Once a symbol of childhood freedom, often left behind once teens received their drivers' licenses, bicycles have been embraced by a wider sector of the population in recent years. There are many reasons for this change, including the cost associated with driving (ex. maintenance, fuel, parking, etc.), ever-increasing traffic, environmental concerns, and a growing appreciation for the ability to incorporate fitness into one's everyday routine.
Unfortunately, drivers do not always do their part to keep the roads safe for all travelers, including those on two wheels instead of four. Motorist-caused bicycle accidents are a very serious threat that can leave riders permanently, even fatally, injured, so the victims are entitled to monetary compensation from those at fault. At The Pittman Firm, our Northwest Florida bicycle accident lawyer advocates for riders of all ages who have been injured by careless drivers.
As reported by WJHG, the Florida Highway Patrol has released the name of a cyclist killed in a crash in the early hours of 2014. At 2:30 A.M. on New Year's Day, a red Dodge pick-up truck crashed into 60-year-old bicycle rider Michael J. Fowler of Pensacola. The incident occurred in Okaloosa County at the intersection of West Jackson Street and Wiggins Avenue. Troopers are searching for the driver who fled the scene after the collision. Police believe the vehicle incurred extensive front-end damage in the hit-and-run. Fowler was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Traffic Safety Facts Bicyclists and Other Cyclists Fact Sheet, 677 cyclists (this post will refer to bicyclists, although the numbers also include other non-motorized, pedal-powered vehicles) died in traffic accidents, a 9% increase over the 2010 figure of 623 fatalities. An additional 48,000 riders suffered injuries in traffic accidents that year. Bicyclist deaths occurred most often in urban areas (69%), non-intersections (59%) and during the 4 to 7:59 P.M. time frame (30%), numbers that seem in keeping with an increase in bicycle commuters.
Notably, there has been a steady rise in the average age of bicyclists involved in both fatal and injury crashes over the past 10 years. For 2011, the average age for bicyclists killed in traffic crashes was 43, and the average age for injured riders was 32. Looking at age sectors, the 45-54 year old segment had the highest rate of deaths based on overall population numbers with the highest injury rate by population occurring in the 16-20 year old group. Again, these numbers seem to fit with an increase in fatally injured commuter cyclists. Men were substantially more likely to be killed (85%) or injured (78%) than women riders.
Sadly, there is another category of riders that account for a disproportionate share of cyclist deaths: Floridians. In 2011, Florida reported 125 rider deaths, more than any other state. California came in second with 114 fatalities and New York ranked a distant third at 57 deaths (six states recorded no cyclist deaths). Florida remained the state with the most cyclist deaths when looked at as a rate per million residents and first in the percentage of all traffic fatalities that involved cyclists.
We urge both state and local officials to work to change this distinction. We also urge individual Floridians to make Florida safer for bicycle riders of all ages. We believe in prevention through education and other safety-related measures. We also believe in holding negligent drivers accountable by serving as legal representation for those hurt or killed in bicycle crashes in Panama City and throughout Northwest Florida. Call if we can help you get justice and monetary compensation.