For the most part, Missouri has enjoyed an unseasonably warm winter this year, and as a result, many Missourians are taking advantage of the comfortable temperatures and participating in outdoor activities like bicycling. While drivers may not expect to see bicycles on the road at this time of year, the fact is that adults and children alike are still using their bicycles for recreation, exercise, and transportation to and from work or school. In this post, our Springfield car accident lawyers review some basic facts about bicycle accidents and provide a few important safety tips for everyone on the road.
Bicycle accident statistics:
• According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 618 pedalcyclists were killed and 52,000 more were injured in 2010 motor vehicle traffic crashes.
• Of bicyclists who were fatally injured in 2010, approximately 70% were not wearing a helmet.
• The estimated total cost of bicycle injuries and fatalities is more than $4 billion annually, reports the National Safety Council (NSC).
Safety tips for drivers:
• Be sure to allow at least three feet of passing space between the right side of your vehicle and the cyclist.
• Don't pass a bicyclist if you plan to turn right immediately after completing the pass, or if oncoming traffic is approaching. Treat the bicycle just like you would treat a slow-moving vehicle.
• Reduce your speed when passing a cyclist, particularly when the road is narrow, and avoid using your horn as you approach - doing so could startle the bicyclist and cause an accident.
Safety tips for bicyclists:
• Bicyclists are legally considered "vehicle operators," and are thus subject to the same traffic laws as other drivers. When bicycling, you must obey all traffic signs and signals - and if you're riding in the street, you must ride in the same direction traffic is moving.
• Since it's sometimes difficult for motorists to see bicycles, cyclists should take steps to make themselves visible. Wear brightly colored or fluorescent clothes, and if you ride at night, use front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light. You can also mark your equipment or clothing with reflective tape.
• Helmet use is the most effective way to prevent head injuries resulting from a bicycle accident. Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of serious head injury by an estimated 85%. Always wear a properly-fitting helmet when riding your bike.
As part of our firm's commitment to community service, we created a child safety helmet program designed to provide low-cost bicycle helmets to children throughout the state of Missouri. At our Springfield, Joplin, and Cape Girardeau offices, we sell helmets at below cost for only $5.00 a piece, and we also provide free customized fittings by appointment. For more information, click here.