In a gorgeous state like Florida, healthier options for transportation are an everyday sight. Plenty of people enjoy biking to work and for leisure. But, what happens when something as innocent as biking turns into something deadly? Florida news has seen a wave of bicycling deaths recently and, according to AAA, Florida “leads the nation in bicycle fatalities.” The most recent studies show that Florida is responsible for roughly 16% of the nation's deaths caused by bicycle accidents.
In February 2020 alone, we have already seen two major deaths of bicycle accident victims in Florida. A young woman was killed earlier this month while trying to cross U.S. Highway 441 at night, and a man was killed a few days later riding his bicycle at night. As the numbers of bicycle fatalities rack up, we have to ask ourselves, “What more can be done to better protect all those on the road?” If you ride a bicycle regularly in Florida, you should be aware of the the rights you have on the road in case you ever find yourself in the event of an accident.
What are the Main Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
- Failure to Follow Traffic Laws
- Bicyclists should ride on the road as if they were driving a car. This means bicyclists should come to complete stops, respect the right-of-way, and avoid impatient maneuvers like riding between two lanes.
- Both bicyclists and car drivers should keep at least 3 feet of distance between each other at all times.
- Poor Visibility
- Bicyclists should wear reflective gear and have reflective gear on their bicycles.
- If possible, avoid riding your bike at night and/or in poor weather.
Are Helmets Really Necessary?
Yes, studies show helmets decrease the risk of major head trauma or brain injury in a bicycle accident by almost 50%. There are plenty of reasons to wear a helmet, like:
- They provide protection to your face
- Every year, about 26,000 people experience brain injuries from bike accidents
- Bicycle injuries double the amount of football head injuries every year
- Your chances of being compensated for your injuries will be greater
At this point, wearing a helmet needs to become a natural habit. Pediatrician Dr. Jerri Rose explains, “It's similar to wearing a seat belt. Wearing one doesn't ensure that you're not going to get in a car accident, but it lowers the risk of injury and of dying in a car accident.” Unfortunately, people choose not to wear them because they don't like the way they look or feel. However, your health should always take the lead over your personal preferences. With such an alarming amount of people seeking medical assistance for bicycle accidents, it is scary that on average only a fourth of those victims had helmets on. The practice of riding a bicycle seems so innocent, but the statistics of accidents and trauma are not.
What are Florida's Laws Concerning Bicyclists?
- Bicyclists should be on the right side of the road at all times
- Guard your bike with reflective lights
- When available, use the bike lane
- Anyone 16 or under must wear a helmet
- Keep 3 feet of space between every person on the road
- Bicyclists may ride on empty sidewalks, but must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians
What are Some Helpful Tips for Sharing the Road?
- Follow all the same traffic rules as if you were driving a car. It is dangerous to navigate your bike in an unpredictable way because others will not be able to guess your next move.
- Signal every turn. Make sure your gestures are clear and noticeable.
- Do not go in between the middle of lanes. This increases the danger for everyone on the road.
- Stay alert and avoid distractions like cell phones and music. Loud headphones can keep you from hearing important noises around you.
- Expect the unexpected and never assume you are seen. Wear reflective gear, put reflective gear on your bike, and practice extreme caution at night and especially with rain.
What Should I Do if I'm the Victim of Bicycle Accident?
If you are a victim of a bicycle accident, you should contact a trusted lawyer today to start filing the claim you need. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be eligible for compensation for your time and pain. Everything costs money: medical bills, appointments, time-off work, and damage repairs for your bike. If you were hit by someone else, it is important that you contact a lawyer immediately so that a trained professional can help you document evidence and details while they are still fresh on your mind. Your job, at this point, is to simply recover as quickly as possible. Contact us at Keller, Melchiorre, and Walsh so that we can start the process to your legal recovery today.