With rises in gas prices, and with people becoming more environmentally conscious, the number of bicyclists has been increasing in recent years. And the number is even higher in urban areas. But an increase in bikers has inevitably seen an increase in biker-related traffic accidents. For example, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that about 630 bicyclists were killed in accidents with cars or trucks in 2009, and about 50,000 bicyclists were injured.
With such high rates of bicycle traffic accidents, it is important for bicyclists and automobile drivers alike to have a heightened awareness about the circumstances that often lead to collisions. Here are some of the most common forms of accidents involving cars and bicycles:
A driver makes a left or right turn into a biker’s path, often without signaling or checking for a biker.
A driver parks his or her car, opens their door without checking first, and obstructs the path of a bicyclist. This often referred to as “dooring.”
A biker breaks a traffic law; for example, running a red light or ignoring a stop sign.
There are also issues which tend to harm bicyclists and not cars. They include:
Potholes and other defects in the road
Debris, including trash, and rubble from roadwork or lawn care
Untended trees which hang into a biker’s path or block a biker’s view of traffic indicators
In addition to knowing about common accidents, it is wise for bicyclists to understand the measures they can take to enhance their safety. Here are some tips and facts which can help to increase a bicyclist’s safety:
Wearing reflective clothing. This can be especially useful at night.
Never riding a bike while intoxicated.
Adhering to all traffic rules, even those designed for automobiles. Not speeding is especially important. In an accident case, a biker who was riding too fast can be found just as irresponsible as a driver exceeding the speed limit.
Use of reflectors and puncture-resistant tires on one’s bike is mandatory in most states.
Use of front lights and tail lights.
The most important aspect of bicycle safety is the helmet. For most, it goes without saying that a helmet can save a biker’s life. A surprising study by NHTSA says that only about 35 percent of bicyclists wear a helmet. Couple this statistic with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s report that 91 percent of bicyclists killed in traffic accidents were not wearing helmets, and the importance of a helmet becomes self-evident.
For information on some of the most common injuries associated with bicycle accidents, see the links below:
For more information on bicycle accidents in Philadelphia, please see the article “5 Important Ways You Can Avoid a Bicycling Accident.” And for information about local biking laws, see the article “What to Know About Pennsylvania Bicycle Laws.” These articles and more can be found in the personal injury law articles section of this website. Take a look around: we guarantee you’ll learn something!