Riding a bike is one of the best ways to get from place to place, particularly in Florida, where gorgeous weather and scenery abound. Unfortunately, bike riding can often be dangerous — especially in the Sunshine State, which routinely ranks among the top states for bike accidents in the country.
There are a number of laws that exist to help keep Florida cyclists safe. These include laws regarding the use of headlights. Following these rules can help protect you — and may even prevent an accident.
Whether you are an avid bicyclist or only ride occasionally, it is important to know and understand the requirements for bike lights in Florida. Beyond that, you should take common-sense precautions to avoid being in an accident. If you have been injured in a bike crash, a bike accident lawyer in Miami can help.
Florida Law on Bike Lights
In Florida, bicycles are considered vehicles. If you are going to ride on the roads within the state, you must obey basic laws and regulations. Failing to do so could not only lead to a citation — but it could also lead to an accident.
The basic rule for cyclists in Florida is that you must have specific types of lighting on your bike if it is ridden between sunset and sunrise. Under the law, the following bike lights are required during this time period:
- Front lamp: this lamp must project a white light that can be seen from a minimum of 500 feet away.
- Rear lamp: this lamp must project red light that can be seen from a distance of 600 feet or greater.
- Red reflector: this reflector must be placed on the rear of the bicycle and exhibit red light that is visible from a minimum distance of 600 feet.
If you violate this law, a law enforcement officer may issue a verbal warning, along with a bicycle safety brochure, or may issue a citation and fine. If you show proof that you have purchased and installed proper lights on your bike, the court may dismiss the charge for a first-time offense.
While Florida specifies the kind of lights that must be on your bike if you ride in low light conditions, it does not prohibit the addition of extra lights. For example, you may want to put lights on the wheels of your bike or otherwise add lights to increase visibility when biking at night.
How to Bike Safely in Florida
The laws regarding bike lights at night were enacted for a reason. Riding your bike after dark is particularly dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 857 cyclists killed in traffic accidents in 2018, including 125 in Florida alone (the top state for bike fatalities). The majority of bike fatalities occur at night, with 21% occurring between 6:00 p.m. to 8:59 p.m., and 17% happening between 9:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.
Bicycle lights help to avoid the possibility of fatal or serious crashes in two ways. First, the front headlight illuminates the road before you, allowing you to spot and then avoid any hazards. Second, bike lights make you more visible to others on the road, reducing the risk that you will be hit simply because a driver does not see you.
If you are a bicyclist, you should take the following precautions whenever you ride:
- Always wear a helmet. Not only is it required for anyone under the age of 16, it is a smart idea. Helmets can significantly reduce the possibility of being seriously injured or killed in a crash.
- If you are biking in low light conditions, make sure that your bike is equipped with the appropriate lights and reflects, and that they are in working order.
- Wear reflective gear and/or bright colors to make yourself more visible to others on the road.
- Obey all traffic control signals.
- Be alert to your surroundings, and keep both hands on your bike so that you can brake if necessary.
- Bike on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic.
- Do not pass on the right.
- Learn and use hand signals.
- Do not ride your bike during a storm.
- Use bike lanes when possible.
While you cannot prevent others from driving carelessly, taking these steps may help to reduce the risk of being hit by a vehicle or otherwise being in a crash.
Questions? We’re Here to Help.
A bike accident can lead to life-changing injuries or even death. If you have been in a bicycle collision, a skilled bike accident lawyer in Miami can help you get the compensation that you deserve. This may include damages for past and future medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Kaire & Heffernan is dedicated to helping Floridians who have been injured in all types of accidents, including bike crashes. Established in 1997, our firm works hard to help victims of personal injury accidents get the money that they deserve for their injuries. we focus our practice on all types of personal injury claims. Contact us today at 305-372-0123 or email us to schedule a free initial consultation.