycle, bike, pedestrian or other car very easily. Finally, when drivers and bicyclists are both traveling straight ahead, drivers can put everyone in danger by passing the cyclist when the lane is too narrow. While it may require some patience, waiting until there is truly enough room to pass can prevent a hassle, an injury or even a life from being taken.

While these are all important points to keep in mind while operating a vehicle, following every safety tip does not always guarantee an accident will not occur. If an unfortunate accident happens, the cause may be the negligence of another party. In such cases, seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney can help form a solid plan of legal action.

Source: Massachusetts Driver's Manual, "Rules of the road," (p. 29) accessed Dec. 27, 2015

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