Both drivers and bicyclists need to ensure they are making smart choices when they share the road. As the number of people commuting by bicycle has increased, many riders and drivers have been unable to adjust and follow the rules to avoid collisions. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the number of people dying in bicycle accidents.
A personal injury lawyer knows an effective infrastructure for bicyclists that includes plenty of bike lanes can help to reduce the number of deaths among riders. Ultimately, however, it is up to every motorist who is on the road to make sure they are not endangering bicycle riders.
Bike Riders at Risk in Urban Areas
From 2010 to 2012, there was a 1 percent increase in the total number of people killed in motor vehicle collisions. Meanwhile during this same time, there was a 16 percent rise in the number of bicyclists killed in crashes. According to the Governors' Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the number of bicycle rider fatalities has gone up in 22 states during this two-year period of time.
While bicycle rider fatalities rose nationwide, certain areas saw the biggest increases and certain demographic groups were the most at risk of accidents. For example:
- In 2012, a total of 84 percent of the people who were killed while riding a bicycle were 20-years-old or older. By comparison, in 1975, only 21 percent of the people killed in bike accidents were over the age of 20. The shift from children to adults as the leading demographic group at risk of a fatal bike crash has occurred at a time when there has been a dramatic increase in adults commuting by bike. Between 2000 and 2012, there was a 62 percent increase in the number of adults commuting on their bicycle.
- A total of 88 percent of the people killed in 2012 bike crashes were males. Of the men killed, 74 percent were adult men.
- In 2012, a full 69 percent of the fatal bicycle collisions happened in urban areas. By contrast, in 1975, only half of the bike accident deaths happened in urban locations. Urban centers have been the areas where there is the biggest increase in bicycle riders commuting.
- Just six states accounted for 54 percent of the fatal bike accidents in the United States. Texas was one of them, and the others included Florida, Michigan, California, and Illinois.
Bike riders are sometimes at least partially to blame for their own accidents. For example, a total of 28 percent of the bikers who were killed had a blood-alcohol concentration that was at the legal limit of .08 or higher. It's important to note, however, that this may not preclude a bicyclist and/or survivors from collecting damages. Texas adheres to the 51 percent bar of modified comparative fault. This means an injured person who is partially at-fault can collect damages, so long as a jury determines he or she is less than 51 percent at-fault. The amount of compensation received would be reduced by the degree of fault determined.
However, the reality is drivers and traffic engineers are largely to blame many collisions because they fail to do their part to make sure that the roads are safe for bicyclists. Drivers need to be more cautious in sharing the road. Additionally, those responsible for designing and maintaining roadways in Laredo need to ensure they take the unique needs of bicycle riders into account.
If you were injured or a loved one was injured or killed in an accident, contact us today. The Law Office of John R. Solis has experience protecting the rights of accident victims in Laredo and across Texas. Call 866-465-9093 for a free case consultation.