In recent years, the number of traffic accident deaths has been on an overall downward trajectory. Unfortunately, there is one group of people for whom the opposite is true, and the death risk is going up: Bicyclists.
A personal injury lawyer knows bicycle riding has become increasingly popular, as people choose to commute to work or ride a bike for recreation in order to get exercise, save on transportation costs or do their part to help the environment. Unfortunately, as the number of bicycle riders on the roads has increased, the risk of bicycle collisions and fatalities is also rising - especially here in Florida.
A Close Look at Bicycle Fatalities
Recently, the Governors' Highway Safety Association (GHSA) published a comprehensive report on the bicyclists who are at the greatest risk of suffering injury or death in a collision. As the GHSA report indicated: "The number of bicyclists killed on U.S. roadways is trending upward, particularly for certain subsets of the population."
The increase is significant. From 2010 to 2012, there was a 16 percent rise in the number of bicycle riders who were killed in collisions. During this same period, there was only an overall increase of one percent in all motor vehicle fatalities.
The top three states for cyclist fatalities, according to the statistics, were: California (388 cyclists), followed by Florida (329 cyclists) and Texas (143 cyclists). It's worth noting Florida has a population that is roughly half that of California, so the rate of bicyclist deaths in Florida is actually higher than any other state, even if the actual number of fatalities is slightly lower.
The rise in bike-related deaths has occurred among specific demographic groups much more so than others. For example:
- In 2012, adults aged 20 or over represented 84 percent of victims killed in bicycle collisions. In 1975, by contrast, only 21 percent of victims were aged 20 or older. This reflects the shift from bicycle riding being a child's activity to being a major method of transportation for adults.
- A total of 74 percent of the victims killed while riding a bicycle in 2012 were adult males.
- Around 69 percent of bicycle fatalities in 2012 occurred in urban areas, compared with just 50 percent of fatalities in urban areas in 1975. This change reflects a dramatic shift in bicycle use in urban areas. Between 2000 and 2012, there has been a 62 percent increase in the number of people who commute via bicycle.
- A total of 54 percent of bicycle fatalities occurred in just six states: Florida was one of the six, along with California, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas. However, the number of bicyclists killed in crashes has increased in 22 states between 2010 and 2012.
While there have been big shifts in the groups affected by bicycle accident fatalities, some things have not changed. For example, men are still the primary victims of bicycle accident fatalities.
In 2012, men accounted for 88 percent of those killed in bike collisions. The number of bicyclists over 16 with alcohol in their system at the time of a fatal collision has also remained largely consistent even as a sharp drop in alcohol-impaired driving occurred among drivers of passenger vehicles.
In 2012, 28 percent of bicycle riders had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, compared with 33 percent of fatally injured drivers of passenger cars.
Bicycle riders need to stay sober and do their part to stay safe, while West Palm Beach community leaders need to build upon efforts to develop bicycle lanes and improve conditions for bike riders.
If you or a loved one is injured in a traffic accident in West Palm Beach, visit http://www.davidglatthornlaw.com or contact David J. Glatthorn at 800-990-9394 to discuss your rights. Serving Palm Beach County and all of South Florida.