Peter Thompson banner

Failure to Yield to the Bicyclist’s Right of Way

Failing to yield to a bicyclist’s right of way is a common driving mistake that can lead to serious and even fatal results. Failure to yield typically stems from a driver’s pure ignorance as to the traffic laws concerning to bicyclists, but can also occur when a driver is in a hurry, distracted, or driving aggressively. Failure to yield bicycle accidents generally occur at intersections. Although intersections form only a small part of the cyclist’s travel route, they are the most dangerous portion of the journey. By some estimates, 45% of all accidents between bicycles and motor vehicles take place in intersections.

Determining Fault in the Event of a Car/Bike Accident

Under Maine law, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and expected to follow most of the same laws as other motorists. Bicyclists are expected to observe stop signs, red lights, one-way streets, yield right-of-way, signal turns, and the like. Accordingly, when a collision occurs between a bike and a car at an intersection, liability will largely be determined by who had the right of way.

Right-of-way: No traffic signals

Generally, when a vehicle and a bicycle approach an uncontrolled intersection, or one without a stop sign or traffic signals, the “vehicle” (bike or car) who arrived first will have the right of way. This is also the rule for vehicles approaching intersections with a stop sign. However, if the intersection is a T-intersection, where a minor street meets a major one, the traffic on the major street has the right of way. In all of these instances, the bicyclist is treated as a motorist.

Right-of-way: Traffic signals

Traffic signals control the right of way at intersections, but sometimes the signal sensor is unable to detect the bicycle. In this case, the bicycle can attempt moving closer to the sensor embedded in the roadway. If this still does not work, the cyclist can wait until it is safe to cross against the light or cross at the crosswalk.

Cars Turning Left: The “Left Cross”

One of the most common failure to yield incidents occurs when the motorist and bicyclist approach the intersection from opposite directions and, as they enter the intersection, the motorists turns left, crashing into the cyclist. Often, the motorist did not see the cyclist or misjudged the cyclist’s speed. This accident, termed the “left cross,” can result in serious harm to the cyclist, for which the negligent motorist can be liable.

Peter Thompson & Associates: Holding Negligent Drivers Accountable for Failing to Yield

At Peter Thompson & Associates, we assist injured bicycle accident victims in obtaining the recovery they deserve from negligent motorists whose failure to yield leads to serious injuries. Peter Thompson & Associates has successfully handled hundreds of bike accident cases involving the failure to yield, obtaining substantial verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients located throughout Maine. Call our firm of professional bike accident attorneys today at 1 (800) 804-2004 to schedule an initial consultation.