Bicycles are a fun and efficient way to get from one place to another, but they can be dangerous when sharing the road with regular-sized motor vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicyclists are more likely to be injured in a bicycle accident than the occupants of a vehicle. Since bicycle accident injuries can be serious and lead to permanent disability or death, it’s important to look at ways to address and prevent those injuries.
Bicycle safety plays an integral role in helping reduce accidents on the road. Let’s take a look at countermeasures we can take to address bicyclist injuries and death:
Key Safety Issues for Cyclists
In 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) met to research and analyze bicycle safety and determine the key ways to address and reduce injuries and death from bicycle accidents. In this research report, the NTSB first highlighted the most pressing safety issues that they see for bicyclists. Those safety issues are:
- Roadway infrastructure for cyclists. Most bicycle accidents happen at intersections. Left and right turns can both prove to be very dangerous for bicyclists, especially when drivers aren’t paying attention and blow through a red light. Other than intersections, bicycle crashes in the midway of roads can be more severe because cars are typically traveling faster than they are at intersections.
- Low visibility. Drivers of motor vehicles aren’t always looking out for bicyclists because they expect other regular-sized motor vehicles, not smaller, harder to spot bicyclists. Both drivers and bicyclists might not spot each other until it’s too late, which can cause serious crashes.
- Susceptibility to head injury. Even though bicyclists wear helmets, bicyclists are more susceptible to head injury — the leading cause of death for bicyclists. Depending on where they are hit, a bicyclists’ head could hit the hood or windshield of a car. In the event of a dooring (an incident where a driver opens a door as a cyclist is approaching), the cyclist could run head-first into the car door.
Countermeasures to Address Safety Issues
By identifying these most prominent safety issues for bicyclists, the board was able to make recommendations for how to fix these problems. By addressing these issues, cyclists and drivers alike could work toward reducing injuries and death from bicycle accidents. Here are the recommendations that the board made:
- Increase research into how vehicles and pedestrians interact and coexist so that intelligent technology can better integrate safety features for pedestrians.
- Test a vehicle’s ability to avoid accidents with bicycles in the New Car Assessment Program.
- Increase helmet use by implementing an all-ages bicycle helmet law.
- Ensure helmets are age-appropriate and fit correctly.
- Track bicycle usage to retrieve more data.
- Build more separated bike lanes.
- Implement intersection safety treatments.
- Consider adding more bicycle modification requirements to increase bicycle visibility.
- Clearly outline bike lanes and include geometric shapes inside the lane for more clarity.
As written in the report, these countermeasures are intended for the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Even though these officials are integral in implementing these countermeasures, bicyclists can begin working on some of these now. To increase safety, bicyclists should always wear a helmet, wear bright clothing, have lights and reflectors on their bikes, and always pay attention to their surroundings. Bicycle accidents can’t always be avoided, but we can all do our best to be as safe as possible.
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident in Illinois and are wondering what legal options you have, Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP may be able to help. Our experienced attorneys understand Illinois bike laws and how they can impact a legal claim. Reach out today for a free, no obligation consultation to find out if our services are right for you.