A bicyclist died in a collision with a pickup truck on Highway 98/Wake Forest Highway east of Durham, North Carolina (NC), on the morning of May 10, 2016. Details on the cause of the deadly wreck and the injuries that took the bike rider's life remain scarce, but high-speed traffic and a narrow shoulder for slower-moving vehicles and pedestrians appear to have set the stage for the tragedy.
The site of the bike-truck accident near the Martin Branch community is a two-lane, rural highway. Neighbors interviewed in the wake of the crash said that drivers go very fast on Highway 98, making conditions dangerous for bicyclists and people on foot. North Carolina laws, however, make it legal for bike riders to use the state route, banning nonmotorized two-wheelers only from interstates and sidewalks.
Because bikes are classified as street vehicles, drivers must be on the watch for bike riders even when traffic conditions and road design may not be friendly for bicycles. Drivers must pass bikes while leaving sufficient space. When leaving an adequate safety buffer is not possible, drivers following bike riders must reduce their speed.
Sideswiping a bike or hitting a bike rider from behind is very likely to inflict serious head trauma and traumatic brain injuries. Even a low-speed crash between a car or truck and a bike can leave the rider disabled from massive physical injuries simply because the rider has no protection.
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our deepest condolences to the friends and family members of the bicyclist who lost his life on Highway 98 outside of Durham. We also want to ask every driver to share the road cautiously and considerately.