Bicycle accidents happening more frequently

Bicycling can be a healthy and enjoyable activity. Sadly, a man was recently killed while riding his bicycle at night. According to the Herald Tribune, the 65-year-old man was accustomed to taking long rides as a part of his fitness program, often after dark. Though the bicyclist was wearing a helmet and had both front and rear lights, a vehicle struck him from behind.

Bicycle accidents by the numbers

The Herald Tribune reports that over 4,000 people are injured in bicycle accidents in Florida every year. According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 125 people died in bicycle accidents in Florida in 2011, more than in any other state. Only California came close to this number, with 114 fatalities. The next highest number of state fatalities was only half as much, 57 in New York.

In the NHTSA's analysis, Florida also stood out dramatically in first place in the percentage of fatalities that were bicyclists-5.2 percent. That means that bicyclists comprised more than one in 20 of the people who died in accidents on Florida roads in 2011.

Nationwide, late afternoon into early evening was the most deadly time of day for bicycle riders. Most of the fatal accidents occurred in cities rather than rural areas, and at non-intersections rather than at intersections.

Agewise, the most nonfatal injuries occurred among bicycle riders aged 16 to 20; and the most fatalities, in the 45- to 54-year-old age group. The accident statistics are encouraging for the youngest riders, showing striking improvement over time. In 2002, 23 percent of bicyclists who were killed were children aged 16 and under; in 2011, just 10 percent were. A decline in injuries was also observed. In 2002, 39 percent of injured bicyclists were under 16; in 2011, only 19 percent were.

Help for bicycle enthusiasts

The NHTSA provides safety advice for bicycle riders and for motorists who share the road with bicycles. Of course, helmets are essential when biking. Bicyclists should diligently observe the rules of the road and do what they can to be more visible, wearing bright clothing and using lights and reflectors. Drivers should be on the lookout for bicycles, give them lots of clearance when passing and yield to bicycles at intersections.

The bicyclist who was recently killed in Sarasota County was taking the recommended precautions, but unfortunately a motorist failed to see him on the road. If negligence is involved in a car-bicycle crash, or any accident on the roads, it may be possible to obtain compensation for the injuries the negligence caused. A personal injury attorney can file a claim to seek repayment for medical costs and lost wages; and if a loved one has died, the attorney can file a wrongful death claim.