July 7, 2016

Preventing a bicycle accident

Florida is known for its outdoor activities and great weather, one of the more popular of those activities being riding a bicycle. The bicycle industry has exploded in recent years, with estimated billions of dollars a year spent on new bicycles. This is a great way to spend time with our families and friends, and get some good exercise. However, the more bicycles there are on the road, the easier it is to be involved in a bicycle accident.

Road rules for bicyclists

According to Florida law, bicycles are considered vehicles, meaning bicycle riders are treated with the same legal eye as vehicle drivers. In other words, while bicyclists must obey the same rules as motor vehicles, they may also enjoy the same rights as vehicle drivers. One of the more important differences, of course, is that bicyclists have significantly less protection compared to drivers and passengers in vehicles.

The laws that govern regulations to prevent Florida bicycle accidents are found in Florida Statute 316.2065. Some of the important provisions in these laws include the required protective gear (including helmets) that the law sometimes requires, and the direction bicycles are required to travel with respect to the flow of traffic. All bicyclists are encouraged to read these laws.

The numbers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 743 people died in 2013 in cycling accidents, and another 48,000 suffered injuries.

The vast majority of these cycling accidents occurred in urban areas (68%) as opposed to rural areas (32%). Over half of these accidents happened between 3 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.

Most fatalities (87%) and injuries (83%) in cycling accidents involved males.

Almost one-fourth (24%) of these cyclists that were killed had alcohol in their systems.

Florida bicycle accidents cause the second most cycling fatalities in the nation, with 133 (California had the most with 141). The state with the third-most fatalities, Texas, had 48 fatalities.

In terms of proportion of cycling fatalities to the total fatalities, Florida sadly leads the nation with 5.5%.

A February 2013 report by for the Florida Department of Transportation reported that between 2007 and 2011, Florida bicycle accidents caused 532 deaths to bicyclists, and another 22,000 caused serious injuries.

Among the counties with the most bicycle fatalities, Pinellas ranked third in Florida, and Hillsborough ranked fourth. So, despite the numerous campaigns to make the roads safer for bicyclists such as “share the road” and others, Florida and specifically the Tampa Bay Area continues to be one of the most dangerous areas for bicyclists in the country.

How to protect yourself

The NHTSA advises that all bicyclists should wear a helmet every time they ride, that all bicyclists are required to obey the same rules of the road as are required of vehicle drivers, and that bicyclists should take measures to increase their visibility to drivers by wearing bright and reflective clothing during the day, and additionally have front and rear lights for nighttime riding.

As bicycles are considered vehicles in the state of Florida, it is imperative that bicyclists take just as much precaution as cars, if not more to account for the security that bicycles do not provide. Most of these accidents occur from a driver not paying attention, whether it be the bicyclist or the driver behind the wheel of the car. Use common sense when operating a bicycle in the same lane as automobiles, and be aware that cars are not looking for you – you must look for yourself to prevent a bicycle accident.

At Corless Barfield Trial Group, we handle many bicycle accident injury and death cases. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a negligent driver in a bicycle accident, do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation about your rights.

You may also be interested in:

Florida Bicycle Laws: Staying Safe on the Road
How to Avoid Bicycle Injury Claims