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Florida Leads The Nation In Bicycle Deaths

Florida contains a vast network of biking trails that are used 12 months out of the year by recreational and long-distance cyclists alike. Florida also has one of the largest populations of people who use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, per capita. Many of the public transportation commuter buses in Florida are even equipped with bike racks to accommodate bicycle riders as they make their way around town, go out for fun, or cycle to work. Bicycle riding by adults is continuing to increase in the state as the population swells and the weather remains ideal for the activity.

But it’s not all good news. The national average for deaths and injuries from a bicycle accident remains high in the US. In 2014, 726 people died as a result of a fatal crash sustained on a bicycle while 50,000 people were seriously injured.

Is cycling around town more dangerous?

The overall answer is, no. Bicycle crashes account for just 2% of all traffic fatalities and bicycling, as a mode of transportation, only accounts for 1%. Obviously, with 700 fatalities a year, it can be dangerous, but it’s not any more or less dangerous than anything else. So there’s still a reason to get out there and ride [1].

But, how safe is riding a bicycle in Florida?

Bicyclists are twice as likely die on US roads than occupants of motor vehicles, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2]. Florida ranks first in the top ten states for bicycle fatalities with .57 deaths per 100,000 people. [3] In the Sunshine State, 120 people were killed on a bicycle in 2015. That’s 16.5% of all the bike fatalities in the nation. So, Florida is definitely a more dangerous place to ride. What contributes to it?

  • wide and fast roadways
  • lack of safety education
  • bad drivers
  • under-equipped bicyclists
  • yearlong riding weather
  • lagging infrastructure
  • out-of-date laws.

Some things are being done though. Apparently, those who have the ability to do something about it, like safety advocates, planners, lawmakers, and law enforcement agencies are trying to find solutions so these stats can be lowered.

Bicycle Accident Facts and Myths

Cyclists have as much right to the roadways as other drivers and vehicles. They are also required to obey the same traffic laws as other motorists.

It is a common misbelief that most bicycle crashes in Florida involve riders that ran stop signs or red lights or failed to stay in their lanes. However, the fact is that most are caused by the inattentiveness of drivers of other vehicles.

Another misconception is that the majority of bicycle crashes involve senior snow-birds that flood the roadways during the winter months, the same time that there are also more cyclists on the road, out to enjoy the great weather. In fact, automobile drivers age 20 to 24 account for the highest percentage of bicycle crashes. The next highest percentage belongs to the age group between 45 and 49. This percentage drops significantly for drivers over 55, who hold the lowest percentage range of any other age group.

The Florida counties with the highest populations have the greatest number of crashes and fatalities, as one would expect. The top three are Miami-Dade County, Broward County and Hillsborough County. There are also a number of hotspots in Southwestern Florida, like Cape Coral, East Naples, Immokalee and Ft. Myers, according to a recent study by the News Press.

Who’s at risk?

  • The average age of bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles continues to rise, climbing to 45 years old in 2014, up from 39 in 2004, 32 in 1998, and 24 in 1988.
  • 88 percent of those killed were male.
  • 71 percent of bicyclist fatalities occurred in urban areas.
  • 20 percent of bicyclist fatalities occurred between 6 and 8:59 p.m.
  • 19 percent of bicyclists killed had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08% or higher.
  • In 35 percent of the crashes, either the driver or the bicyclist had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08% or higher.
  • Florida with 139, California with 128, and Texas with 50 lead the nation in the number of bicyclist fatalities.
  • Just two states, Rhode Island and Vermont, reported no fatalities in 2014. [4]

What can be done?

Motor vehicle-related bicycle crash injuries and deaths can be greatly reduced by implementing a combination of city planning changes, bicycle safety tips, and driver knowledge. The following list illustrates some of these points:

  • Improved bicycle infrastructure– This means improving things like the amount and quality of bicycle lanes and the number and length of bike trails, among other things. More information about what can be done for infrastructure can be found here.
  • Increasing driver awareness– Educating the public about cyclist and driver safety could do wonders to improve these statistics. Many people wrongly believe that bicyclist should stay out of the road and up on the sidewalk. In fact, it’s illegal. If drivers respected this, more lives would be saved.
  • Wearing of brighter clothing– Bicyclists ultimately have to take their own safety into their hands. Wearing brighter colors, which make visibility at night and during the day easier, is a simple step. Neon colors are the best since things in nature, and along roadways, are rarely these colors.
  • Increased helmet use– No doubt, helmets save lives. In fact, helmets have been shown to reduce risk of head injury by 85% [5]. In Florida, a helmet is not required by persons over 16, perhaps contributing to the high death rate.
  • Better lighting on bicycles– At night, it can be impossible to see a bicyclist until it is too late. When driving at night, automobile drivers rely on headlights to see other cars coming. If a cyclist does not use lights, there is no way for a driver to know they are there until they are very close.
  • Adhering strictly to traffic regulations– This goes for both drivers and cyclists. It is both parties responsibility to watch out for others and to follow all laws. Billions of dollars goes into traffic laws and control, with some of the best engineers working it all out. Heeding their “advice” could save a life.
  • Staying within bike lanes– Bike lanes are designed for cyclists to stay in and for drivers to stay out of. Keeping these two separate, and sticking with it, will limit the contact between drivers and cyclists.    [6]

When a bicycle is involved in a crash with a motor vehicle the outcome will never be favorable for the bike rider. Even an injury involving a parked car—like something called dooring where a driver opens their door, ejecting the cyclist—can cause serious harm. Injuries to cyclists commonly include traumatic brain injury even when a helmet is worn. The helmet may reduce the chances or the severity but it is not an absolute preventative measure. Other injuries include spinal injuries, fractured bones, internal injuries, severe abrasions and contusions.

Help for Injured Cyclists

At Dolman Law Group, our bicycle accident attorneys have successfully won large cash settlements on behalf of cyclists that were injured or wrongfully killed in crashes. If you or a loved one was injured—or you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another driver or a poorly maintained road/path—there may be monetary compensation available. Reach out to the bicycle injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group for a free evaluation of your case. We have the investigative resources that are necessary to determine the true cause of your accident. Unlike TV settlement mills who settle easily for quick profit, we will fight all the way through the court system, if necessary, to win you the true value of your case. At Dolman Law Group our main concern is for the welfare of our clients. Call us at (727) 451-6900 today for a free consultation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/bicycle-injury-attorneys/

References:

[1] https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812282
[2] http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/bicycle/
[3] http://www.tbo.com/news/politics/floridas-bike-death-rate-highest-in-nation-20150829/
[4] http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm
[5] http://www.bhsi.org/stats.htm
[6] http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/bicycle/