Primer--How To Avoid Bicycle Accident Injuries

September 8, 2011 by Mark Siesel

Bicycle riding is more popular than ever in the United States, and according to studies, is exceeded only by walking for exercise and swimming in popularity. Unfortunately, bicycling can be a very dangerous activity if common sense measures are not followed, for several reasons, but most significantly, due to many bicyclists sharing the roadways with motor vehicles. This fact is shown by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies, which indicate that there were 718 bicyclists killed in fatal accidents in 2008, and 630 in 2009.

The most dangerous time to ride a bicycle is between the hours of 4:00 PM and 7:59 PM. 70% of fatal bicycle accidents occur in urban areas, and a majority of accidents happen in non-intersections. Males are much more likely to be involved in fatal accidents as well as suffer serious injuries in bicycle crashes, with 82% of the total fatalities and 80% of injuries, according to NHTSA.

The following are the most important safety measures which bicyclists should follow to avoid serious injuries and death:

A. Wear a bicycle helmet. NHTSA reports that bicycle helmets are 85-88% effective in preventing fatal injuries and non-life threatening injuries;

B. Obey all traffic controls such as stop signs, traffic lights, and yield signs;

C. Bicyclists must comply with all rules of the road, including Section 1231 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, which states in relevant part: "Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles...Every person riding a bicycle ...upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle by this title."

D. Bicyclists should wear reflective and bright clothing at nights and use reflective devices on their bicycles to ensure that drivers see them;

E. Comply with Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 1236 (a) and (e) by equipping their bicycles with a front white light that emits light 500 feet forward and a rear red or amber light which emits light 300 feet to the rear between the hours of 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise;

F. Bicyclists should never travel in the opposite direction of traffic on the roadway;

G. Bicyclists must always be aware of debris in the roadway, pedestrians, animals and weather conditions.

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