According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bicycle travel represents only one percent of all trips in the United States, yet bicyclists face a higher risk for injury or death than any other kind of motorist. When it comes to comparing biking with other modes of travel, the statistics surrounding bike accidents seem to make sense. After all, bike riders are exposed to the elements in a way that makes them distinctly vulnerable, as they operate under conditions that naturally place them at greater risk. For example, when compared to operating a car or even a motorcycle, biking restricts riders to lower speeds and the use of more fragile, less sturdy vehicle construction. These disadvantages account for nearly 467,000 bicycle-related injuries and 1,000 bicycle accident deaths in the United States alone, but studies show there are other factors that contribute to these statistics, making some bicyclists greater targets for injury than others.
Know the Potential Dangers
Going for a bike ride is a leisure activity and it is also a good form of exercise. However, bicyclists should be aware of the potential dangers before they get on a bike. Here are some of the biggest contributing factors to higher levels of risk for bike riders:
- Evening urban travel – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that most bike accidents happen in the early evening hours, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., regardless of the time of year. Additionally, a majority of these incidents take place in urban areas. According to the NHTSA, 75 percent of fatal bike accidents happen in urban areas, while only 25 percent happen in rural areas.
- Intoxication – Traveling while impaired is dangerous and potentially deadly, regardless of the mode of transportation. It is no less lethal for bike riders, and more often than not, it is an intoxicated motor vehicle driver who strikes the bicyclist. However, alcohol involvement on the part of either party increases the chances of bike accident injury or fatality. The NHTSA found that more than 35 percent of all bike crashes are due to alcohol intoxication.
- Youth and middle age – Studies show that a bicyclist’s age is a significant factor when it comes to the chances of accident injury or death. The CDC has found that middle-aged adults and children are particularly at risk. Adults between the ages of 50 and 59 maintain the highest rate of bicyclist deaths in the United States, and children between the ages of 5 and 14, as well as adolescents between the ages 15 and 19, have the highest rates of non-fatal injuries. In fact, adolescents account for more than one-third of all bike-related injuries seen in American emergency rooms.
Regardless of how far or how often you travel by bike, experts recommend planning your route before you head out, and that you ride a bike that is well maintained and in good working condition. Other recommended safety precautions include wearing a helmet, tying and tucking in your shoelaces before you ride so they do not get caught in the bike chain, and making yourself as visible as possible to others by wearing bright and reflective clothing during the day and at night.
Contact Our Firm for Legal Assistance
If you were injured in a bicycle accident, it is critical not to delay contacting a Virginia bicycle accident attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp right away, especially because important evidence at the scene of the incident needs to be analyzed, or we may need to put out letters demanding preservation of evidence to other parties. Virginia injury laws have strict rules regarding how long you have to file your personal injury claim. If the statute of limitations expires without the suit having been filed, you will be unable to collect financial damages for any medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, or any other losses you may be entitled to. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.