CDC Reports That 467,000 Cyclists Are Injured in Bike-Automobile Collisions Each Year
Biking constitutes a popular option for recreation, exercise, and commuting to school or work. Despite a surge in the number of cyclists in recent years, they continue to face a serious risk of injury from motorists. Although bike riders have the right to share the road with cars, many inconsiderate drivers act hostile toward cyclists despite their vulnerability to injury. Cyclists have not enjoyed the benefits of declining auto accident fatalities and improved vehicle safety. According to a recent study, the number of emergency room visits by bicycle riders has increased by 120 percent since the 1990s.
While riding a bicycle provides fitness and environmental benefits, the safety limitations of bikes constitute a difficult tradeoff. These limits include no structural protection, a lack of seat belts and airbags, and relatively small size, making bikes less visible to motorists. The combination of these factors means that bike-automobile collisions tend to result in severe injury to the bicyclist. The severity of injury experienced by riders often entails significant expenses that include emergency room visits, hospitalization, a prolonged course of medical treatment and physical rehabilitation, significant time off work, and potentially permanent disability. While estimates placed the cost of non-fatal bicycle accidents at $52,495 in 1997, this amount had spiraled to over $77,000 four years ago, according to a paper published in the Journal of Injury Prevention.
Common Factors Causing Bike Accidents
Because an increasing number of cyclists share the roadways with motor vehicles, the number of riders injured in crashes continues to rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 467,000 people were injured in bicycle accidents during the most recent year, for which data is available. National estimates place the financial cost of productivity losses, and medical costs in both fatal and non-fatal cycling crash at $10 billion per year.
Although many forms of conduct might contribute to a bike collision, some common factors include:
- Distracted drivers
- Motorists executing unsafe turns
- Drivers failing to notice the presence of a rider
- Disregarding roadway rules and regulations
- Alcohol or drug intoxication
- Failure to yield right of way
- Opening car doors without looking for cyclists
- Unleashed dogs that chase riders
- Driving too close to the edge of the roadway and crowding riders
- Roadway defects (e.g. potholes, uncovered drains, obstructed street signs, malfunctioning street signs)
- Defective bikes or passenger vehicles
If a motorist slams into you while you are riding a bike, you should take several steps to preserve your legal rights. Always call the police to the scene of the accident so that an accident report can be prepared. If your cell phone remains functional, you should take photos of your injuries, damage to your bike and the car, the position of the vehicles, the surrounding environment, and anything else that might be relevant to the crash. The names and contact information of witnesses also must be obtained. You should also obtain medical care to ascertain the severity of your injuries.
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