Earlier this year, the family of a 6-year-old Apopka boy received the news that is a parent’s worst nightmare: Their son had been killed. He had been riding his bike in an Orange County neighborhood one Sunday afternoon in January when a 50-year-old driver struck him. The boy had been riding in the street and then, for reasons unclear, rode out into the street.
Bicycle accident fatalities are a major problem in Florida – and it’s not just children who are losing their lives, though they do account for about a fifth of the total. However, the average age of bicycle crash victims between 2006 and 2015 rose from 41 to 45.
Recent figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate there were a total of 808 bicycle deaths in 2015, accounting for 2.3 percent of all traffic deaths throughout the year. That’s an 12.3 percent increase over 2014, when there were 726 bicyclists killed, accounting for 2 percent of all traffic deaths.
Approximately 70 percent of all bicyclists who died in crashes with motor vehicles lost their lives in an urban area.
In addition to the more than 800 people killed in bicycle accidents that year, the federal safety agency reports 45,000 bicyclists were injured in crashes. These injuries included:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Fractured bones
- Ruptured or damaged internal organs
- Facial injuries
Some of these left riders totally and permanently disabled. Perhaps the one bit of silver lining is that there were about 10 percent fewer bicyclists injured that year, down from 50,000 in 2014.
Keep in mind: These incidents do not include those that did not involve a motor vehicle. However, as our bicycle accident attorneys can explain, sometimes those incidents involve negligence too, usually some type of premises liability (i.e., failure to properly maintain a road or address a dangerous condition on a bike path) or product liability (a defective bicycle).
Of those fatal bike crashes that did involve vehicles:
- 318 – passenger cars
- 352 – light trucks (this included sport utility vehicles, pickups and vans)
- 53 – large trucks
- 9 – bus
- 51 – other/ unknown
In looking just at Florida, we had a total of 2,940 fatal traffic crashes in 2015. Of those, 150 were bicyclists. That’s an 8 percent increase over the year before, and is also higher than anywhere else in the country – including California, which has double the population and reported 129 bicyclist deaths. The only other state that even came close was Texas, with 50.
Further, bicycle accident deaths accounted for 5.1 percent of our total traffic deaths that year. Remember, nationally it accounts for 2.3 percent. Florida’s percentage was No. 2 only to Vermont, for which bicycle deaths accounted for 7 percent of all traffic fatalities. However, the total number of bicycle deaths in that state? Four.
When researchers factored in population, Florida was still No. 1, though by a much narrower margin. There were 7.4 bicycle deaths per 1 million people in the Sunshine State. The state that ranked No. 2 on this list was Louisiana, which had a rate of 7.3 per 1 million. That state reported 34 bicycle deaths out of a total 726 traffic fatalities. Vermont was No. 3, with a rate of 6.4 bicycle deaths per 1 million people.
While these numbers shed valuable insight into bicycle accident risk factors, these are more than cold numbers. These are families. They are mothers, fathers, friends, children and neighbors. They and their loved ones deserve compensation for losses sustained by the carelessness of drivers.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Bicyclists and Other Cyclists, March 2017, NHTSA
More Blog Entries:
Broward Teen Run Over By City Bus Settles County Lawsuit for $850,000, Feb. 16, 2017, Orlando Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog