In South Carolina last year, a car turned left suddenly in front of a cyclist on a busy street. The cyclist could not stop in time, and the biker flipped over onto the ground.
When the driver and the cyclist appeared before a judge, the driver refused to take responsibility for the accident, which is quite common in these mishaps. In this case, however, the biker had a camera mounted on his bike and had the entire accident recorded.
The cyclist simply handed the judge a video of the wreck. The judge watched it and declared the driver guilty. The fine was only for failure to yield, but this case shows that affordable video cameras are making it easier to hold a dangerous driver accountable for hitting a biker.
According to a 2013 study of 633 biker deaths over a year, the League of American Bicyclists determined that just 45% of the cases had any evidence of legal enforcement, and only 12% of the drivers were sentenced.
These cameras are offering some hope for the future. If a biker is killed in an accident, the camera may be the only witness to the crime. Or, a person with serious injuries may not remember what happened. Even when the cyclist can recount all of the details of the accident, it can be tough to prove in court.
Video evidence is also being used in some bike accidents to get the driver’s insurance company to pay damages. It is not clear at this time how much the cameras will help in criminal cases, but there is no doubt that bike cameras are helping to hold more drivers accountable.
As Virginia car accident attorneys, we hope that the wide availability of inexpensive video cameras, such as the Go Pro, will help to reduce accidents with bicyclists. In a recent year, at least 11 people in Virginia were killed in bicycle accidents, and most of them were the driver’s fault. And while many people in bike accidents survive, they often have severe injuries that can plague them for life.
In the worst bike accident cases where the driver was at fault, at least the grieving family can sue to driver for damage in a wrongful death suit and usually win very large settlements.