The recent fatal bicycle accident in Ionia Township where an SUV drove into 5 bicyclists who were participating in the Wish-a-Mile Bicycle Tour highlights the urgent need for greater protection for bicyclists. In 2021, fatal bike accidents in Michigan were up 38% from 2019.
The Wish-a-Mile bicyclists – two of whom were killed and three of whom were critically injured – were doing everything right. These were skilled riders. They wore bright clothing. They were following the traffic safety laws. But none of this proved enough to keep them out of harm’s way. [Disclosure: The family of one of the Wish-a-Mile bicyclists who was killed in this crash has already retained our law firm to help them].
Specifically, with this fatal bicycle accident in Ionia Township, what was not within the power of the Wish-a-Mile bicyclists was a woman who was operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance (which is also a 15-year felony). Early reports are that she completely failed to see the bicyclists.
As an auto accident and bicycle accident lawyer, I have helped dozens of bicyclists and their families over the past 30 years, and sadly the facts of this deadly tragedy are not unique. The common theme in most of my bike accident cases is that the driver of a car fails to see the person on the bicycle. There are many reasons for this, and I’ve written about the human factors that play a role in most bike accidents previously. That is not the intent of this writing today. Instead, it is to state the obvious: with the huge spike in bicycle accident deaths that we’ve seen over the past 2 years in this state, it’s time we do more to protect bicycle riders.
The fatal bicycle accident in Ionia Township is another instance that lawmakers need to step up and take action to protect bicyclists, the most vulnerable travelers on Michigan roads.
More needs to be done to prevent another tragedy like the fatal bicycle accident in Ionia Township
There are reasonable, effective steps that lawmakers can take right now to prevent another fatal bicycle accident like the recent tragedy in Ionia Township:
- Michigan lawmakers can take up and pass Senate Bills 580 and 581 and House Bills 5181 and 5182 which have been pending – with no action taken – in the Senate and House since June 2021. If enacted, negligent drivers like the one who caused the fatal bicycle accident in Ionia Township, would be held accountable with increased penalties injuring or killing “vulnerable roadway users,” which include bicyclists, pedestrians and people using wheelchairs or transportation devices. Under the bills, injuring a bicyclist would be a misdemeanor that could result in jail time up to one year and/or a fine of $1,000. Causing a bicyclist or other “vulnerable roadway user” to suffer a “serious injury requiring inpatient treatment at a hospital or post-acute rehabilitation facility” would be a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Finally, a driver who kills a bicyclist or other vulnerable roadway user would be guilty of a felony and could be sent to prison for up to 15 years and/or required to pay a fine up to $7,500.
- Congressional lawmakers can keep the pressure on auto manufacturers to ensure they deliver on the task they were assigned in 2021’s federal infrastructure legislation: Develop and employ technology that will “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”
- State and federal lawmakers can urge NHTSA and auto manufacturers to require and install “Cyclist-automatic emergency braking” systems. Arguably, had these been in place today, the fatal bicycle accident in Ionia Township and many others across Michigan and the country may never have occurred.
- State and federal lawmakers, the Michigan Department of Transportation and county and local road commissions must reevaluate their road designs because as the increase in bicyclist deaths show vulnerable roadway users are the ones paying the cost of keeping traffic moving quickly.
Were you injured in a bike crash in Michigan? Speak to an experienced attorney today at Michigan Auto Law
If you were injured in or if you lost a loved one in a fatal bicycle accident in Michigan and you have questions about your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and auto No-Fault insurance benefits, which are often available in a bicycle accident whether you have No-Fault insurance or not, you can speak to an experienced bicycle accident lawyer at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced No-Fault insurance attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.