In the state of Florida, Traffic Crash Statistics reveal that there were 4,925 bicycle crashes in 2010.
This was a 3.16 percent increase in the number of accidents when compared to the 4,774 crashes that occurred in 2009. The number of bicyclists injured also went up by 3.95 percent from 2009 to 2010, with 4,376 injuries in 2009 and 4,600 injuries the following year. Only the number of deaths went down and the decline was significant, with around 25 percent fewer people dying in 2010. Still 76 bicyclists were killed over the whole year that year as compared with 99 riders the year before.
While there were fewer bike rider deaths in Florida in 2011, our Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorneys know that Florida still remains one of the most dangerous states for bicycle riders. Many riders are aware of this and some are even deterred from riding as a result. On the website of the Florida Bicycle Association, for example, the bike coordinator indicated that fear of motorists was one of the most common deterrents to bicycle riders.
It is natural to be afraid of drivers who may be taking dangerous and unnecessary chances on the road that put bicycle riders at risk. However, riders shouldn’t let concerns over driver behavior prevent them from doing an activity they enjoy. Both bike riders and drivers of motor vehicles have an important role to play in making the streets safer for bike riders, in reducing injuries and in reducing fear. If drivers and bicycle riders both made a commitment to making smart choices and respecting each other, this would have a significant impact on road safety and would improve life for everyone.
Tips for Bicycle Riders and Drivers to Stay Safe
Bicycle riders can take certain steps to make an accident less likely and to protect themselves from the most serious of injuries in the event that an accident does occur. For example, bicycle riders should:
- Check the bike, including the air and brakes, before each ride to make sure it is in good repair.
- Wear comfortable cloths that you can ride easily in and that will not get caught in the pedals or spokes of the bike.
- Wear a helmet every time you ride.
- Try to avoid heavily trafficked areas especially if those areas are lacking in a sidewalk or a safe place to ride a bicycle. For purely recreational riding, using trails and areas away from cars is a great way to take an extra step to safety. If you use your bike for transportation and need to go places, you should consider your route carefully in advance to try to find the most bike-friendly way to travel.
- Wear bright colored clothing and use a light at night. This can help drivers to notice you so they don’t hit you.
- Use appropriate hand signals to alert drivers to your intentions, follow the rules of the road, don’t speed and don’t fail to yield the right-of-way when it is not your turn.
These rules can help bicycle riders to stay safer and can reduce the chances of a crash. However, drivers have some safety steps to take too. For example, drivers of passenger cars should refrain from doing anything that could put a bike rider at risk including speeding; distracted driving; drunk driving; tailgating or failing to yield the right-of-way. By avoiding these risky behaviors, hopefully bicyclists will be a little bit safer this spring and summer as they enjoy their bicycles.
Call Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
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