While reading the cover of the Arizona Republic this morning, which states, “State’s 1st bike-safety plan aimed at cutting fatalities” one can’t help but wonder about cycling accidents in our state. You have to ask yourself ‘how bad can it be, really?’ The answer: very bad.
Arizona is one of the deadliest places to ride your bike. In fact, 19 people died in 2010 and 1,500 cyclists were badly injured. That is a startling statistic for a person who has avid cyclists in the family and/or bicycling age children. Most of the time a parent worries about cuts or bruises, maybe the occasional sprained wrist when they take off those training wheels. But for those children who are old enough to be riding without an adult present, those who are on the bicycling buddy system, and for a spouse, who may cycle as a hobby, one can’t help but worry that each time your loved one puts on that helmet that they might get seriously hurt or worse…that they might not return. This new plan is a hopeful attempt to quell those fears.
In addition to the new safety plan, there is some other somewhat encouraging news. The 25 bicycling related deaths in 2009 dropped significantly to 19 in 2010. That is a trend we would like to keep for 2011 and this plan may help but the surest way to stop cycling injuries and wrongful deaths is to educate and act.
When you understand what the typical causes of these accidents are you can work to make a change. ADOT reports that over a 5-year period the leading factors in crashes involved or occurred during the following…
- Half of the accidents involved a bike or a motorist failed to yield. Cars are twice as often to fail to yield to a bicycle.
- Half occurred while an automobile was turning right.
- Half of the injuries or deaths involved a cyclist who was driving against the flow of traffic.
- One-third occurred when a bike was being ridden on the sidewalk instead of a bike lane or on the shoulder of the road.
- Surprisingly only less that 25% occurred in the evening or dusk.
- One in eight bike injuries occurred on or around state highways.
With this in mind ADOT’s comprehensive approach to the bike-safety plan includes the following…
- Laws requiring cyclists to have taillights on their bikes.
- Provide more clarity on rules for bikes on sidewalk.
- Larger 4-foot wide shoulder for ALL highway projects as well as new “wrong way” signs for all bike lanes.
- New drivers will be reading much more information of bike safety in the drivers’ manual and will be faced with more questions on the topic for the written test, as well.
- Police and highway-patrol officers are urged to more strenuously enforce existing laws such as the “3-foot rule”, etc.
For more information on the new bike-safety plan or to talk to our attorneys about your own cycling injury or the death of a loved one in a bike accident please contact us today. We wish you a safe & fun weekend and remember, if you are riding this weekend to put on your helmet.