Hit-and-Run Claims the Life of Area Cyclist

One of the benefits of living in an area with such a lovely climate is that residents can use bicycles for transportation, health benefits, and recreation. Unfortunately, this also means that Panama City bicycle accidents are all too frequent. It is important that riders and drivers work together to limit the number of Panama City traffic accidents.

WJHG is reporting on one recent accident in our area that had a tragic outcome. 63-year-old Destin resident Harry Robert Crawford was riding his bicycle in the early morning hours on Sunday April 1st. He was riding westbound on Highway 98 at Gulf National Seashore Drive between Destin and Fort Walton Beach. At approximately 6 A.M., Crawford was hit from behind by an unknown vehicle that fled the scene of the accident.

Okaloosa County paramedics responded to a call and pronounced the cyclist dead at the scene. A witness reported seeing a green van stop in the vicinity of the accident. According to the witness, the driver got out to check the vehicle's bumper, and then returned to the van and took off at a high speed travelling westbound on Route 98. Investigators found Chrysler-made vehicle parts at the scene.

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, 630 riders died in bicycle accidents in 2009. Cyclists accounted for 2% of all victims in fatal motor vehicle crashes. An additional 51,000 bicycle riders suffered injury nationwide due to vehicle accidents in 2009, although unreported accidents may make the true numbers significantly higher. With 107 fatalities, Florida had more cyclist deaths than any other state. Nationwide, 70% of cyclist deaths in 2009 occurred in urban areas.

Road safety requires the active involvement of both cyclists and drivers. The most important step cyclists can take to prevent head injury is wearing a properly-fitted helmet. Cyclists should also wear brightly-colored clothing, especially when travelling between dusk and dawn. Bikes should be equipped with reflectors to increase visibility. In general, riders are responsible for following all the same traffic laws that apply to drivers. Cyclists should remain alert, a responsibility that includes limiting the use of personal music devices in order to ensure that the rider can hear traffic noises.

Drivers have the responsibility to share the road with bicycle riders. Motorized vehicle operators should leave at least 3 feet of clearance when passing a bicycle on the road. Cars should yield to cyclists in intersections. Drivers should be especially alert when making turns, checking for bicycle traffic in addition to other cars and pedestrians.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a cycling accident due to an inattentive driver, please contact our Panama City bicycle accident law firm. Our experienced Panama City injury lawyer can help you recover compensation for your injuries. A consultation with our firm is always free, and most cases are handled on a contingency basis, so there is no fee unless we help you recover money.

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