Student-Created Technology May Help Prevent Bicycle Accidents

It seems like bicycle accidents are becoming nearly as common as car accidents in our region. We've noted before that Florida holds the unfortunate distinction of having had more bicyclist fatalities in 2011 and, given recent headlines, it doesn't seem like 2013 has been an improvement. Our firm is proud to serve as a law firm for Panama City bicycle accidents. We are also proud to advocate for accident prevention, and we are intrigued by a recent effort to use technology to help keep cyclists safe.

Another Life Lost in a Florida Bicycle Collision

A recent tragedy, reported on by Northwest Florida Daily News, highlights the need for safety initiatives aimed at preventing bicycle accidents. On Tuesday morning, a collision involving a pickup truck and a bicycle claimed the life of a Walton County cyclist. The crash occurred when Michael Shinsky, age 60, was making a right turn from Geronimo Street onto westbound U.S. 98 in Miramar Beach. According to the Florida Highway Patrol ("FHP"), Shinsky failed to see a bicycle rider who was riding east in the westbound bicycle lane and he hit the rider. Shinsky, who was driving a 2009 Ford pickup truck, was uninjured. The cyclist, an unidentified 23-year-old, died at the scene. FHP officials are investigating the crash.

Device Increases Visibility of Bikes to Prevent Turning Vehicles from Colliding With Riders

A design student in the UK has created a device that may help prevent the type of accident that claimed a local cyclist earlier this week. CNN reports that Emily Brooke had a very clear sense that she wanted to tackle the problem of accidents caused when a vehicle turns across the path of a bicycle rider as part of her studies at Brighton University. Cycling is on the rise in the U.S. and Europe, with an increasing number of people opting to commute by bicycle. Brooke notes that more than 3,000 riders were killed or seriously injured in Britain last year, including more than 100 fatalities in London alone. She learned that 79% of cyclists who were hit by a vehicle had been riding on a straight path when a vehicle turned into the rider, so she decided to focus her efforts on a solution to that type of accident.

Blaze is the result of Brooke's sharp focus. It is a detachable, front-mounted light that uses bright LEDs to project the image of a green bicycle onto the road. The image appears five meters in front of the bike, alerting drivers and others that the rider is approaching. By increasing the cyclist's "footprint" on the road, Blaze aims to prevent motor vehicles from turning into the rider's path. Others have praised Brooke's invention, noting it provides drivers with an additional warning that a cyclist is approaching and suggesting it has the potential to make a significant difference in bicycle safety.

Safety, Technology, & Responsibility

Blaze is just one of the new technology products focused on bicycle safety. Other upcoming products include an audio device that can keep dogs at bay, "smart handle bars" that can adjust to the rider's speed and surroundings, and bikes with glow-in-the-dark frames to light up the bike at night. We are hopeful that these products will help keep cyclists safe and reverse the trend of rising accident rates. Of course, the safety of bicycle riders also depends on both cyclists and motorists using good judgment, following the law, and being attentive. If you were injured while riding a bicycle because a driver acted negligently, call and make an appointment for a free consultation with our Northwest Florida injury lawyer. Attorney Pittman's experience and knowledge can help you recover compensation for your injuries while reminding the person responsible that safety is everyone's responsibility.

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