Every motorist is expected to exercise safety while driving their vehicles. As any reasonable person should, not only must they look after themselves, but also look out for other road users so as to ensure that everyone averts certain road mishaps that may result in harm. Unfortunately, that is not always the case in California, a state known both for its high volume of traffic activity and high incidents of vehicle accidents, which result in fatalities and injuries.
Among road users, the bicyclists are one of the most vulnerable. They are considered part of California’s roads, which means that they ride their bikes alongside sedans, SUVs, and other passenger vehicles. Despite the fact that they have the right of way and are afforded numerous bikeways in major California cities, there are still motorists who disregard their presence. This is one of the reasons why bicycles colliding with cars are commonplace in the state.
Recent statistics just goes to show the real situation in California with regards to this unfortunately common occurrence on its roadways. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a report noting that over the period of 2010 to 2012, the number of bicyclist deaths in the United States rose to 16 percent. At least 621 fatalities were recorded in 2010; 680 in 2011 and 722 in 2012. Indeed, the increase was greater than other motor vehicle fatalities, which had an uptick of just 1 percent during the 3-year period.
According to the report, about half of the increase from 2010 to 2012 occurred in only six states; California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Texas. The top state with the most bicyclist deaths as a result of motor vehicle collisions was the State of California, with 338 cyclists, followed by the State of Florida with 329 deaths. California’s fatalities accounted for about 4 percent of the state’s total motor vehicle crash deaths. To put this in perspective, bicyclist deaths all over the United States account for only 2 percent.
Further analysis by the GHSA saw significant trends in the bicycle crash incidents. One of them is age: cyclists who are 20 years or older represent more than 80 percent of the bicycle deaths in 2012. In comparison, in 1975, only 20 percent of the bicycle deaths are of the same age range. In terms of gender, more than 70 percent of those who died in 2012 were male.
Factors for the increase in deaths can be attributed to the failure of bicyclists to wear their helmets, as well as alcohol impairment. But then, the risk of getting injured or killed while riding a bicycle increases when not all drivers are aware of the cyclists’ presence. Indeed, a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles comments that mitigating those risks can be realized if all motorists do their part in exercising safety. The city or state governments should also step up their efforts in ensuring that bicyclists in California are afforded facilities where they can freely operate their bicycles without the fear of getting involved in accidents.