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Common Sense Can Prevent a Bicycle Crash

Dec 25, 2007
Annually, about half a million bicycle related injuries occur. In addition, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a bicyclist is killed approximately every six hours. However, most bicycle crashes are predictable and preventable by using proper precautions on the part of both the bicyclists and motorists.

Types of Bicycle Crashes

Falls and Collisions

Over 50 percent of bike crashes are the result of falls. Falls commonly occur either when the front wheel suddenly stops moving or when the rear wheel slides out. 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.

After falls, the most frequent type of bike accidents are collisions with a stationary object, such as trees. Falls and collisions with fixed objects account for about 75 to 80 percent of all bicycle crashes.

Car-Bicycle Crashes

Car-bike crashes account for between about ten to 15 percent of bicycle accidents but result in the largest number of fatalities. Most of these accidents occur when either the bicyclist or the motorist is turning or crossing at an intersection or driveway. 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. Fractures account for about 25 percent of bike crash injuries, and facial injuries account for about one third of injuries. 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 against head injuries such as brain injuries and upper facial injuries. Studies show that about 75 percent of bicyclists who were severely brain injured were not wearing helmets. 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:

* Follow the law and ride on the right side of road; 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.

If you have been injured in a bike crash, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact an experienced bike accident attorney for more information on a potential bike injury claim.
About the Author
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