Bicyclists and motorists should be able to share the road safely, yet a number of factors can lead to terrible accidents that injure or claim the lives of bicyclists. According to Safe Home Alabama, 818 bicyclists were killed in accidents in 2015. This represents the largest increase in bicyclist fatalities in the state in nearly 20 years.
Unfortunately, cyclist fatalities are still a state-wide issue. Recently, a local nineteen-year-old bicyclist lost his life when he was hit by a car on U.S. 31 near Prattville. Sadly, the bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
The time of the accident, 7:20 PM, is one of the most dangerous time periods to ride a bike. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle fatalities are the most common from 6-9 PM. This is because as the sun goes down, it is more difficult for motorists to see bike riders on the road, increasing the likelihood of an accident happening.
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To better protect yourself, bicyclists can take many precautions, including:
- Wear a helmet – Always wear a helmet when riding, no matter what
- Wear fluorescent/bright clothing -So that you don’t blend in with your surroundings
- Add reflectors to your bike – This will make it easier for motorists to see you
- Tie your shoelaces – You don’t want them to get stuck in your bike chain
- Drive defensively – Always assume the driver doesn’t see you coming
- Avoid driving at night– 20% of fatalities occur at night
Following these biking safety tips can help save your life. According to Reuters, bicyclists that wear helmets lower their risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury by 52% and lower their risk of death by 44%.
With that statistic in mind, let’s take a look at five of the most common causes of bike accidents and how motorists can avoid them:
- Cause #1 Motorist does not give bicyclist right of way at intersection
- How to Avoid: Stop at intersections, look for cyclists, follow yield signs and traffic lights
- Cause #2 Motorist drives too close to bicyclist
- How to Avoid: Give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space on the road
- Cause #3 Motorist opens the door
- How to Avoid: If you need to open your door, don’t open it wide and close it as quickly as possible, and always look behind you before opening your car door
- Cause #4 Motorist makes left turn toward bicyclist or right turn on bike path
- How to Avoid: Check your blind spots for cyclists before turning, turn with caution
- Cause #5 Motorist makes a right turn on red
- How to Avoid: Look out for bicyclists before making the turn and drive the speed limit. Don’t speed.
By keeping these bicycle safety tip in mind, cyclists and motorists alike can help to avoid accidents and keep each other safe on the roads.
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