However, most roadways do not have bicycle lanes and combined with inexperienced bicyclists, or those who fail to follow basic traffic laws, bicycle accidents and fatalities are inevitable. In Florida, the accident rate is alarming.
Florida had the highest bicycle fatality rate in 2008 with 125, more than twice the number of the next nearest state, Arkansas, with 53. Florida is a highly urban state with warm weather most of the year, so more bicyclists are apt to be on the road over the course of the year than in many other states.
Increasing Awareness and Safety
Most bicycle accidents involve a motor vehicle and a bicycle and both driver and riders can do their part to help reduce the number of accidents. Motorists need to be more cognizant of those with whom they share the road. Since many accidents occur when the driver is making a right turn, drivers need to look over their right shoulders to be sure the space is clear before executing their turns. Bicycles are sharing the roadways and “seeing” a rider is the first step in reducing accidents and injuries.
Bicyclists also need to exercise caution while riding and to obey the traffic laws. Bicyclists are considered motor vehicle operators as far as adhering to the traffic laws, which means stopping at red lights and stop signs. Bicyclists can be ticketed for not doing so.
Additionally, bicyclists should wear helmets and light or reflective clothing if riding at night. A light on a helmet or bike is a necessity, as is not riding on the wrong side of the road. Many accidents occur at night, when visibility is low, and motorists can be fatigued, intoxicated or in a hurry to get home.
Bicyclists, like motorcyclists, are less visible or noticeable to motorists because of their small size. They should always assume that a motorist does not see them and should wait for a car or truck to pass before overtaking the vehicle or be sure the motorist has seen them. Stopping at red lights and stop signs is not only the law, but also mandatory to increase a bicyclist’s safety.
Motorists and bicyclists both need to exercise special caution at intersections. If a driver has seen bicyclists on the road before intending to turn, he or she must take steps to be more cautious. Only when both parties display common sense and obey traffic safety laws can bicycle accidents and fatalities be minimized.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011