What is a Right Hook Accident?
If you or somebody you love is a regular bicycle rider in Seattle, then you know there are risks in and around the roadways. While most bicycle riders take steps to be safe on the roadway, there are many types of accidents that can harm bicyclists, and one of those is called a “right hook accident.”
Understanding right hook accidents
A right hook is not just a term used in boxing. It is used in bicycling to describe a dangerous type of accident that can cause serious harm to a cyclist. Typically, right hooks occur when a motorist passes a bicyclist and then turns right onto another street.
This type of accident happens when a bicyclist and a vehicle are heading in the same direction (whether the bicyclist is on the roadway, in a bike lane, or on the sidewalk) and they are both approaching an intersection, side street, driveway, or parking lot. Right hooks occur when the vehicle driver wants to turn right, makes the turn, but collides with the cyclist who is riding through the intersection, street, or driveway entrance.
Most vehicle drivers forget about bicyclists on the roadway as soon as they pass them. A driver likely does not think that they need to worry about the cyclist as they are making a right-hand turn, but bicycles are faster than most people think. When a driver slows down to make a turn, it is easy for a forgotten bicyclist to catch up to the driver making the turn.
This can also happen when a bicycle rider tries to pass a slower car on the right, but the driver of the vehicle makes a sudden right-hand turn into the bike.
What if there is a bike lane?
Bike lanes can often provide a sense of false security for cyclists. In many cases, drivers are actually required to merge their cars into the bike lane before they make a right-hand turn. This can prove to be disastrous if the bicyclist or driver is not paying attention and can lead to a right hook accident.
Merging into a bike lane usually requires the driver to signal and make sure that they are clear to make the move. Once the vehicle is in the bike lane, cyclists should slow down and wait for the vehicle to turn right or pass the vehicle on the left.
Right hook accidents can cause serious injuries
Bicycle accidents are particularly devastating for riders. Even when wearing a helmet, bicyclists have very little protection from the force of a vehicle slamming into them. According to the Washington Department of Transportation, there were 1,386 total bicycle accidents reported during the latest year in the state. Out of those, there were:
- 132 suspected serious injuries
- 570 suspected minor injuries
- 570 possible injuries
- 15 fatalities
It is not uncommon for a bicyclist to sustain serious injuries as a result of these accidents, including the following:
- Spinal cord trauma
- Open head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Severe lacerations or road rash
Riders should not let their guard down when approaching an intersection, street, driveway, or parking lot where a vehicle might make a right-hand turn. Even if a right hook accident happens at slower speeds, a bicyclist can still be seriously injured, particularly if they are pinned under the vehicle.