Bicycle Accidents Remain a Deadly Danger in Florida
In many parts of the country, people take the onset of winter weather as an indication that it’s time to hang up bicycles in the garage for at least a few months. In contrast, here in South Florida, as our Delray Beach personal injury team knows, the (relatively) cooler weather means that a bike ride is even more enjoyable than it might be in the brutal heat of the summer months. But, as we will explore in this blog post, South Floridians must be aware of the prevalent dangers of bike riding—including drastic consequences such as severe injury and death. Bike Accidents – How to Stay Safe and Avoid Injury.
The dangers continue to hit close to home, the most recent example coming in mid-December. According to the Sun-Sentinel, in the early hours of Thursday, December 21, 2017, a hit-and-run crash in Wilton Manors resulted in the death of a bicyclist. As the article notes, the incident occurred at around 7 AM near the intersection of Oakland Park Blvd. and Northeast 5th Ave. As our personal injury team at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, the bicyclist hit in the crash was pronounced dead at a local hospital less than an hour later.
From the Wilton Manors hit-and-run story, we can take away a number of theoretical, potential causes of the crash. Perhaps the driver was drunk; perhaps the driver was distracted; perhaps the bicyclist was not cycling in the bike lane; etc. What we know, though, is that the bicyclist was not nearly as protected from the harmful effects of a crash as he or she would have been had he or she been in a car when the crash took place. This, of course, is not to say that people should not ride bikes, only that they need to be particularly cautious when doing so given the lack of metal shielding that is typically present in cars.
The problem of bicycle safety is a persistent one, both throughout the country as a whole and throughout the State of Florida in particular, which remains the deadliest state for bicycle accidents. Despite programs designed to educate the public about bicycle safety, fatalities from bicycle crashes are up in the State of Florida—and around the country. In 2015 (the last year for which data was available), 818 bicyclists died; as our bicycle accident injury lawyers know, this reflects a more than 12% jump over the previous year’s number. (Note that the Centers for Disease Control [CDC] has reported that over 1,000 bicyclists died in 2015 in the U.S.)
Of the bicycle deaths in 2015, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 150 occurred in Florida, which had the most bicycle deaths of all states; California, a state with a population nearly double Florida’s, was noted as the second deadliest with 129. In addition to those who have been killed in bicycle accidents in the U.S., in 2015, there were almost 467,000 bicycle-related injuries. So while roughly 1,000 bicycle accident-related deaths is a stunning number, you have to multiply that number by about 467 just to get to the number of injuries from those accidents!
According to the CDC, as our accident injury team knows, a number of risk factors could identify those who are more likely to be killed in bicycle accidents. First, those aged 50-59 years have the highest bicycle death rates. Second, in terms of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries, children and adolescents (aged 5-19) have the highest rates of such accidents. Third, males are six times as likely to die, and four times as likely to be injured, in bicycle accidents than females. Fourth, most bicycle-related deaths take place in urban areas and, interestingly, at non-intersection locations. Finally, among accidents involving bicyclist death(s), almost 40% had alcohol involvement either for the motor vehicle driver or for the bicycle rider.
So, what are some tips to keep in mind in order to make sure that you stay safe? First, always wear a helmet! These safety devices reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash. Second, remain visible! Wear fluorescent or retro-reflective clothing and equip your bicycle with reflective strips to make you, and your bicycle, more visible to drivers. This is particularly important in the early morning hours or after nightfall. The tips, of course, are not exhaustive; that said, they are important.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle-related accident, please contact our skilled accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green to schedule a free consultation. You may reach us by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. With offices in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Plantation, and Wellington, we are here to help.