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Some North Carolina Bicycle Laws Require Clarification
Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but what happens when the law is unclear — or doesn’t exist at all? When no laws apply to a given situation, bicyclists may have an easier time fighting a traffic citation. Still, in the event that riders sustain injuries in traffic accidents when the law makes liability unclear, they may find themselves battling legal issues when seeking much-deserved compensation.
Our Charlotte bike accident attorneys understand that bike accident injuries can be debilitating and we know how to help protect our clients’ rights in these situations.
When the Law is Unclear, Bicyclists Should Take Extra Precautions
In North Carolina, bicycles officially carry the legal status of vehicles, subjecting riders to the same rules that govern motor vehicles. There are also certain additional laws specific to bicycles. Unfortunately, even the Department of Transportation (DOT) recognizes that the law fails to clearly address the following situations:
• Interstate or Highway Use: While bicycles are generally prohibited on these roadways based on policy, the Department of Transportation has the option of permitting bicycle use on specific roads. Currently, only one US17 bridge represents an exception to this policy, but this allowance can expand at any time.
• Formation of Two or More Bicycles: North Carolina law fails to specify that bikers need to ride single file, but it does not specifically grant the right to ride two or more alongside each other.
• Use of Headphones: While the DOT does not recommend the use of headphones while riding, no law currently prohibits their use.
Unfortunately, each of these situations can easily affect the safety of bicyclists.
Riders Should Err on the Side of Caution
Riding on an unprotected vehicle opens bicyclists up to the risk of severe injury in the event of an accident. That being the case, our serious accident attorneys advise riders to exceed the requirements of the law. Motor vehicle drivers may not be fully aware of the laws involving bicycles, and when an accident occurs, being right is of little comfort during an ambulance ride to the hospital.
If cars cannot easily pass bikes riding two or three alongside each other, those riders can be injured or killed. Of course, even the most cautious bicyclists can become involved in serious accidents caused by negligent drivers at any time.