Bicycle Accidents Increase Due to Driver and Cyclist Actions
According to recent data, the number of bicyclists in the United States is growing, and rapidly according to some researchers. That’s good news when it comes to overall health and conservation as biking is a great way of keeping in shape and provides a cleaner, greener mode of transportation. However, not all cycling-related news is positive. After reviewing years of data, researchers note that bicyclists are in more danger today than in previous years.
Authorities Note Rise in Bicycle Accident Fatalities
A leading national newspaper was among the first to report the latest statistics on deaths as it relates to bicyclists across the country. The Wall Street Journal noted a recent biker death in Florida after a cyclist was involved in a crash with a vehicle that was traveling around 45 mph. Sad to say, the bicyclist didn’t have a chance to survive such an impact, and he’s not alone. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 840 bicyclists were killed in 2016, and as noted in The Wall Street Journal article, that makes 2016 the deadliest for bikers since 1991. In addition, the 2016 death toll amounted to a 35 percent increase since 2010.
The recent study delved a little deeper into the issue and reviewed bicycle accidents from 2007-2016 and then ranked states base on bike safety. Florida now ranks as the worst state in the nation when it comes to cyclist fatalities. Arizona is now ranked fourth in the nation for cyclists’ deaths when you figure per capita fatality rates. This doesn’t mean all is well in Colorado, however. The latest rankings show the state 14th in the nation when it comes to bike crashes and fatalities. So, what’s the cause for all the Colorado bicycle accidents, injuries, and deaths for bikers? Distracted driving and alcohol use. Researchers say both behaviors are not only killing bicyclists but vehicle passengers as well.
Avoid collisions by eliminating distractions and alcohol when driving.
Distraction and alcohol can kill, and yet, these two factors seem to be behind a majority of vehicle and bike crashes. According to the chief executive of the National Safety Council, Deborah Hersman, texting while driving is a huge problem. As Hersman notes, “Almost every state in the country has a texting ban, but we still find drivers are texting behind the wheel.” Common sense should prevent drivers from looking away from the road to check their devices, but accidents still persist, especially at intersections and crossways.
Alcohol use is also a huge factor when it comes to accidents and fatalities, and in this case, it’s not just among those who are driving a vehicle; bicyclists are also peddling after consuming alcohol. In 2015, 22% of cyclists fatally injured in crashes had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher; 12% of the motorists involved in those crashes also had a BAC of .08 or higher. In other words, many accidents between a bicyclist and vehicle are due to either the biker or the driver being under the influence of alcohol. Again, these two actions, texting and alcohol, are preventable factors when it comes to crashes. Drivers need to put their phone down, and both vehicle drivers and bicyclists need to refrain from drinking if they plan on driving or biking.
Cities across this country are actively looking at ways to better protect bicyclists, either by designating more bike lanes or reviewing traffic flow on major streets to see if there is anything that can be done to better protect those on bikes. Changes will come, but they won’t come overnight. In the meantime, cyclists must obey traffic laws, wear a helmet and clothing that aids in visibility, and, refrain from being distracted. Their life depends on it.