According to statistics, there has been an alarming increase in the number of South Florida bicycle accidents in recent years. For example, between the years of 2011 and 2014, there were 10,546 accidents involving a bicyclist across the state.
However, the specific numbers of bicycle related accidents that caused both injuries and fatalities for each year are as follows:
- 2011: 120 fatal accidents, 4,587 injuries for a total of 5,702
- 2012: 117 fatal accidents, 5,961 injuries for a total of 6,857
- 2013: 134 fatal accidents, 6,377 injuries for a total of 7,410
- 2014: 132 fatal accidents, 5,221 injuries for a total of 2,289
Common Locations for Bicycle Accidents
During the five year period between 2007 and 2011, there were over 20,000 bicycle accident injuries throughout the state. The top five counties that reported these fatalities and injuries include Orange, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Broward and Miami-Dade.
For individuals who survived bike accidents in this period, they were left with an array of injuries and long term affects. The most common was neck and back pain, which was experienced by 42.6 percent of accident victims, followed by internal organ damage experienced by 10.87 percent of victims and closed heat injuries experienced by 8.82 percent. Other notable injuries included fractured bones, dislocated bones and amputation.
According to these statistics, it was also shown that the majority of bicycle accidents took place on Saturday, more so than any other day of the week. It also looks as though it is more dangerous for Florida bicyclists to ride their bike during the night, than during the day.
What Causes Florida Bicycle Accidents and How Can They Be Prevented?
More than 50 percent of the bicycle accidents occurring in Florida are due to someone not yielding the right of way. As a result, many adult bike accidents take place because motorists don’t yield the right of way to the bike. As you would expect, a large number of all cyclists that are hit by cars (15 percent) are hit while they are using a crosswalk.
Adults aren’t the only victims in bicycle accidents. Children often ride bicycles as their main mode of transportation. Unfortunate, most children don’t have the same motor skills as adults, which means their potential to get hit is higher. In these types of accidents, the most common reason for a collision is the cyclist’s error. However, if you are going to allow your child to ride a bike on the road, around vehicles, it is imperative they understand the rules of the road and their responsibilities.
Laws to Help Prevent Bike Accidents
In the state of Florida, bicycles are considered vehicles. If you are riding a bicycle, you have the same right to use the road as anyone in a vehicle. This also means you are expected to obey all of the same traffic rules and regulations in place, which means stopping at red lights and stop signs, using lights at night, riding with the flow of traffic and yielding the right-of-way when entering a road.
A general overview of the rules and laws that apply to bicyclists on the roads include:
- Bicyclists have to obey all traffic signals and controls.
- A bicyclist has to use a regular, fixed seat while they are riding.
- The total number of riders and passengers on a bike is limited to the number the bike was designed for.
- The rider has to keep at least one hand on the handlebar while riding.
- Parents and guardians of children have the responsibility to make sure children know, understand and follow Florida bicycle laws.
- All bicycles have to have a brake that can stop the bike within a distance of 25 feet.
What is Causing the Surge in These Types of Accidents?
While there are several factors that are causing an increase in bicycle accidents across the state of Florida, there is one cause that stands out above the rest – distracted drivers. Not only are more and more drivers behind the wheel while on their phone and doing other things, many motorists don’t respect the cyclist’s space.
There are many cyclists who suffer an injury when the driver swings the car door open without stopping to see if there is a cyclist going by. The cyclist may then flip over the vehicle’s door or collide with it, resulting in a serious injury. In cases such as these, the driver of the vehicle will be negligent, just like they would if the bicyclist was hit at an intersection.
The accident may also be the result of a negligent driver, or poor road maintenance. However, any time another person is responsible, seeking legal assistance is a top priority. Even a low impact accident can result in serious issues. In fact, according to information from The Centers for Disease Control, it is estimated that bike injures cost over $4 million each year and with damage such as serious head injuries, several broken bones and spinal cord problems, the victim is facing real emotional, physical and financial consequences.
The Tourist Impact
Another theory related to the recent surge in bicycle accidents in the state is related to the high number of tourists in the area. Many tourists rent cars or bicycles and may not be aware or familiar with their surroundings. As a result, their level of distraction increases significantly. This can lead to more accidents involving tourists on bikes and in cars.
If you are injured in a bicycle accident and believe that it was due to the fault or negligence of someone else, you need to hire a Florida personal injury attorney right away. To learn more or have your questions answered, contact the attorneys at the Leifer Law Firm by calling 561-395-8055 today.