|By: Peter Kent|
It has been reported that on average, a bicyclist is killed once every six hours and throughout a year, almost 500,000 bicycle-related injuries occur. With more individuals doing their part to protect the environment by riding bicycles, it becomes increasingly important to use common sense to share the road.
Types of Bicycle Crashes
Falls and Collisions
Over 50 percent of bike crashes are the result of falls. Often, if a rear wheel slides out from underneath a rider or the front wheel suddenly stops moving, a fall can occur. The front wheel can stop if it falls into a road defect, such as a crack or drain grate, or if the front brakes are applied very hard. Rear wheels can skid out when turning on gravel, sand, ice, metal surfaces, or any slippery surface.
Following falls, are collisions - the most prevalent type of bicycle accident, and collisions often occur with a stationary object such as a tree. Seventy five to 80 percent of bicycle accidents occur because of a fall or collision with a fixed object.
Car-bike crashes account for between about ten to 15 percent of bicycle accidents but result in the largest number of fatalities. Often when a bicyclist crosses at an intersection where a motorist is turning is the site of most bike-vehicle accidents. Other car-bike crashes occur when the bicyclist is not obeying traffic laws and is cycling on the wrong side of the road or running red lights.
Bicycle Crash Injuries
Injuries from bicycle crashes are most often to the limbs, and include fractures, abrasions, and lacerations. Facial injuries among bicyclists account for nearly one third of injuries while 25 percent of bike accident injures usually are responsible for fractures. The most severe and disabling injuries are brain injuries, which can result in a permanent disability. Head injuries are also more likely to be fatal.
What To Do When In a Bike-Car Crash
To the extent possible and practical to avoid further accidents or injuries after a bicycle crash, do the following:
* Do not move if you are seriously injured. Wait for medical help.
* Accept medical help, even if you do not feel severely injured.
* Wait for the police so an accident report can be filed with statements from witnesses, and the at-fault driver, and the crash scene investigated.
* Leave damaged property and equipment as it was until police arrive.
* Contact a personal injury lawyer who understands bicycling.
Bicycle Safety and Crash Prevention
Not surprisingly, helmets can protect again head injuries – both brain injuries and upper facial injuries. Seventy five percent of all bicyclists who suffered severe brain injuries in an accident are not wearing a helmet. To provide proper protection, helmets must be fitted correctly.
Although helmets can protect against head injury, they do not protect from getting hit by cars. To help prevent personal injury, bicyclists must use common sense and remain alert when cycling on roads to avoid crashes with cars. Although drivers should be more attentive to the presence of bicyclists, the odds of injury favor the bicyclist. This is why it is so important to follow some basic common sense prevention guidelines which include:
* Bicyclists should always ride on the right side of the road; it's the law; stop at stop signs and red lights; use a headlight at night (also beneficial in the day).
* Avoid stopping in the blind spot of a car at a red light. You can be hit if it turns right and you go straight.
* Use a bell or horn to signal or alert drivers of your presence.
* Use a headlight and a rear light, especially at night.
* Use a mirror to glance at traffic behind, especially when approaching intersections.
* Be attentive and alert to the cars. Watch for left turning cars crossing in front that may not see you, and pay attention to parked cars for which a door may open.
* Slow down so you can stop quickly if necessary.
* Avoid riding on sidewalks.
* Avoid busy streets, especially as a novice rider.
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