Bicycle Accidents on the Rise Across the United States
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, bicyclists face some of the most troubling accident statistics on the roadway. After reaching an all-time low in 2010, United States bicycle fatalities have been steadily on the rise. 2015 saw the largest increase in bicycle fatalities in two decades. After any bicycle accident, injury victims have legal rights which must be protected. It is also important to hold negligent drivers responsible for their dangerous conduct.
The Many Causes of Bicycle Fatalities
Beyond simply reporting bicycle accident rates, the Governors Highway Safety Association has also analyzed the data to identify risk factors which contribute to these accidents. The demographic data indicates that adults constitute 88% of fatality victims, and are therefore more likely than children to be fatally injured in an accident between a bicycle and a motor vehicle. Men are also six times more likely than women to die in a bicycle crash. Interestingly, the gender differential has been constant since it was first reported in 1975.
In the majority of accidents, a motor vehicle driver failed to identify the bicyclist. Bicyclists are more likely to see the motor vehicle before a collision, but expect the driver to yield the right of way. This demonstrates the importance of attentiveness to roadway conditions - an attentiveness which must be shared by all roadway users.
Alcohol is another factor which contributes to bicycle accidents. While alcohol impairment has decreased among bicycle accidents, it has not declined as quickly as alcohol use among drivers. This indicates that the effective media campaigns and advocacy efforts of drunk driving opponents have yet to reach the bicyclist population. Like motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists must accept personal responsibility for avoiding both impairment and distractions while on the road.
Bicycle Safety Tips
The best way to protect cyclists is to prevent bicycle accidents altogether. Follow these safety tips to reduce your chances of being involved in a bicycle accident:
- Make sure your bike is in safe working condition prior to taking a ride. Wear a helmet and other protective gear to reduce the injuries that are sustained in an accident.
- Bikes are smaller and more difficult for drivers to see. Use flashers or bell as necessary to help drivers see you. Pay particular attention when riding through parking lots, as drivers have diverted their attention to the task of reversing their vehicles.
- Watch carefully for obstructions in the road. Being smaller and lighter than cars, bicycles are more susceptible to debris in the road.
- Slow down! The best way to avoid a collision is to allow enough time to react to obstructions, traffic, and other road conditions.
- Avoid making fast lane changes or other abrupt maneuvers. The more unpredictable your movements, the more difficult it is for drivers to avoid a collision.
- Don’t get distracted by technology. If your bicycle trip is bringing you to an unfamiliar area, be sure to review your route ahead of time, so you aren’t distracted by navigation systems while on the road.
If you or a loved one has been struck by a motor vehicle while riding their bicycles, you can protect your legal rights by contacting a Rockville personal injury attorney.