Cycling is not only environmentally friendly, it also helps to reduce traffic congestion. These are only two of the many reasons that so many cities have created protected areas and bike lanes that encourage people to ride safely. Further, California passed the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” requiring motorists to observe at least three feet of distance when driving alongside or passing a cyclist.
Even when protections such as these are in place, accidents involving cyclists happen. Statistics even show that the number of accidents involving bicyclists are rising. As a result, it should be no surprise that the greatest threat to cyclists are larger vehicles, but that’s not all. This article will outline five of the most potent threats every cyclist faces. Anyone who has found themselves on the short end of an accident should contact an injury lawyer.
By now, everyone knows there is a lot competing for a driver’s attention. Even for cyclists, riding while distracted is a huge problem. Regardless, everyone on the road has a duty to pay full attention to their driving.
Unfortunately, even with laws on the books that attempt to curtail driving while texting and phone use, people do it. In fact, according to a study done by ATT, more than 61 percent of drivers admitted to driving and texting. One-third admitted to checking their email, and 17 percent even admitted taking a selfie—called a steering-wheel selfie—while driving. One in 10 drivers admitting to engaging in video chatting while driving.
Alcohol isn’t something that most people think of when they think of bicycle accidents, but it’s a real thing. According to a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 37 percent of cyclist accident deaths involve alcohol.
According to a 2017 NHTSA report, more than 20 percent of fatal accidents involved cyclists with a blood/alcohol level of .08g/dL or greater. An estimated 16 percent of fatal crashes included a cyclist with a blood/alcohol level of .08g/dL or greater.
There are many states that have gotten into the act of enacting helmet laws, for both adults and children, but many cyclists have still not gotten the word. Helmets in these areas is required. And even where laws don’t make it mandatory, helmets can still save lives.
The studies on helmet use are clear. According to one in particular, it was shown that bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by as much as 60 percent. They also reduce brain injury risk by 58 percent.
Observe the Traffic Laws
Many cyclists believe that they are pedestrians, and as such are guided by those laws. This is not correct. A bicycle is a vehicle, and as such, a cyclist is a vehicle operator, subject to the same responsibilities and rights as are the drivers of motor vehicles. Cyclists must obey the laws as they pertain to driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. They must also obey all traffic signals, such as shopping at red lights and observing lanes and other markings. Cyclists must also make sure to yield the right of way to pedestrians.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics shows that non-fatal cycling injuries are actually on a downward trend, but there are still entirely too many, as there are still a total of 289,076 injuries nationwide. With all this, the message should be very clear: obey the law and the chances are good that you will be safer for it.