As smartphones have become more popular, the number of serious and fatal bicycle accidents has gone up
Bicycle deaths have increased by 12 percent in the most recent data available, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Additionally, bicycle accident victims are more likely to be adults rather than children — a change from past years. On average, bicycle accident fatalities involve males in their mid-40s, with over 85 percent of victims fitting this demographic.
Is Distracted Driving Causing More Bicycle Fatalities?
There are many causes of bicycle accidents, including distracted driving. As smartphones have become more popular, the number of serious and fatal bicycle accidents has gone up. Bicyclists are more difficult to see than other cars, and they are often found on the edges of roads, where motorists can easily overlook them.
The most common circumstances in a fatal bicycle accident include:
- Motorists overtaking a bicyclist in the same direction.
- A car turning right or left into the path of a cyclist going in the same or opposite direction.
- Bicyclists riding against traffic.
- Motorists striking bicyclists as they drive from an alley, side street, parking lot, or driveway.
- Low visibility due to darkness at night.
Researchers say that alcohol is also a leading factor in bicycle accidents. Studies show that alcohol is involved in 37 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes.
While distracted driving is a major factor in bicycle accidents, researchers also say that rising numbers of cyclists are also contributing to the increase in accidents. With more people choosing to bike rather than drive their commute or to run errands, the jump in accidents is something researchers expect to see. However, health experts say the benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks.
The High Cost of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents are increasing — and so are the medical and societal costs associated with them. According to a paper published in the journal, Injury Prevention, bicycle accidents now cost over $24 billion each year in the United States. This is a 140 percent increase from 1997. Today, the cost of bicycle accident injuries is near twice the cost of workplace injuries.
One of the reasons bicycle accidents are so costly is that the injuries they cause are often traumatic, long-term, and severe. The human body is no match for a 4,000-pound car, and a bicyclist is extremely vulnerable in even a low-speed crash. Furthermore, older bicyclists are now the largest age group among cyclists, and these riders are more likely to have underlying health conditions that can make an injury worse.
Experts also say that bicycle accident can be reduced by proper city planning, such as the addition of bike paths and bicycle lanes. Current estimates put the creation of a proposed bikeway network that would cover one-sixth of the country at a cost of $300 billion. Health experts say it’s also important to change the distracted driving culture in the U.S., and for motorists to be more aware of the need to share the road.
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Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.