According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, bicycle accident fatalities increased nationally by 12.2 percent in 2015 (the latest year for which complete data is available).
What’s more, fatality rates also rose dramatically between 1975 and 2015 for riders over 20-years-old (212 to 720). Interestingly, fatality rates fell dramatically during the same period for riders under 20 (786 to 91).
It remains to be seen if this is due to a shift in the age of the average bike rider, effective childhood bike safety programs, or other factors. What is known is that bicyclists face risks every time they hit the road – particularly in Florida.
The Sunshine State is arguably an incredibly dangerous place for cyclists, which is why Farrow & Pulice are dedicated to representing them in their injury cases. Bicyclists and pedestrians are merely an afterthought on the streets – if they are given a thought at all. That is starting to change with the implementation of more Complete Streets design efforts, but Florida – and South Florida in particular – remains one of the riskiest places for cyclists to travel in.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, while bicycle riding only accounts for about one percent of trips in the United States, bicyclists face a higher risk of injury or death than motor vehicle occupants. This is largely due to the added protection a vehicle affords to its occupants. When faced with the damage a bicycling accident brings, a personal injury attorney can help sort the complicated details and help victims get back on their feet.
Recovering Bicycle Accident Damages
Bicyclists who are injured in Sarasota crashes can seek compensation from:
- At-fault driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) insurer per S. 627.726;
- At-fault driver’s liability insurer;
- Uninsured/ Underinsured motorist coverage (if you have your own auto insurance coverage);
- Dram shop liability (if at-fault driver was drunk AND underage OR known by bar/establishment to be habitually addicted to alcohol).
Other recovery options may be available depending on the circumstances, which is why you should discuss your options with an attorney.
With the odds stacked against them, how can Florida riders stay safe on the road?
An Ounce of Prevention
- Both your bike and your safety equipment should be a good fit for you. Make sure that children have helmets which are properly fit to their head sizes.
- Model and teach safe riding habits to children at an early age. It is easier for children to learn safe habits from the start than to try to re-learn riding behaviors at an older age.
- Always wear a helmet. The United States Department of Transportation reports that helmet use reduces the chances of sustaining a head injury by fifty percent. It also reduces the chances of sustaining a head, neck or face injury by thirty-three percent.
- Make sure your bicycle and equipment are in good working condition before riding. Take special note of the brakes and chain. Tires should be fully inflated and free of debris.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Do not become so engrossed in a smartphone or navigation system that you fail to see and respond to hazards in the roadway. If you are listening to music, leave one earbud or headphone out so you can hear oncoming traffic.
- See and be seen! Drivers are not always expecting to see bicycles on the roadway. Wearing light-colored clothing or reflective devices (such as wristbands or safety vests) to help drivers see you. Be particularly cautious when riding at night.
- Bikers should also ride defensively: never assume that a car will yield the right of way to you (even when it is legally required to do so). Always be aware of your surroundings. You should also avoid unpredictable movements, as this makes it even more difficult for cars to avoid you. Signal your movements whenever possible.
- Be cautious in parking lots or when passing parked cars along the street. Doors can open unexpectedly, and drivers in parking lots have diverted their attention to the task of parking. Leave plenty of space between your bike and a parked vehicle. Use extra caution whenever a nearby vehicle is backing up.
Protect your legal rights after any bicycle accident by consulting with an experienced Sarasota personal injury attorney. Contact us today for a free consultation, and the first step towards recovery.